Women Talking Will Definitely Have You Talking

The film Women Talking opens with what amounts to a warning: “This is an act of female imagination.” That’s because it’s not actually a telling of the events on which it is based, the horrific story of rape and abuse of more than 130 people in a small Bolivian Mennonite community called Manitoba between 2005 and 2009. Continue Reading...

Top Gun: Maverick: Our America Is Back

The surprise hit of 2022 was Top Gun: Maverick, a man and machine heroic picture, sentimental and nostalgic, the sort of thing Hollywood just doesn’t do anymore. At first glance it seemed way too old-fashioned, yet it made more than $700 million in America and just a bit more than that in the rest of the world, without even opening in China. Continue Reading...

The Success of Avatar Is Nothing to Celebrate

The biggest box office success in cinema history, strictly in dollars taken in, is Avatar, the 2009 movie that made 3D a technology audiences would finally flock to. The movie made some $785 million in America, more than another $2 billion in the rest of the world, adding up to about $2.9 billion. Continue Reading...

A Bond for All Seasons

As the producers of the venerable James Bond franchise come to ponder how best to refurbish their hero for the uncertain times ahead—a woman, perhaps, and/or a person of color?—a small but persistent debate among film buffs continues to address the chicken-and-egg dilemma of which came first: Have the actors successively playing Bond over the past 60-plus years consciously fine-tuned their performance in response to all the eddies in fashion and culture, or have they been ahead of the curve in defining the limits of an acceptable sort of male behavior for the rest of us to emulate? Continue Reading...

Sunset Blvd. Is Your New Year’s Sanity Test

Last New Year’s Eve, I wrote about Billy Wilder’s The Apartment. It’s the best movie on the ambivalence with which we welcome the end of one year and the coming of a new one, worrying whether it promises that our dreams will come true, whether we will live up to our resolutions to be better. Continue Reading...

Sinners, Saints, and Grace in We’re No Angels

Michael Curtiz, famed director of Casablanca, made a Christmas movie in 1955, starring Humphrey Bogart, called We’re No Angels, about the power of innocence and moral decency to transform even hardened criminals—of whom Bogart is one, the other two played by the famous British actor-director Peter Ustinov and the American son of Italian immigrants Aldo Ray. Continue Reading...
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