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Thompson on Hollywood

Now and Then: Mizoguchi's Bitter Masterpiece 'The Life of Oharu' Now on Criterion

Director Kenji Mizoguchi's "The Life of Oharu" (1952), newly available in a high-def digital restoration from the Criterion Collection, teems with contradictions. It's epic yet delicate, set in feudal Japan but animated by modern anxieties, at once a traditional picaresque and a bold feminist classic.
  • By Matt Brennan
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  • July 10, 2013 1:44 PM
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  • 0 Comments

Now and Then: Hollywood's Civil War Obsession

Director Ron Maxwell's "Copperhead," on VOD and in select theaters Friday, is the sixth Civil War-era film to debut in the past 12 months, the most earnest and straightforward in a burgeoning subgenre. Nearly 150 years after the Battle of Gettysburg, The War Between the States remains Hollywood's favorite war.
  • By Matt Brennan
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  • June 25, 2013 8:25 PM
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  • 1 Comment

Now and Then: Five Reasons 'Mumblecore' and 'Millennial' Don't Mean the Same Thing

Reading wave after wave of writing about the Millennial generation and the so-called "mumblecore" movement, you would be forgiven for thinking the commentators had somehow mistaken movies for real life.
  • By Matt Brennan
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  • June 13, 2013 1:44 PM
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  • 1 Comment

Now and Then: Remarkable New Doc 'La Camioneta,' a Masterful Miniature (TRAILER)

Spotsylvania County, Virginia and Queztal City, Guatemala are separated by nearly 3,000 miles of road, and by what would seem, at first, an unbridgeable cultural distance. But in Mark Kendall's remarkable documentary "La Camioneta" -- a brilliant microhistory of our globalized world -- you're hard pressed to consider them anything but neighbors.
  • By Matt Brennan
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  • May 29, 2013 2:10 PM
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  • 1 Comment

Now and Then: In Two 'Steel Magnolias,' the Times Are Not A-Changin'

The first thing one notices about "Steel Magnolias" (Herbert Ross, 1989) is the hair. Truvy's Beauty Shop overflows with tight-rolled pastel curlers and foot-high teases, held in place by enough hairspray to commit arson -- a style so far out of fashion it seems historical, as rococo as Marie Antoinette's bedsheets.
  • By Matt Brennan
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  • May 14, 2013 3:07 PM
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  • 0 Comments

Now and Then: Olivier and the Bard

"I can smile, and murder while I smile," confides that notorious noble, Richard, Duke of Gloucester (Laurence Olivier), "and frame my face to all occasions." For Olivier, pronouncing "frame" like "feign," it's an auspicious beginning. In Shakespeare's words, he finds his performer's credo.
  • By Matt Brennan
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  • April 26, 2013 3:03 PM
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  • 1 Comment

Now and Then: 'Veep' and Why We Need Satire Right Now

Satire and solemnity are tense bedfellows, and in the aftermath of the Boston Marathon bombings -- after the flags of nations stiffened in the white smoke of the blast, after the dead began to be named, the wounded tallied, the innumerable stories of bravery recounted -- you might say the latter is the order of the day, and you would be right.
  • By Matt Brennan
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  • April 17, 2013 2:35 PM
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  • 0 Comments

Now and Then: Cary Grant, The Man from Dream City, Revisited (CLIPS)

My own fever dream of Cary Grant takes place between cities, sitting down for a Gibson with Eva Marie Saint on a moving train somewhere in Middle America. Headed "North by Northwest," he's at his sexiest then, temples just flecked with gray, tanned and almost ageless. He's not just the recipient of her advances: he's asking for it.
  • By Matt Brennan
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  • April 10, 2013 2:03 PM
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  • 3 Comments

Now and Then: Why We Love GIFs, from Taylor Swift to Goats (VIDEO)

Disclaimer: this will not be your usual romance. It involves Taylor Swift, a goat, and a lemon among its cast of thousands. It has no clear "meet cute," and may not reach a happy ending. In one sense at least, it has no beginning or ending at all. But somewhere along the way we fell in love with the GIF. This is one man's attempt to explain why.
  • By Matt Brennan
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  • April 2, 2013 3:49 PM
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  • 0 Comments

Now and Then: Quentin Dupieux's 'Wrong' Exposes the Limits of Surrealism

Drafthouse Films, the distributor of Quentin Dupieux's bizarre new film, "Wrong," describes the French director and electronic musician (stage name: Mr. Oizo) as "one of the world’s most fearless cinematic surrealists." The surreal does indeed seem to be Dupieux's preferred register, but this leads me to a trickier question. Should we care?
  • By Matt Brennan
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  • March 26, 2013 3:21 PM
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  • 4 Comments

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