‘My nuclear nightmare, born of long and deep experience’

Here’s a cheerful way to ring out the old year. Former secretary of defense William Perry: A soft-spoken man not given to hyperbole, Perry is on a public crusade to persuade people that nothing less than the future of civilization is at stake. What worries him most is that few seem to notice. “Our chiefContinue reading “‘My nuclear nightmare, born of long and deep experience’”

The five worst films of 2015

I see no point in trashing a horror movie or comedy. You paid for it, sucker — what did you expect? More fun is to mention prestige favorites that embarrassed themselves. Below are the first most execrable moviewatching experiences of 2015 and possibly 2016, for I still haven’t recovered my equilibrium after exposure to theContinue reading “The five worst films of 2015”

Ruth Marcus offers more Clinton Chronicles

Joan Didion: No one who ever passed through an American public high school could have watched the current president of the United States running for office in 1992 and failed to recognize the familiar predatory sexuality of the provincial adolescent. The man was, Jesse Jackson said that year to another point, “nothing but an appetite.”Continue reading “Ruth Marcus offers more Clinton Chronicles”

Screenings #14

My private plane grounded for fueling problems, I couldn’t make the Film Society of Lincoln Center’s Douglas Sirk retrospective last year. But I did watch The First Legion, the director’s last project before Universal gloss. Set in a Jesuit seminary reeling from the possibility of a miracle occurring within its own walls, The First LegionContinue reading “Screenings #14”


Frequent guests to HTV know my fascination with Ronald Gatsby, sovereign of the United States for eight years. Forget the sycophants and mountebanks. Unless declassified FBI files revealed that he and Mikhail Gorbachev had joyous, unprotected sex in the Rose Room, nothing I’d learn in 2016 would surprise me about Reagan. But as the presidentialContinue reading “REAGAN REAGAN REAGAN”

Star Wars: The Force Awakens: it worked

As the sixty millionth person to watch Star Wars: The Force Awakens, I have little to add to the commentary. I liked the thing. For a franchise that smelled like Bantha poodoo in 2005, to return to such crisp, confident form, especially in a decade marked by ever more frantic action pictures, is relief enough.Continue reading “Star Wars: The Force Awakens: it worked”

The Force Awakens: it’s a film!

I’ll have more to say tomorrow, I hope, but Ta-Nehisi Coates‘ remarks strike me as apposite: However one feels about The Force Awakens, it is—in fact—a film. The aims of the heroes are coherent and accessible. The acting is good. (I really liked Ridley and Boyega.) And the pacing is well-managed. I’m an old man,Continue reading “The Force Awakens: it’s a film!”

‘Youth’ a doddering film about old age

Deliver us from evil. Beholden to the shibboleth that people hear wisdom in the groaning sentimentality of aging men, Youth gets encrusted in its own snot. Paolo Sorrentino’s follow-up to his 2013 Oscar winner The Great Beauty represents no advance besides its makers’ new talent for spending dough. Exiled in a millionaires’ spa in theContinue reading “‘Youth’ a doddering film about old age”

‘2015 didn’t just break the global temperature record — it crushed it.’

Well, this isn’t reassuring: Across the country, the weather has more closely resembled spring than typical December temperatures. “According to preliminary data from NOAA’s National Centers for Environmental Information (NCEI), at least 2,693 record daily highs were tied or broken across the U.S. during the first 23 days of December. An additional 3,912 record-warm dailyContinue reading “‘2015 didn’t just break the global temperature record — it crushed it.’”

‘We get off on the fear’

“Though our economy may not be what it was, we’re actually safer and less susceptible to crime or war than at any time in our history,” Matt Taibbi writes. “But in the same way retailers want us buying on Christmas, others want us scared to death and addicted to news of threats at home andContinue reading “‘We get off on the fear’”

Earnestness endangering true love: The Shop Around the Corner

Every year Ernest Lubitsch’s great, gentle comedy threatens to eclipse It’s a Wonderful Time‘s place as the best Christmas movie; maybe it has. Released in 1940, The Shop Around the Corner is one of the few perfect films in existence, its performances, Samuel Raphaelson script, and, most importantly, pace combining into a numinous whole. JamesContinue reading “Earnestness endangering true love: The Shop Around the Corner”