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Thompson on Hollywood

Film in the Decade Since 9/11: From Superheroes to Westerns, What Came After

Film in the Decade Since 9/11: From Superheroes to Westerns, What Came After
This week's “Now and Then” column started out comparing and contrasting two movies about assassins — Hanna (Joe Wright, 2011) and Léon: the Professional (Luc Besson, 1994)—and ended up ruminating on 9/11. Trailers below:Life and culture are too messy to be divided into easy categories like “Before” and “After,” but for all the continuities in the way films are made and viewed, a long view of the last decade reveals some important, if subtle, shifts. Watching the network news coverage of September 11 to prepare for this column, I was reminded of how much we didn’t know that day, how much our fear stemmed from no longer being able to control the course of events.
  • By Matt Brennan
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  • September 12, 2011 11:36 AM
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Why The Help Is the Most Successful Movie in America

Why The Help Is the Most Successful Movie in America
For this week's “Now and Then” column, Matt Brennan veered from his planned course.I had originally planned on writing about two brilliantly constructed, unnerving examples of the “new Romanian Cinema” — 4 Months, 3 Weeks, and 2 Days and Police, Adjective, both of which I recommend. But last night, tired of waiting for Tropical Storm Lee to pass, I finally ventured out with a friend to see The Help (trailer below).
  • By Matt Brennan
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  • September 5, 2011 6:22 AM
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  • 4 Comments

Even Athletes Get the Blues: in Stellar Win Win and Hoop Dreams, Sports Aren't Just About Victory

Even Athletes Get the Blues: in Stellar Win Win and Hoop Dreams, Sports Aren't Just About Victory
This week in "Now and Then," Matt Brennan writes about two sports movies — Win Win, now on DVD, and Hoop Dreams , the classic documentary from 1994 — that are about a lot more than sports. Watch the trailers below: In the weird and wonderful films of writer/director Tom McCarthy (The Station Agent, The Visitor), everyone’s running from something. With a homey, lived-in style and a strong command of performance, his three films behind the camera capture the particular anxiety of suburban life. And though he’s never lost his sense of humor, McCarthy’s progression from oddball character study to fully conceived narrative depicts real people and real worries. Win Win only amplifies the trend: without quite meaning to, McCarthy has emerged as a master of middle-American quiet.
  • By Matt Brennan
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  • August 29, 2011 2:28 AM
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Crazy, Creepy Love: Romance is Dangerous in Rebecca, Jane Eyre

Crazy, Creepy Love: Romance is Dangerous in Rebecca, Jane Eyre
In this week's “Now and Then" column, Matt Brennan looks at two adaptations of Gothic novels: Hitchcock’s Rebecca (1940) and Cary Fukunaga’s Jane Eyre (out on DVD), see trailers below. A pair of young women, the rough men who love them, the creepy manors they live in, and the eerie forces attempting to thwart them: it’s enough to make you wish you had a fainting couch.
  • By Matt Brennan
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  • August 22, 2011 4:10 AM
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Bogart: Unconventional Star, Sex Symbol in TCM's Summer Under the Stars Retrospective

Bogart: Unconventional Star, Sex Symbol in TCM's Summer Under the Stars Retrospective
Matt Brennan takes a different tack in his “Now and Then” column this week, reviewing not two movies but one star. It just so happens that Turner Classic Movies did the work of combining current and classic for him. On Wednesday, the network’s essential series “Summer Under the Stars” gives us 24 hours of Humphrey Bogart. Swoon. Trailer and clip below: They say sex sells, but it never flew off the shelves quite like it did in the heyday of the studio system. Back then a guy didn’t need a six-pack to get us melting, though it didn’t hurt — just try to resist the swaggering muscularity of Brando, busting out of that white T-shirt in A Streetcar Named Desire (1951). What the stars had then was energy, suavity, glamour. Clark Gable drove us mad with the glint in his eye. Errol Flynn swashbuckled his way into our hearts, while Cary Grant smooth-talked his way into our dreams.
  • By Matt Brennan
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  • August 15, 2011 2:00 AM
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  • 0 Comments

TV's Emmy-Nominated The Killing Borrows Heavily from Fincher's Seven

TV's Emmy-Nominated The Killing Borrows Heavily from Fincher's Seven
This week in “Now and Then,” columnist Matt Brennan cracks The Case of the Two Murder Mysteries: AMC’s Emmy-nominated The Killing, now showing an encore of its first season Sunday nights at midnight, and critical darling David Fincher’s breakout thriller from 1995, Seven.
  • By Matthew Brennan
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  • August 8, 2011 2:26 AM
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  • 2 Comments

Women with Guns: Thelma & Louise On Its 20th Anniversary vs. Hit TNT Series Rizzoli & Isles

Women with Guns: Thelma & Louise On Its 20th Anniversary vs. Hit TNT Series Rizzoli & Isles
In honor of the 20th anniversary of Thelma & Louise, Matthew Brennan's latest “Now and Then” compares and contrasts Ridley Scott and Callie Khouri's groundbreaking road trip and TNT's police procedural/buddy series Rizzoli & Isles. Louise (Susan Sarandon) pulls no punches, but she’s fastidious, too. She pins her hair back tight and tugs her jacket on as snugly as she can; her kitchen is spotless enough to be a makeshift hospital room. Thelma (Geena Davis), on the other hand, is slovenly, loud. She skitters around in a floral housedress, surrounded by so many coupons, newspaper clippings, telephone bills, and other ephemera you’d be hard pressed to tell kitchen from master bedroom. She’s also charmingly nonchalant, dropping a silver gun in her purse like an extra shade of lipstick. In Thelma & Louise , a real pistol crack of a feminist caper, the gun’s the thing.
  • By Matthew Brennan
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  • August 1, 2011 6:12 AM
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Two Documentaries Get Personal: The Kids Grow Up vs. Sherman’s March

Two Documentaries Get Personal:  The Kids Grow Up vs. Sherman’s March
Sometimes it’s personal, writes Matt Brennan in this week’s “Now and Then” column on the two documentaries The Kids Grow Up and Sherman’s March (trailers below):One is inherently subjective, a collation of interviews, impressions, laughter and tears. The other is only ostensibly objective, a historical artifact turned private heirloom. Both, however, are sure on one thing: there really is no place like home video.
  • By Matthew Brennan
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  • July 25, 2011 2:13 AM
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  • 1 Comment

Destroying Los Angeles: From Blade Runner to Battle: Los Angeles and the Carmageddon that Wasn't

Destroying Los Angeles: From Blade Runner to Battle: Los Angeles and the Carmageddon that Wasn't
In the annals of film, no place has endured as many disasters as the City of Angels. It’s been the site of 10.5 magnitude quakes, lava spewing from the La Brea tar pits, and the incineration of the Earth’s crust. So, in honor of the Carmageddon that wasn’t, this week’s edition of “Now and Then” attempts to quench your unsatisfied thirst for the destruction of Los Angeles. Nothing quite says “sunny Southern California” like the alien invasion of Battle: Los Angeles or the gutterpunk paralysis of Blade Runner — two films in which the city fares distinctly worse than it did with the closing of the 405.
  • By Matt Brennan
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  • July 18, 2011 8:24 AM
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Current Vigilante Movie vs. Classic: Hauer as Hobo with a Shotgun vs. Eastwood as Dirty Harry

Current Vigilante Movie vs. Classic: Hauer as Hobo with a Shotgun vs. Eastwood as Dirty Harry
New to TOH this week, review column “Now and Then” takes on the current and the classic. Critic Matthew Brennan pairs reviews of movies newly available to homebodies — through Netflix, DVD, Amazon Video or good old-fashioned television — with a fresh look at the neglected, the forgotten, the classic, or the infamous. Two movies, a thousand words, and a little advice about what to watch (or not). And you don’t even have to leave the couch. (Trailers are below.)We lead off this week with Dirty Harry, textbook of Vigilantism 101 and Holy Grail of imitators for four decades. Your chaser, Hobo with a Shotgun, is part of that long line: the artillery may be heavier and the language coarser, but it’s a clear graduate of the Clint Eastwood School of Policecraft and Weaponry. It doesn’t go down as easy as promised — sort of like the night’s fifth tequila shot — but hopefully this inaugural column will. I guess the question you need to ask yourself is, “Do I feel lucky?” Well do ya, punk?
  • By Matthew Brennan
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  • July 11, 2011 7:44 AM
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  • 2 Comments

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