Terms of mistreatment: 50/50

Directed by Jonathan Levine from a script based on true life by Will Reiser, 50/50 is the sort of movie in which scenes gleam like newly minted clichés. A morning scene between Adam (Joseph Gordon-Levitt, henceforth known as JGL) and girlfriend Rachel (Bryce Dallas Howard) emits the kind of domestic tranquility created so that theContinue reading “Terms of mistreatment: 50/50”

Cynthia Nixon: more right than bright

Frank Bruni: Among adults, the right to love whom you’re moved to love — and to express it through sex and maybe, yes, marriage — is surely as vital to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness as a Glock. And it’s a lot less likely to cause injury, if that’s a deciding factor: howContinue reading “Cynthia Nixon: more right than bright”

Method to his madness: A Dangerous Method

The immediate pleasure offered by A Dangerous Method is literate dialogue. Adapting his own play, Christopher Hampton makes Carl Jung (Michael Fassbender) not a pillar so much as a stalk of rectitude and Sigmund Freud (Viggo Mortensen) a droll ironist addicted to cigars and ascending octaves. A reputation for high-toned gore has shadowed David Cronenberg’sContinue reading “Method to his madness: A Dangerous Method”

On growing old

Each season, the writer’s balance gets worse, and sometimes he falls. He no longer cooks for himself but microwaves widower food, mostly Stouffer’s. If he flies to do a poetry reading, his dear companion Linda, who lives an hour away, must wheelchair him through airport and security. New poems no longer come to him. Generation after generation, his family’s old people sat at this window to watch the year. There are beds in this house where babies were born, where the same babies died eighty years later. After a life of loving the old, by natural law the writer turned old himself. Decades followed each other and then came his cancers, Jane’s death, and over the years he travelled to another universe. However alert we are, antiquity remains an unknown, unanticipated galaxy. It is alien, and old people are a separate form of life. They can be pleasant, they can be annoying, but most important they are permanently other. When we turn eighty, we understand that we are extraterrestrial.

Romney: a virtual parody of an inauthentic politician

A week late but worth linking: what Mitt Romney learned from his dad George, a vigorous philanthropist who marched with Martin Luther King’s followers in Selma, Alabama. Rick Perlstein: When people call his son the “Rombot,” think about that: Mitt learned at an impressionable age that in politics, authenticity kills. Heeding the lesson of hisContinue reading “Romney: a virtual parody of an inauthentic politician”

A note on pandering

Embittered by fifty-two years (!) of false promises, my parents have sworn off voting for candidates who promise Fidel’s head on a platter delivered by a dancing girl who can sing Celia Cruz. Their vote for Republicans ticket is inspired by a combination of embracing the sociopolitical part of “conservatism,” parental exposure to the horrorsContinue reading “A note on pandering”

Hope and deranged: The Ides of March

In which sandpapery-voiced political consultant Steve Meyers (Ryan Gosling) realizes that the Democratic governor and candidate for president (George Clooney) is a louse, and, as a bonus, realizes that he’s a louse too. That’s all that’s at stake in what Tim Robbins’ louse of a Hollywood executive in The Player would classify as a cynicalContinue reading “Hope and deranged: The Ides of March”

Or: how the other half lives

Fascinating: A few conservative concessions to liberalism’s strengths were made without qualification; others were begrudging. Nonetheless, in the conservative assessment, common themes emerge: Liberals recognize the real problems facing the poor, the hardships resulting from economic globalization and the socially destructive force of increasing inequality. Liberals do not dismiss or treat as ideologically motivated scientificContinue reading “Or: how the other half lives”

Fandom stepping out: Disco Inferno

A close to definitive oral history of Disco Inferno, a band about which I knew little until last year. I’ll need this: even after listening with growing pleasure to the reissue of The Five EP‘s last fall my reservations still stand. Ian Crause’s vocals, wry in the undistinguished way of a funny political science adjunct at a publicContinue reading “Fandom stepping out: Disco Inferno”