“The Boy Is the Father of Whatever”: I Review Richard Linklater’s “Boyhood”

at AmCon: About an hour and a half into Richard Linklater’s memorable new film, my notes say, “This is RIVETING.” Exactly one hour later, as the movie finally ceased (“ended” is too strong, too decisive), I breathed a sigh of relief. What went wrong to turn the movie from startling, luminous journey into boring, platitudinous slog?Linklater’s movie has gained a lot of press for one of those gimmicks which hide deep meaning under their showy surface, like the delays in Hamlet. Linklater shot … [Read more...]

Various Tails: Or, An Update on My Summer Reading

This year I answered not one but two of those hubristic "What do you plan to read this summer?" poll-articles. Last year I read exactly one of my "planned" (= "selected in order to bolster my public image," really) books, and didn't like it--you guys can hate me, but I did not get A Confederacy of Dunces at all, just thoroughly remained outside of it the whole time. I did read Two Murders in My Double Life eventually, and liked it.But this year I've knocked off the lot (more or less) fairly … [Read more...]

From “Graham Greene on Film: Collected Film Criticism, 1935-1939″

During the conferences [with David Selznick] which followed I remember there were times when there seemed to be a kind of grim reason in Mr Selznick's criticisms--surely here perhaps there was a fault in "continuity," I hadn't properly "established" this or that. I would forget momentarily the lesson which I had learned as a film critic--that to "establish" something is almost invariably wrong and that "continuity" is often the enemy of life. Man, that is great advice, especially the bit about … [Read more...]

I Review “Venus in Fur” Movie

for AmSpec: Venus in Fur opens like a horror film—more precisely, like a horror-comedy. The camera swoops slowly over rainswept streets toward a shuttered theater, as thunder rolls and a darkly glittering waltz plays. The music sets the mood for something like Beetlejuice or even Gremlins: The carnival’s in town, and it opens at midnight!Roman Polanski’s adaptation of David Ives's play about Leopold Sacher-Masoch’s perverse novel Venus in Furs manages to sustain this edgy, gleeful mood despi … [Read more...]

Pelagius of Montreal

1989's does-what-it-says-on-the-tin Jesus of Montreal is two hours long, and for the first hour and a half I loathed the movie and everyone in it. By the end, though, I was totally compelled and moved, and I think the movie has real insight into the Procrustean drive to recreate God in our own image.The basic story is that a fairly faithless priest gathers a bunch of non-Christian actors to revamp his annual passion play. They get super intense about it, of course, led by the guy who plays … [Read more...]

“Carrie White Will Never Die”: I review the Carrie musical

at AmCon: Carrie is the only book I ever put down because I knew I was too young for it. It was the summer between fourth and fifth grade and I was staying with cousins, taking the opportunity to raid their bookshelves. I flipped idly through the book’s opening, got to the shower scene (“Plug it up! Plug it up!”), and–for once in my life–realized I was in over my head. The combination of nudity, menstruation, and sadism, all happening to kids just a few years older than I was, overwhelmed me. I’ … [Read more...]

Musical Rosary #15–The Crowning of Mary, Queen of Heaven

A great sign appeared in the sky, a woman clothed with the sun, with the moon under her feet, and on her head a crown of twelve stars. This mystery takes me back to what I said about the Scourging at the Pillar. I am not the Queen of my own heart; I am not, if I'm doing it right, the captain of my soul. I'm not the fantasy character who was raised as a mere pigkeeper but learns that she has a secret destiny to save the world and then rule it. Our task in life is to discern whom to serve and … [Read more...]


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