Jidi Dench in Philomena. Credit: The Weinstein Co.

In praise of Stephen Frears (& ‘Philomena’)

The Film Society of Lincoln Center is in the middle of a long tribute to the veteran Hollywood director George Cukor who worked steadily from the 1930s through the 1980s — racking up many classics — but who never developed the singular visual style that made peers such as Alfred Hitchcock much more famous. Cukor’s […] [Read More]

‘Matilda’ and the challenges of child stage actors

It was fun to see the Broadway musical “Matilda” Christmas night thanks to my theater-loving brother. The show appeared on many end-of-the-year 10 best lists and it’s easy to see why — it’s a dark and offbeat musical adapted from a story by the dark and offbeat Roald Dahl, who gave us “Charlie and the […] [Read More]

#FridayReads: MWA Grand Master Carolyn Hart

For me, the best news from the world of letters this month was the announcement that Carolyn Hart would be receiving the Grand Master Award from the Mystery Writers of America at next spring’s Edgar Awards banquet in Manhattan. The Edgar is the Oscar of the mystery world, and the awards evening is suspense-filled as […] [Read More]

Merry Christmas!

Categories: General

Rent it now: the lost Debra Winger gem, ‘Mike’s Murder’

The late writer-director James Bridges earned lots of acclaim — and more than a few dollars — for his 1979 topical hit, “The China Syndrome.” Before that, he wrote and directed the popular 1973 Harvard-Law School-is-Hell-on-Earth picture “The Paper Chase” that launched John Houseman as a character actor. But the best work of Bridges’ career […] [Read More]

Should we give ‘Gone with the Wind’ the heave-ho?

If the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences gives its best picture prize to “12 Years a Slave” in two months it will, among other things, be a corrective for giving the same award to “Gone with the Wind” in 1940. Steve McQueen’s stunning film tells an important story of one black man’s experiences […] [Read More]

#FridayReads: ‘American Mirror’ — a deeper look at Rockwell

Critic and journalist Deborah Solomon makes a strong case for Norman Rockwell being one of the great 20th century American artists in her deeply researched and beautifully written new biography “American Mirror” (Farrar, Straus & Giroux). Solomon’s earlier work includes biographies of Jackson Pollock and Joseph Cornell. In the new book, she shows how Rockwell […] [Read More]

Coming: Sue Monk Kidd’s devastating ‘Invention of Wings’

In a totally coincidental bit of synergy, Sue Monk Kidd’s new novel, “The Invention of Wings” (Viking) — which will be published Jan. 7 — dovetails perfectly with the completely unsentimental look at slavery and the white owners of slaves in the acclaimed current film “12 Years a Slave.” Inspired by the real life abolitionist […] [Read More]