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Clint Abides: TROUBLE WITH THE CURVE

In one of his great essays about baseball, the late A. Bartlett Giamatti famously called the game “our best invention to stay change.” Giamatti (who, besides being president of Yale University, was briefly commissioner of Major League Baseball) added, “I need to think something lasts forever, and it might as well be that state of being that is a game; it might as well be that, in a green field, in the sun.”
  • By Peter Tonguette
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  • September 28, 2012 8:21 AM
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PETER TONGUETTE: An extremely misunderstood, incredibly moving 9/11 drama

At what point do you start to wonder if a particular day might be the worst of your life? Maybe you realize it gradually over the course of an especially sour afternoon as things just keep going wrong. That is what happens in Roman Polanski’s "Carnage," and when the Kate Winslet character says at the end that it has been the worst day of her life, what she means is that the day and its accumulation of indignities has finally worn her down. On the other hand, sometimes it only takes a split-second for a fine, normal, nothing day to become “the worst day.” That is what Oskar Schell in "Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close" calls it: “the worst day.” September 11. The day that his father, Thomas, is killed in the attack on the World Trade Center. We should never, ever forget what Joan Didion says: “Life changes fast. Life changes in the instant.”
  • By Peter Tonguette
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  • February 9, 2012 5:13 AM
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  • 1 Comment

INTERVIEW: What You Can Get Away With: The Collegial Cutting Room Collaborators of Joe Dante, Part 2

  • By Peter Tonguette
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  • January 14, 2012 11:07 AM
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What You Can Get Away With: The Collegial Cutting Room Collaborators of Joe Dante, Part 1

Like so many children of the eighties, I grew up with Joe Dante’s films, and knew even the less heralded ones—like "Explorers" (1985) or "Innerspace" (1987)—by heart. When I decided to write about his work, I spent a long time searching for an angle or hook before I asked myself a very simple question: How many directors began their professional careers by editing trailers for Roger Corman?
  • By Peter Tonguette
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  • January 13, 2012 3:44 PM
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PETER TONGUETTE: EVERYONE SAYS I LOVE YOU is a stealthy Christmas classic

By the time I saw Woody Allen’s Christmas movie Everyone Says I Love You, Christmas was over, and so was New Year’s Eve. It wasn’t until some dreary day in the middle of something like February that the film reached us, weeks after the tree had been taken out to the curb and the confetti swept away. That day, Christmas seemed very far away. It wasn’t just that the season had passed. It was where I was calling from, as Raymond Carver might put it, that was the problem. Everyone Says I Love You was a musical comedy set in Manhattan, Venice, and Paris, and it was the last city that served as the backdrop for the film’s richly evoked Christmas scenes. Well, I had never been to any of those cities, and it was hard not to feel out of the loop when gawking at them from Slidell, Louisiana, the city north of New Orleans where for all intents and purposes I grew up.
  • By Peter Tonguette
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  • December 22, 2011 1:12 PM
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PETER TONGUETTE: Director Steven Spielberg and editor Michael Kahn: a life long partnership

I was the sort of kid who paid attention to movie credits, even if I didn’t comprehend them, so from an early age I was familiar with the name of Michael Kahn. There it was, appearing again and again at the start of some of my favorite movies as a child: Close "Encounters of the Third Kind," "Raiders of the Lost Ark"," Empire of the Sun." It was always preceded by words like “Film Editor” or “Edited By.”
  • By Peter Tonguette
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  • December 20, 2011 9:29 AM
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PICTURES OF LOSS: A SOLDIER'S DAUGHTER NEVER CRIES, directed by James Ivory

This last one is going to be hard to explain. Bear with me. It all goes back to a book of short stories by Gordon Lish called What I Know So Far, and the question, “Why do I think so often about What I Know So Far?”
  • By Peter Tonguette
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  • November 25, 2011 10:19 AM
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  • 0 Comments

PICTURES OF LOSS: MEN DON'T LEAVE, directed by Paul Brickman

It would seem that what I want are movies about the art of losing, as Elizabeth Bishop might say. But some of those same movies are also about the art of finding. Take Steven Spielberg’s Empire of the Sun, a film that made a deep impression on me when I first saw it at the precocious age of eight. While young Jamie Graham is separated from his mother and father in Shanghai during World War II, in the end the family is brought back together. The loss is temporary. The loss is remedied. When he sees his mother for the first time since he let go unthinkingly let go of her hand on the fateful day, he almost can’t believe it. He reaches for her face and hands, as if to verify the miracle that she is back. (For some reason, it always struck me that Jamie’s mother wore red nail polish when they were separated, but she doesn’t when they are reunited—after a war, everyone looks worse for the wear, not just Jamie.)
  • By Peter Tonguette
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  • November 24, 2011 11:07 AM
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  • 4 Comments

PICTURES OF LOSS: RUNNING ON EMPTY, directed by Sidney Lumet

If I told you I was writing about movies that have meant something to me after my father died, you probably wouldn’t blink if I said that Hereafter and The Darjeeling Limited were among my choices. You might have even thought of them yourself. But Running on Empty? Don’t humor me—you wouldn’t have thought of it in a million years. After all, no one dies (on screen) in Running on Empty. The film does not take bereavement as its subject as the other two do. And yet every time I watch it now it reminds me of my father.
  • By Peter Tonguette
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  • November 23, 2011 3:06 AM
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  • 1 Comment

PICTURES OF LOSS: THE DARJEELING LIMITED, directed by Wes Anderson

About a year-and-a-half after my father died, I was at the Ohio Theatre (a former Loew’s movie palace in Columbus, Ohio) waiting for a screening of To Kill a Mockingbird to begin when I mindlessly reached for my inside jacket pocket. I seldom wear the navy blue blazer I had on, and I suppose I was curious to see what old to-do list or movie program I might find stuffed in it. What I found instead was some unused Kleenex tissue, neatly folded in the shape of a square. “What was that doing there?” I thought at first.
  • By Peter Tonguette
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  • November 22, 2011 10:14 AM
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  • 7 Comments

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