Thrilling and charming in a way that very few American comedies ever are.
Q. You said the final image of "The Assassination of Jessie James" was a Credit Cookie of the last shot of "The Great Train Robbery," with the cowboy firing his gun at the audience. That gave me an idea for a post-credits final image for "Charlie Wilson's War." As the film implies at the end, the aid to Afghanistan had an eventual blow-back, helping fuel the creation of our enemy Al-Qaeda. How about an Afghan fighter firing rockets at Russian planes, then turning his weapon on the camera and firing right at the audience. Rhys Southan, Richardson, Texas
Q. There are several reports about extreme reactions of early cinema audiences that I find hard to believe. It is said that viewers of the first movies were frightened by what they saw, such as moving images of an incoming train.
Q. I am a devoted fan of Ian McEwan’s novel "Atonement," one of those books that raises your heartbeat and ignites conflicting emotions and thoughts like fireworks exploding in the sky. So many nights I returned to that book to amuse myself for several hours by just repeating the poetry of McEwan’s prose, its words melting over my tongue like butter.
Q: The box-office returns for "The Golden Compass" last weekend were modest at best. The film is estimated to have cost more than $150 million and will have a hard time making its money back. The financial disappointment could be catastrophic for New Line Cinema. Not to mention the fact that any chance of an adaptation of The Subtle Knife and The Amber Spyglass (rest of the trilogy) are now slim to nil. Since you gave the film a positive review, what is your opinion of the box-office returns?
Q. My wife and I saw "Awake" with some friends the other night. I knew nothing about the movie, and wasn't thrilled when I heard it was a thriller with Jessica Alba. I figured it would be a typical superficial piece of garbage aimed at teenagers. I went anyway to be with my wife. I was very pleasantly surprised. I liked that the twists were delivered with subtlety, and I wasn't able to predict one of them.
Q: I went to see "No Country for Old Men" with a group of my friends. I was absolutely fascinated and riveted by the film and think it is the best film I have seen thus far this year. My very good friend, who also happens to be a very smart guy, thought the film was terrible. I was shocked. Should I debate the merits of the film with him? Is it even worth debating such a wonderful film when the person you are debating with has no appreciation for it, and does it pose a risk to the friendship?
Q: To me, "Beowulf" was one of the most thrilling movies ever. I can't believe you thought people should have been laughing at it.
Q: One of the things that's been bugging my inner biology geek about "Bee Movie" is that Jerry Seinfeld is the wrong sex to be a worker bee. All worker bees are female, and they're the only ones who would ever have to worry about pollination, honey-making and all the other things the movie identifies as being general bee behavior. Last year, "Barnyard" made a similar mistake, by giving udders to male cows, and received widespread derision for it.
Q. I have enjoyed reading your views on the digital vs. film issue and was wondering if you had any update on how Dean Goodhill's "Maxivision 48" system has been coming along. Do you know of any directors who are actually considering using it for a feature production? I was sad to read in one of your articles that Eastman House is going digital as well, and lately director Sidney Lumet has mentioned that film is going to be gone within 50 years. I would love to hear if you have any updates about Maxivision 48.
Q: In response to the Answer Man item about the significance of the horses in the field of "Michael Clayton," the reason Clayton stopped at the horses and the tree was because this was a significant image in the red book his son had given him to read -- the book he couldn't find time for. The image of the tree and the horses gave Clayton reason to pause and ponder his son and his life, which ultimately saved him, since it removed him from the vehicle.