Screening Room

April 7, 2009

If Every Day Were Really Like Sunday… 2

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…I’d have to bite the bullet and get Tivo, because in the last few weeks, the Christian Sabbath has become a televisual feast day for people of the book. The 8 p.m. time slot currently offers a difficult choice between NBC’s quasi-Biblical Kings (recommended by Emily) and HBO’s The No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency (filmed […]

March 29, 2009

God Save the Kings! 1

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For fans of Deadwood, the mere name Ian McShane might be enough to tempt you to watch Kings, NBC’s new midseason drama (Sundays 8pm Eastern). But that’s hardly where the attractions end. The show is visually stylish, reminiscent of the 90s Ethan Hawke Hamlet and of Julie Taymor’s Titus Andronicus in that it offers a […]

March 2, 2009

The Wire’s Simon Back on the Beat in Baltimore 0

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The Wire’s David Simon is a former reporter for the Baltimore Sun and famously wielded his journalistic eye as creator of the critically acclaimed series. Though he officially turned in his reporter’s notebook years ago, Simon was moved to do a little freelance reporting for the Washington Post in reaction to a frustrating lack of […]

February 20, 2009

The Revolution That Can’t Be Televised: On Revolutionary Road 4

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After a weak year for movies, this Sunday’s Academy Awards promises more than the usual number of surprises. Will we watch The Curious Case of Benjamin Button rack up 13 Oscars, eclipsing Ben-Hur… or will we watch it edge out The Color Purple for a dubious record: most nominations without a single award? Will we […]

October 27, 2008

“Poor Robin Crusoe” 2

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Somewhere in the middle of Daniel Defoe’s 1719 novel The Life and Strange Surprizing Adventures of Robinson Crusoe, the eponymous hero, by now several years cast away by himself on a deserted island, is startled awake by the sound a voice other than his own: “Robin, Robin, Robin Crusoe, poor Robin Crusoe, where are you […]

August 12, 2008

“Why So Serious?” Batman and the Intellectuals 8

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Reading Nikil Saval (my Stanford friend and colleague)’s review of The Dark Knight at n+1 today, I found myself of two minds about his take. I too had exclaimed angrily about the impossible bustiness of the whole troupe of Russian ballerinas Bruce Wayne (Christian Bale) kidnaps on his yacht, and the befuddling reappearance of Cillian […]

July 11, 2008

May-December (In July) 3

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In 1699, at the age of 32, Jonathan Swift wrote a list of resolutions for himself that he titled “When I come to be old.” The first of these was, “Not to marry a young Woman.” Improbably, reading this Swiftian direction set me compiling a list of movies in which men and women disregard his […]

June 22, 2008

Have You Ever Drunk Bailey’s Out of a Shoe? 1

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What is it about the English that draws them again and again to cross-dressing as a cornerstone of comedy? You’d think that three-hundred and some years on from Charles II’s allowing women on the stage – thereby making pre-pubescent male Juliets a thing of the past – we’d have long ago seen the last of […]

June 4, 2008

Such, Such Were the Joys 12

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I am a fan of nostalgic genres, as my last list testified: Not the least of the charms of the country house movie, following in the tradition of classical pastoral, is that the country house comes to represent a pre-Lapsarian, Edenic space associated with leisure, pleasure, and harmony. Usually this harmony is destroyed or interrupted […]

May 26, 2008

A House in the Country, An Ensemble Cast 7

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There’s something about an ensemble cast. And oh, the pastoral charms of a country house. Though I’d say this cinematic genre is English is certain fundamental ways, it works just as well elsewhere, a demonstrated by the list below (Italy, France, Greece, Los Angeles, Spain, Canada, the O.C.). One of the other interests of this […]