Category Archives: Uncategorized

You can shake me up or I can break you down: the best of Harry Nilsson

This Beatles acolyte learned the lesson: he imitated their eccentricity because he was a natural eccentric and a natural songsmith, not because he wanted to write Great Songs. For a while they poured out of him; he was the shaggiest, … Continue reading

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged | Leave a comment

The best films of Clint Eastwood

He knows where to aim the camera, I’ll admit. The filmography shows signs of imagination betrayed by failures of nerve or a reach incommensurate with the grasp (Changeling, Bird, Hereafter, Jersey Boys). For a while women confused him. His directorial … Continue reading

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged | Leave a comment

Helping the hopeless

Once again, The New Yorker, like many daily newspapers where coastal elites dwell, dips a toe gingerly into the pool of poor white resentment. What Peter Hessler found will surprise no one since November 2016: Before Trump took office, people … Continue reading

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Making allowances: the best of Robert Altman

I can remember the buzz around The Player — the old pro is back. I was too young to know he was an old pro. Then for a few years in the ’90s he astounded a young cineaste. I was … Continue reading

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , | Leave a comment

Trump and McCain: two kinds of toxic stupidity

Although the senior senator from Arizona may have a brain tumor, the current occupant of the Oval Office betrays signs of mental atrophy. Excerpts from the NYT interview: TRUMP: Well, Napoleon finished a little bit bad. But I asked that. … Continue reading

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged | Leave a comment

Movie Love #5

I’ve got a couple contenders for 2017’s best in this edition. Lost in Paris (Abel, Gordon, 2017) 5/10 The Ornithologist (Rodrigues, 2017) 8/10 Baby Driver (Wright, 2017) 7/10 The Beguiled (Coppola, 2017) 5/10 The Student (Serebrennikov, 2017) 6/10 The Beatles: … Continue reading

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , | Leave a comment

The best films of Howard Hawks

“That [Howard] Hawks does not feel himself superior to material many may find ‘corny’, ‘melodramatic’, or ‘banal’ is not a sign of inferior intelligence or sensibility,” wrote Robin Wood in his seminal text on the director. “He responds, directly and … Continue reading

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged | 2 Comments

Animals in their death throes

The GOP in two hundred-fifty characters or less. Posting has been light this July as I go on vacation and finish a more hectic than usual summer semester (I teach all summer). But I couldn’t resist commenting on that missive … Continue reading

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Just a shot away: the best of Martin Scorsese

Pulpish facility and skill is the American way with filmmaking, which explains Martin Scorsese’s extraordinary forty-year success. At his worst he sticks to the pulpish facility (Cape Fear, Shutter Island); at his most mediocre he coughs up fumes of art … Continue reading

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , | Leave a comment

If it bends, it’s funny: the best Woody Allen films

Following mainstream American film in the eighties meant waiting for Woody Allen to release something and watch critics argue. I came along at the tail end — at the time Allen had hooked up with Mia Farrow’s adopted daughter, a … Continue reading

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , | Leave a comment

Singles 7/14

A strong week led by Playboi Carti, a rapper making a hash out of coherence and legibility but who nevertheless freestyles compellingly. The second best track is a drinkin’ song, and while recent entries in this subgenre have been the … Continue reading

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged | Leave a comment

You said you’d die for me: The best of sophisti-pop

As I defined this surprisingly durable subgenre a decade ago The march of Thatcherism and a White House-crafted myth of renascent America—a development confirmed by the massive electoral triumph of Ronald Reagan in 1984 and, in popular culture, the pectoral … Continue reading

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment