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Thompson on Hollywood

Now and Then: In TCM Battle of the Blondes, Who Comes Out on Top?

  • By Matt Brennan
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  • November 28, 2011 12:54 PM
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  • 1 Comment

Lumet's 12 Angry Men a Classic, Beyond a Reasonable Doubt

They’re talking about a switchblade. If the murder weapon in question is one of a kind, linking the young defendant to his father’s death, they can return a guilty sentence — and the mandatory capital punishment — in mere minutes. "But what if it isn’t?" Juror 8 asks. He pulls an identical knife from his pocket and sticks it into the table. Still incredulous, the eleven angry men now on their feet leer at him. "It’s just a trick, a stunt," they say, the story he’s telling so unlikely — another person bought a knife identical to the one the boy owned and murdered the father with it while the boy was out — that “the odds are a million to one.”
  • By Matt Brennan
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  • November 21, 2011 12:20 PM
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  • 0 Comments

Apocalypses Now and Then: Von Trier’s Melancholia vs. Anderson’s Magnolia

In his “Now and Then” column this week, Matt Brennan examines two visionary directors’ takes on the end of the world as we know it — controversial Dane Lars von Trier’s Melancholia (on VOD now, in theaters Friday) and Paul Thomas Anderson’s sprawling 1999 classic Magnolia.
  • By Matt Brennan
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  • November 7, 2011 8:20 AM
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  • 1 Comment

Brand New Spy and Cult Classic Alias Play Spy Game--by Different Rules

In this week’s “Now and Then” column, Matt Brennan takes a look at two players in the small-screen spy game, the new Sky 1/Hulu comedy Spy and J.J. Abrams breakout cult hit, Alias.
  • By Matt Brennan
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  • October 31, 2011 3:45 AM
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  • 0 Comments

Now and Then Sees Double: Margin Call/Wall Street and Weekend/Before Sunset

With a couple of superb new indies making well-deserved waves, Matt Brennan’s “Now and Then” column pulls extra duty this week by taking on two double features for the price of one: Margin Call vs. Wall Street, and Weekend vs. Before Sunset. Trailers below:
  • By Matt Brennan
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  • October 24, 2011 3:53 AM
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  • 0 Comments

In The Tree of Life, Malick's Experimentation Gets Under the Skin

With the debate about its Oscar chances heating up and the film now available on DVD and Blu-ray, Matt Brennan’s “Now and Then” column this week revisits Terrence Malick’s Palme d’Or-winning The Tree of Life. The Tree of Life marks director Terrence Malick’s fifth feature in the 38 years since his debut, Badlands. It’s an output that might seem thin at first glance: Woody Allen, in the same period, directed 40 (!) films, some of which (Annie Hall, Husbands and Wives) deserve to be saddled with the word “classic.” But Mailck’s genius — and, watching The Tree of Life again, I think that’s a fair word to use — can’t be seen in traditional terms. Owing more to the 1920s “cinépoems” of Man Ray, Fernand Léger, and Joris Ivens than to Hollywood narrative films, The Tree of Life, whatever failings it may have, reconfirms just how beautiful and emotionally compelling experimental filmmaking can be.
  • By Matt Brennan
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  • October 17, 2011 6:46 AM
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  • 0 Comments

And the Nobel Prize for Film Goes To...

And the Nobel Prize for Film Goes To...
Seeing that the Nobel Prize for Literature was awarded last week, to Swedish poet Tomas Tranströmer, Matt Brennan got to thinking: What if there were a Nobel Prize for Film? This week’s “Now and Then” column revels in some of the possibilities. Check out the trailers and post your own picks in the comments section below:
  • By Matt Brennan
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  • October 10, 2011 5:07 AM
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  • 1 Comment

Now and Then: The Transformation of Michael Bay to Sunday Hangover Auteur

Now and Then: The Transformation of Michael Bay to Sunday Hangover Auteur
Occasioned by the DVD release of Transformers: Dark of the Moon last week, and a few too many drinks Saturday night, Matt Brennan’s “Now and Then” column celebrates director Michael Bay, Sunday hangover auteur. Trailers below:
  • By Matt Brennan
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  • October 3, 2011 3:48 AM
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  • 3 Comments

More Than Just Funny: How Women Took Comedy by the Balls

On a weekend in which the multiplex was mainly a man’s world, Matt Brennan's "Now and Then" column this week focuses on news from the small screen. With Bridesmaids now available on DVD and a flurry of funny women hitting network TV, he got to wondering: are we in a golden age of women in comedy? Trailers below:I know. You already have seven problems with this column and all you’ve read is the teaser. So let’s slow down and lay out some of the assumptions I’m working with here: first, that women are funny, and not only to other women, despite what Christopher Hitchens might have to say on the subject; and second, that I recognize there are problems with using the term “golden age,” and will get to these near the end.
  • By Matt Brennan
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  • September 26, 2011 12:31 PM
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  • 0 Comments

Citizen Kane and Pulp Fiction, Two Overrated Classics Coming to a Blu-ray Player Near You

Citizen Kane and Pulp Fiction, Two Overrated Classics Coming to a Blu-ray Player Near You
This week in his “Now and Then” column, Matt Brennan — inspired by the re-release of Citizen Kane (Orson Welles, 1941) and the upcoming Blu-ray edition of Pulp Fiction (Quentin Tarantino, 1994) — tries to explain how a movie becomes a “classic.” Trailers below:To paraphrase the famous saying, some movies are born great, some achieve greatness, and some have greatness thrust upon them. Citizen Kane and Pulp Fiction fall into the latter category. That they’re stylish, innovative, and spectacularly well made is undeniable. But in the end, claims of their greatness say more about what critics and cinephiles think movies should be than about their intrinsic value. To put it more bluntly, they’re overrated.
  • By Matt Brennan
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  • September 19, 2011 1:45 AM
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  • 11 Comments

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