It's Roger's birthday and we're celebrating by highlighting our favorite reviews and essays by the master.
The latest on Blu-ray, DVD and streaming includes Kubo and the Two Strings, One-Eyed Jacks, Pete's Dragon, and more!
An appreciation of Ken Burns' fascinating "The West" on its 20th anniversary and a case to call Burns an auteur.
Sheila writes: The polar vortex has been on everyone's minds, for obvious reasons, and I came across a site with startling gorgeous shots of Chicago in a deep freeze. I used to live in Chicago and became accustomed to the brutal winters, and the lake freezing over, but I never saw anything like this during my time there. These pictures are amazing!
Ridley Scott's new film, whose production was interrupted by the suicide of the director's brother Tony, is a weird melding of their styles, concerns and temperaments.
You may find it disturbing to see audiences laughing while watching "The Exorcist"(1973), but you will probably not see any problem in having some laugh with "Rosemary’s Baby" (1968). It goes without saying that they are two of the most chilling modern horror films, but, while the former unsettles us with its utmost solemnness parodied many times since it came out, the latter has a spooky sense of humor immune to parodies. How can you make an effective parody to undermine a horror film if it already has a devilish tongue slyly placed on its dark cheek?
You better watch out You better not cry You better have clout We're telling you why Two Thumbs Down are comin' to town We're making a list, Checking it twice; Gonna find out whose movie was scheiss. Sandy Claws is comin' to town. We see you when you're (bleeping), We know when you're a fake We know if you've been bad or good So be good for cinema's sake!
Marie writes: I love photography, especially B/W and for often finding color a distraction. Take away the color and suddenly, there's so much more to see; the subtext able to rise now and sit closer to the surface - or so it seems to me. The following photograph is included in a gallery of nine images (color and B/W) under Photography: Celebrity Portraits at the Guardian."This is one of the last photographs of Orson before he died. He loved my camera - a gigantic Deardorff - and decided he had to direct me and tell me where to put the light. So even in his last days, he was performing his directorial role perfectly, and bossing me around. Which was precious." - Michael O'Neill
Orson Welles, by Michael O'Neill, 1985
First posted in 2011. Reposting now in response to this story.
As an aficionado of industrial design, I find the G-tube admirable. A small tunnel is opened above the belly button and leads directly into the stomach. Food passes through the tube. I dine. No fuss, no muss. In earlier years I would have found this idea horrifying. Not so much now that I need it to stay alive. Invention is the child of necessity. In this invention, common sense was more important than genius. The Egyptians first hit upon the notion of tubes for feeding people centuries ago.
"Death disports with writers more cruelly than with the rest of humankind," Cynthia Ozick wrote in a recent issue of The New Republic.
"The grave can hardly make more mute those who were voiceless when alive--dust to dust, muteness to muteness. But the silence that dogs the established writer's noisy obituary, with its boisterous shock and busy regret, is more profound than any other.
"Oblivion comes more cuttingly to the writer whose presence has been felt, argued over, championed, disparaged--the writer who is seen to be what Lionel Trilling calls a Figure. Lionel Trilling?
Having once made the statement above, I have declined all opportunities to enlarge upon it or defend it. That seemed to be a fool's errand, especially given the volume of messages I receive urging me to play this game or that and recant the error of my ways. Nevertheless, I remain convinced that in principle, video games cannot be art. Perhaps it is foolish of me to say "never," because never, as Rick Wakeman informs us, is a long, long time. Let me just say that no video gamer now living will survive long enough to experience the medium as an art form.
I mentioned that I can no longer eat or drink. A reader wrote: "That sounds so sad. Do you miss it?" Not so much really. Not anymore. Understand that I was never told that after surgery I might lose the ability to eat, drink and speak. Eating and drinking were not mentioned, and it was said that after surgery I might actually be able to go back to work on television.
Success in such surgery is not unheard of. It didn't happen that way. The second surgery was also intended to restore my speaking ability. It seemed to hold together for awhile, but then, in surgeon-speak, also "fell apart."
The most perfect cartoon caption I've ever seen was created by James Thurber, and ran in the New Yorker in 1932. It showed two fencers. One had just sliced off the other's head. The caption was: Touche! You may know some that are funnier. What bothers me is that I will have written none of them. I have entered the New Yorker's cartoon caption contest almost weekly virtually since it began, and have never even been a finalist. Mark Twain advised: "Write without pay until somebody offers to pay you. If nobody offers within three years, sawing wood is what you were intended for." I have done more writing for free for the New Yorker in the last five years than for anybody in the previous 40 years.
It's not that I think my cartoon captions are better than anyone else's, although some weeks, understandably, I do. It's that just once I want to see one of my damn captions in the magazine that publishes the best cartoons in the world. Is that too much to ask? Maybe I'm too oblique for them. The New Yorker's judges seem to live inside the box, and too many of their finalists are obvious--even no-brainers, you could say.
Example. An executive is seated at a desk, interviewing a giant lobster. Winning aption: "And why did you leave your job at Red Lobster?" I mean, come on! That's level one. It's obvious. It's not even funny. Let's work together on this. Let's try lateral thinking. A perfect caption should redefine the cartoon, and yet seem consistent with it.