Interview with Director Noah Baumbach about “Frances Ha”

in the Washington City Paper: WCP: Along with location, the film’s pop-heavy, throwback soundtrack is also one of the most striking elements. Can you talk about the motivation behind the music? NB: I wanted the music to be big and romantic and celebratory and hopeful. I wanted it to feel good. That was the case [Read More...]

“The Sheep from the Goats”: I review “What Maisie Knew”

at AmCon. Spoilers. There may not be many movies with happy endings more heartless than the one in What Maisie Knew. The new adaptation of Henry James’s novel about divorce as seen through the eyes of a small child does some things really well. All of the acting is great, especially Onata Aprile as six-year-old [Read More...]

Hope Stumbles Eternal: “Frances Ha”

The director of The Squid and the Whale made a movie with the star of Damsels in Distress, and it’s about friendship between women, forgiveness, and coming to terms with your life. Ordinarily this is the kind of sentence I end with, “…and then I woke up.” But no! Frances Ha is real, it’s in [Read More...]

From George Eliot, “Middlemarch”

This was not the first time that Mr. Bulstrode had begun by admonishing Mr. Vincy, and had ended by seeing a very unsatisfactory reflection of himself in the coarse unflattering mirror which that manufacturer’s mind presented to the subtler lights and shadows of his fellow-men; and perhaps his experience ought to have warned him how [Read More...]

“All-Weather Friends”: me on Wallace Stegner

at Acculturated: All three novels of marriage I’ve looked at so far have a certain sense of the privacy of marriage, which can become isolation. In fact, the focus has narrowed with each novel: Extended family and community are essential parts of Kristin Lavransdatter, but its heart remains with Kristin’s marriage and home; the isolation [Read More...]

So Many Steps to Death: Revisiting “Brideshead Revisited”

Hey, so I read Brideshead Revisited again. I was in college the first time. Probably read the entire book drunk. Can’t think of a better introduction to it! Anyway, here are some scattered thoughts on re-reading it, all of which are ridiculously spoilerous. Seriously, if you haven’t read it, SKIP THIS POST and just go [Read More...]

Nun Is the Loneliest Number: “Black Narcissus”

Last week I saw 1947′s Powell & Pressburger convent fever dream Black Narcissus. It’s set in the high, windswept mountain peaks of India (with requisite “half devil and half child” native caricatures, so just know that going in–I really liked the blunt old lady though), where an iron-spined young Anglican nun played by Deborah Kerr [Read More...]

“No Place to Stand”: I review “The Reluctant Fundamentalist”

at AmCon: Both the title and the trailer of Mira Nair’s “The Reluctant Fundamentalist” (now playing in DC at the E Street Cinema and Bethesda Row Cinema) suggest that this will be the story of how a man becomes a fundamentalist: how a young-gun New York financier, humiliated and mistreated after 9/11, turns his back [Read More...]

“Crime and Punishment: Juvenile Offenders Study Russian Literature”: Washington Post

via Ratty, I think: Kaufman thinks Russian literature is — unexpectedly — a particularly good fit for prisoners. The authors often asked what they called “the accursed questions,” Kaufman said: “Who am I? Why am I here? Given I’m going to die, how should I live?” more [Read more...]

From “Brideshead Revisited”

“I think you are very fond of Sebastian,” she said. “Why, certainly.” “I know of these romantic friendships of the English and the Germans. They are not Latin. I think they are very good if they do not go on too long.” [Read more...]