‘Thieves’: why do we love clever criminals so much?

on
Heist novels and movies seem to fall into one of two categories — the charming rogue variety (i.e. “Topkapi”) or the pitch black, watch-your-back school (“The Grifters”). Peter Spiegelman has taken a break from his wonderful series of John March financial crime investigation novels to give us the new stand-alone “Thick as Thieves” (Knopf) which […] [Read More]

‘Civility’: the R-rated depression delight Jean Arthur never made

on
The other day I wrote about the pleasing convergence of popular and critical success for “Rise of the Planet of the Apes.” The same thing is happening in the book world with Amor Towles’s first novel “Rules of Civility” (Viking), which was recently published to rapturous reviews and which debuted on The New York Times […] [Read More]

Anne Hathaway: embracing the ripe old age of 28

on
Like almost everyone else who goes to the movies, I think Anne Hathaway is very talented and very easy on the eyes in everything from “The Devil Wears Prada” to “Love and Other Drugs.” The stunning actress can sing beautifully as well — a gift that was not so noticeable during her Oscar co-hosting chores earlier […] [Read More]

‘Russian Dolls’: how low can reality TV go?

on
With the budget crunch obviously outweighing real audience-building concerns, the push for cheap reality shows on cable doesn’t appear to be lessening. Case in point: “Russian Dolls,” which is debuting on Lifetime on Thursday night at 10:30 p.m. Even by the debased standards of this genre, the show is a tacky dud that squanders a decent opportunity […] [Read More]

‘Apes’ eureka! moment: make a good movie and they will come

on
It was wonderful to observe the convergence of good reviews, strong grosses and positive audience response to the opening of “Rise of the Planet of the Apes” over the weekend. It’s nice to see a Hollywood studio get a big-budget franchise picture right for a change. 20th Century Fox is going to make a fortune […] [Read More]

The Conan vs. Leno TV war book gets a paperback update

on
There has to be some truth to that old maxim about everyone having two businesses — their own and show business. The behind-the-scenes information on Hollywood and Broadway used to be confined to the pages of trade papers like Variety and The Hollywood Reporter. Now, the problems with a film in production or a Broadway […] [Read More]

Can a daughter rise above her slutty, shopaholic mother?

on
Linda Urbach immerses the reader in mid-19th century France in the new novel, “Madame Bovary’s Daughter” (Bantam Books), but this historical novel explores issues that feel timeless. Are we hard-wired by our DNA to repeat the mistakes of our parents? Or, can we use them as examples of what not to do and carve out […] [Read More]

The rise of the R-rated rom-com: or, the ‘Sex & the City’ effect

on
After playing it safe for too long with tame PG-13 fare, Hollywood is learning again this summer that there is a large market for R-rated romantic comedies — for men and women. “Bridesmaids” has hung on in theaters since June, with a gross of more than $160,000,000 (and counting) and “Friends with Benefits” has made $40,000,000 […] [Read More]