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Reading the Arts

Category: film

Screen and Screen Again: Joan Bennett in Scarlet Street

Two nights ago, feeling the need of a reassuringly familiar movie, I watched something I’ve seen more times than I could possibly guess: Fritz Lang’s provocative 1945 film noir, Scarlet Street. I first came across it when I was a freshman in college, and I found it simultaneously shocking, in a peculiar way, and amusing, […]


Bewitched: a review of My Cousin Rachel

Daphne Du Maurier’s famous romantic suspense novel, My Cousin Rachel, was one of the books that sat on my parents’ shelf from the time I can remember, along with several of her others: Rebecca, and Frenchman’s Creek, and later on, Don’t Look Now. She was the kind of novelist my mother appreciated for her smooth […]


Arrangement in Gray and Black

Kenneth Lonergan’s films are concerned with the complicated situations that are forced on ordinary people, and how they must slog their way through them as best they can. Blessedly, Lonergan’s movies avoid the formulaic storytelling traps that cast a homogeneous fog over so many American films. HIs best work was done in his directorial debut […]


Daredevil Drama

Director Paul Verhoeven (Robocop, Black Book) initially sought to make his new movie, Elle, in the U.S. “Luckily, he did not succeed,” the film’s star, Isabelle Huppert told the press—and I could not agree with her more. Elle was made in France, and I can’t imagine that it could have emerged as the complex, consistently […]


High Water Mark

Hell or High Water is such a good movie that at times it almost left me breathless. It’s a beautifully textured study of two West Texas brothers, Tanner (Ben Foster) and Toby (Chris Pine), who go on a bank-robbing spree to get money to prevent the Texas Midlands Bank from foreclosing on their dead mother’s […]


That ’70s Show

Last Friday I returned to my hometown movie theater, the Coliseum, in Tillamook, Oregon. I hadn’t been there since September, 1979, when I saw Moonraker, Roger Moore’s fourth outing as James Bond. In his fine memoir Lucking Out: My Life Getting Down and Semi-Dirty in Seventies New York, James Wolcott remembers the moment that he […]


Souvenir of Florence

“Music is important, and should not be mocked,” says Earl Wilson, the humorless classical music critic played by Christian McKay in Stephen Frears’ Florence Foster Jenkins. But Jenkins, as played in the film by Meryl Streep, isn’t mocking it at all. She’s playing it straight; she just happens to have no voice whatsoever. Jenkins, a […]


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