Screening Room

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 […]

April 1, 2008

Horton Hears a Who! as Political Theater 2

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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

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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

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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 […]