Screening Room

May 15, 2013

You Can’t Repeat the Past, Old Sport: On Leo, Baz, Gatsby, and Me 4

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When I read Chronicle critic Mick LaSalle opine recently that Romeo + Juliet was ‘too contemptible even to be called a desecration,’ I know that he never lay in virginal bed with headphones and discman, listened to Thom Yorke utter the eternal invitation, “I’ll be waiting, with a gun and a pack of sandwiches,” and just felt so much.

May 3, 2013

Herblock Loved the Little Guy and Hated Nixon’s Guts 6

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Herblock drew McCarthy and Nixon with swarthy mugs, sweating, frequently crawling out of mud puddles or open sewer holes. Herblock hated Nixon’s guts and wasn’t shy about saying so. In our watered-down, fair-minded times, such venom is bracing.

April 19, 2013

Lessons of Hollywood: On the Fate of “Middle Class” Art 3

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If there were no more “middle class” movies, then in what other arenas would an ostensible middle class suffer? Publishing, for sure. But what about . . . everything else?

April 4, 2013

The Rapist Next Door: On Harmony Korine’s Spring Breakers 10

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If Spring Breakers can have any place in our culture, if it can be something worth seeing, its worth must be located in its frightening capacity to capture a world we dismiss as “just fun,” to capture the seductions of a world we refuse to understand.

February 21, 2013

Stages of Television Grief: On the Decline of Downton Abbey 15

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There is something notable about the backlash when a television character is killed: fans take the opportunity to tear apart the writers’ choices beyond the decision to bump off an individual: across the show, all the indignities they’d have suffered through if everyone had been permitted to live.

February 8, 2013

How Joe Wright Got Anna Right, and the Critics Got It Wrong 7

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But to criticize is easy. To create is hard. And Wright has shown himself to be every inch the creator, not on the level of Tolstoy, of course, but certainly on the same emotional and philosophical wave length.

January 29, 2013

Think of Bread in General: On Making Books Into Movies 12

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“Everyone accepts that stories and movies are different things.” Indeed. But how, exactly? Is one a higher art form than the other? Does one strengthen children’s brains while the other is more likely to rot them?

January 10, 2013

Ten Books to Read Now That HBO’s Girls Is Back 16

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These are books that — like Girls — explore what it is like to be young and hungry — hungry for love and hungry for sex, but most of all, hungry for recognition and hungry for adulthood. Ultimately, the girls in these books, like the girls of Girls, are hungry to become the women they will one day be.

October 30, 2012

Big Bird is History: Why We Fund PBS 15

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CTW’s Sesame Street started in 1969 as a grand experiment to see what would happen if you gave all children (inner city, rural kids, and suburban alike) entertaining pre-school lessons as a head start. When you consider the alternatives, this is an awfully cheap way to educate and unite kids all over the country.



October 26, 2012

Filming the Unfilmmable: On David Mitchell’s Cloud Atlas 2

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Cloud Atlas is no mere adaptation: it’s a big, ambitious structural overhaul, one that has been likened by Mitchell, amongst others, to a mosaic, all of his Russian dolls smashed to pieces and carefully reassembled.