Screening Room

July 11, 2008

May-December (In July) 3


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


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


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


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 […]

April 1, 2008

Horton Hears a Who! as Political Theater 2


Todd Walters is a graduate student at The Fletcher School, Tufts University. He also co-authors the politics and culture blog Neither Property Nor Style Tonight, the roles of Socrates and Galileo will be played by Horton and the Mayor of Whoville, respectively. This past Friday night, I was dragged to see the new animated film […]

March 27, 2008

Adaptations and Imaginations 0


I’ve never been a big fan of film adaptations of books. If I watch the movie version and then decide to read the book, as is currently the case with American Psycho, I can’t help but have an image of the actors in my head. If I read the book and then watch the film, […]

February 12, 2008

Ask a Book Question (#58): Books for Fans of Deadwood 7


Poornima writes in: My husband recently stumbled across an HBO series called Deadwood in the library. It’s a television series set in the Black Hills (Sioux Country – Dakotas and Wyoming) around 1876 and features a whole assortment of historically famous/notorious characters including Wild Bill Hickock and Calamity Jane. I was wondering if you or […]

February 10, 2008

Artistic Refusal 0


One of the most morally and aesthetically interesting aspects of Werner Herzog’s 2005 documentary film Grizzly Man, the enchanting and bizarre tale of Timothy Treadwell’s life and death among the grizzlies, is Herzog’s decision not to include the existing audio of Timothy Treadwell and Aime Huguenard’s deaths. Treadwell and girlfriend Huguenard were eaten by a […]

February 4, 2008

The Blank Page On The Silver Screen 1


Maybe it’s the romantic in me, but I’ve always been a sucker for films that offer glimpses, no matter how superficial, into the working life of a writer. When it’s a real literary figure, say Truman Capote as embodied by Philip Seymour Hoffman, I marvel at how the actor, faced with the impossibly daunting task […]

February 3, 2008

Blood, Oil!, and the American Way 2


I guess it’s not giving much away to say that, in the new film by writer/director Paul Thomas Anderson, There Will Be Blood, there is blood. Blood, oil, and baptismal water, symbolizing family, profit, and religion, are the humors that course through this story, inspired by Upton Sinclair’s 1926 novel Oil!. There will be exclamation […]