A Mundane Masquerade: Peter de Vries, “The Tents of Wickedness”

This is a little 1949 satire--dedicated "To James and Helen Thurber," if you want to place it in its social world--about a respectable family man in Decency, Conn., trying to figure out which genre of novel he lives in. He plunges strenuously from Faulkner to Greene all the way to Joyce, and the authorial voice shifts with him. At the same time Charles Swallow, our protagonist, is also trying to figure out whether he's a newspaperman, an advice columnist, or a psychiatrist. And he's trying to … [Read more...]

Time Is Like a Dream/And Now–For a Time–You Are Mine: A Few More Thoughts on “Boyhood”

So when I wrote my review of Boyhood I knew it had gotten good press, but I didn't realize that I would be one of only a handful of critics who found the movie lacking. Apparently it sits around 100% on Rotten Tomatoes. Now that I've had some time to sit with the movie in my memory, here are some further thoughts: some extra praise and some extra criticism, but mostly a reflection on perseverance.The other critics who disliked Boyhood tend to argue that the "film these people over 12 real … [Read more...]

I Write About the Rise of Cracked.com as an Actual Journalism Behemoth Thing

for AmSpec: Gallows humor is one of the most traditional and least savory elements of esprit de corps. For cops, doctors, soldiers, social workers—anybody whose job site is the miserable human heart—gallows humor puts the “against the world” into us-against-the-world. In a Venn diagram of “jokes cops post in online forums” and “civil rights violations,” a lot of material would fall in the overlap area. Emergency-room abbreviations like CTD (Circling the Drain) or FDGB (Fall Down Go Boom) cauteri … [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...]

Musical Rosary #10–Resurrection

After the sabbath, as the first day of the week was dawning, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary came to see the tomb. And behold, there was a great earthquake; for an angel of the Lord descended from heaven, approached, rolled back the stone, and sat upon it. His appearance was like lightning and his clothing was white as snow. The guards were shaken with fear of him and became like dead men. When I was a baby dyke there was this craze for coming-out stories. I owned two volumes which I think … [Read more...]

In Which I Watch “Maleficent”

for AmSpec. I liked it more than their hed/subhed imply, but it's not what the philosophers would call "good": My initial reaction on hearing that Disney was remaking Sleeping Beautyfrom the point of view of Maleficent was, “Oh God, not another one.” Batman, Alice in Wonderland, The Wizard of Oz, Snow White: Must everything get a gritty reboot? I'm surprised the recent My Little Pony show wasn't called “My Little Pony: Love Is the Plan the Plan Is Death.”And the villain's-eye view is also re … [Read more...]

Hard Man Humble: I review “Dom Hemingway”

for AmSpec: Richard Shepard's Dom Hemingway, starring Jude Law as an aging felon and Richard E. Grant (yes) as his best friend, is a bizarre genre hybrid of gangster entertainment and family tearjerker. At first we seem to be solidly in lads'-night-out funland: splashy neon colors, head-butting and gut-punching, terrific music, wenching and boozing and unauthorized smoking. There are rivers of obscenity and wordy, actory speeches. (All of these are given to Law's titular Dom, which is a shame, … [Read more...]


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