‘Indiscretion’: we’re not as ‘liberated’ as we think we are

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The wages of sin are presented with great drama and suspense in the new Charles Dubow novel, “Indiscretion” (William Morrow), which follows the impact of marital infidelity on a famous, and famously attractive, rich couple. The first novel has been gathering good reviews since it was published earlier this month, and with good reason — […] [Read More]

‘Curse of the Starving Class’: Sam Shepard done right

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There is so much that can go wrong in any production of a Sam Shepard play — casting, tone, design — that when everything is done right it’s a cause for celebration. That’s what has occurred with Gordon Edelstein’s Long Wharf Theatre staging of “Curse of the Starving Class,” so you really need to get […] [Read More]

‘The Local Stigmatic’: Al Pacino’s 20 year labor of love

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Commentary tracks on DVDs are often little more than thinly disguised PR for the movie in question, but you can’t say that of Al Pacino’s insights on the never-theatrically-released “The Local Stigmatic.”  Based on a one-act play by British writer Heathcote Williams, the 56-minute film was shot during the 1980s, completed in 1990, and then […] [Read More]

Notes on last night’s Oscars, or: has it ever been a good show?

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With its pulse being taken second by second on Twitter and other social media, the Oscar telecast now feels more like a giant focus group than a coherent TV special. Last night, it was hard to sort through the love and hate for new host Seth MacFarlane as he proceeded through the night — lots […] [Read More]

Who needs an Oscar party when you have Twitter?

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For those of us who are “civilians” — i.e. outside of the Hollywood film industry — watching the Oscars has been a long-running, annual orgy of snark. Picking apart the fashion ensembles of the actresses. Questioning the taste of the industry folk when they give an Oscar to a film we hate. Collectively rolling our […] [Read More]

If ‘Argo’ wins best picture, who takes the best director Oscar?

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Movie people and TV network executives believe that more people will watch the annual Oscar telecast when the nominees include big, popular hits. If that’s true Sunday night’s telecast should score great numbers because the best picture division is packed with films that have done well at the box office while pleasing many critics. “Argo,” […] [Read More]

The best book ever written about the Academy Awards?

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Critic and historian Mark Harris has been the most reliably sane and informed commentator on the Oscar race over the past few years. Sadly, for us, Harris had to sit out this year’s Oscars because he is married to Tony Kushner, the screenwriter and playwright who is a nominee for his amazing “Lincoln” script. Harris […] [Read More]

Oscar madness: try to remember Cary Grant & ‘Rocky’

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It’s the movie buff’s equivalent of the Super Bowl. A huge TV event that is anticipated for weeks — months? — and then forgotten almost immediately. At two recent Oscar library discussions that I led, I asked those who attended if they could name the man who won best actor last year, and it took […] [Read More]

‘Things We Love’: no worries about books disappearing

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After viewing e-Book readers as superfluous high-tech foolishness for several years, I fell hook, line and sinker for my Kindle Fire last year. The convenience of having lots of books in one small device won me over very quickly — especially on my five-or-six-times-a-year Amtrak trips to Philadephia to visit family. And, the internal illumination […] [Read More]

What an Oscar meant to Rod Steiger 45 years ago

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After spending more than a decade as one of Hollywood’s finest character actors, Rod Steiger had a brief run as a top-billed movie star after he won an Oscar in 1968 for “In the Heat of the Night.” Steiger had been nominated in the lead actor category two years earlier, for his bravura performance in […] [Read More]