The perfect critic — “sureness of touch”

Alfred Kazin’s America should form an essential component of a literature lover’s library. Warm, alert to the divine in the human, Kazin wrote for the common readers, one of the last of the New York intellectuals who included Mary McCarthy, Edmund Wilson, and Philip Rahv. 1982’s “To Be a Critic” has been one of myContinue reading “The perfect critic — “sureness of touch””

Oscars — Scrunchy Face edition

11:59. Spotlight! An upset! We stagger to the exits. An ode to print journalism saves us the forces of Scrunch. 11:56. Scrunchy Face wins the award in the worst Best Actor lineup of my lifetime. Mangling his director’s name, muttering about the fate of the planet, not hesitating a second as he bounded onstage, he’sContinue reading “Oscars — Scrunchy Face edition”

Oscar predictions — the final frontier

My final predictions, and I haven’t even entered a betting pool. ACTOR IN A LEADING ROLE Bryan Cranston, Trumbo Matt Damon, The Martian Leonardo DiCaprio, The Revenant Michael Fassbender, Steve Jobs Eddie Redmayne, The Danish Girl WILL WIN: Bryan Cranston’s here because Hollywood prefers shrill self-mythologizing to truth telling about its cravenness when HUAC wentContinue reading “Oscar predictions — the final frontier”

Clinton and Sanders: after South Carolina

With more money raised than any candidate in either party, commanding the passion of the young, Bernie Sanders killed his primary campaign in South Carolina tonight. As I type, fifty-two percentage points separate him and Hillary Clinton with 29 percent of the vote. Fifty-two. Eight in ten black voters supported Clinton. Sanders is my guy,Continue reading “Clinton and Sanders: after South Carolina”

Oscar Predictions, Part 2

More Oscar picks after my first part: DOCUMENTARY (FEATURE) Amy Cartel Land The Look of Silence What Happened, Miss Simone? Winter on Fire: Ukraine’s Fight for Freedom WILL WIN: Amy SHOULD WIN: The Look of Silence by some distance, despite my dislike of its predecessor The Act of Killing, Joshua Oppenheimer’s other film about theContinue reading “Oscar Predictions, Part 2”

The stakes of the election

Of course I’m going to laugh at an article that begins, “I hear you’re still not Ready for Hillary” before launching into a defense of her sincerity around birthday cakes and attending a staffer’s daughter’s graduation. And paragraphs like these are so soppy that like Oscar Wilde said about a Dickens character it would takeContinue reading “The stakes of the election”

‘A War’ too cozy for comfort

A war with two fronts: in Denmark, Maria Pedersen (Søren Malling) deals with her three unruly elementary school aged kids. Meanwhile over the dusty hills of Afghanistan’s Helmand province, her husband Claus (Pilou Asbæk) leads a group of skilled, scared men against Taliban forces. When during a battle he chooses them over the civilians he’s supposedContinue reading “‘A War’ too cozy for comfort”

Vultures circling: The Life of Pablo

Kanye West – The Life of Pablo “[Kanye] West may be inappropriate and given to TMI, but he’s a fundamentally conservative figure,” Alex Macpherson wrote in his review. So are Alan Jackson and Maxwell, to take two examples. Like other aspirants to godhead, West has mortal blood. West – a would-be potentate wearing a BurgerContinue reading “Vultures circling: The Life of Pablo”

Scalia: St. Hubertus loyalist

We now know what the late Antonin Scalia was up to the weekend he was found dead. The associate justice was hunting as a member of, I’m not lying, the International Order of St. Hubertus: “Honoring God by honoring His creatures,” according to the group’s website. Some hold titles, such as grand master, prior andContinue reading “Scalia: St. Hubertus loyalist”

You mean it’s Oscar time again? My picks

As the first year in which I’ve seen a large percentage of the nominees, 2016 should feel blessed. It should also be a year when I curse the Academy of Motion Picture Farts & Biases for fucking up the Best Picture and Actor categories as usual. But I’ve already posted a counter-canon; I can’t standContinue reading “You mean it’s Oscar time again? My picks”

The queerness of reading

“Could a country that had widely read Huckleberry Finn have taken Donald J. Trump seriously for a second?” David Denby asks in a piece called “Do Teens Read Seriously Anymore?” My response: has anyone who’s read Huckleberry Finn not laughed when reading about the Duke and Dauphin? These acolytes love Mark Twain’s creations, two phoniesContinue reading “The queerness of reading”