- Mother Battles Daughter. Both Win. Lady Bird a film by Greta Gerwig. With Saoirse Ronan, Laurie Metcalf, Lucas Hedges, Beanie Feldstein. ****1/2
I was signed up for this movie as soon as I heard it was by Greta Gerwig. Gerwig is a fundamentally odd performer: her roles are weird, her characters offbeat; she is slightly awkward physically, though beautiful and winning. ... Read more
- Notes on a Remark by Elmore Leonard How He Gave Up Booze and Learned to Relax
“By then I was in AA and perhaps not taking myself so seriously. I do think my writing began to improve at this time, mainly because I wasn’t taking the writing so seriously, either. I learned to relax and not think of it as writing.”
One of the ... Read more
- The Coma Was a Come-on The Big Sick a film by Michael Showalter. With Kumail Nanjiani, Zoe Kazan, Holly Hunter, Ray Romano. *****
The Big Sick is so much the best movie I’ve seen this summer (I was happy just to find a movie I wanted to see), so unique as a romantic comedy, so perfect in the way it’s put ... Read more
- He Cared Too Much Stories by John O’Hara. The Library of America. 860 pp. $40.00
John O’Hara was an Irish Catholic and doctor’s son from Eastern Pennsylvania who believed—apparently for much of his life—that he would have been a happy man if he had just gone to Yale. That didn’t keep him from getting booted from three prep schools, one ... Read more
- The Wonder of Women Wonder Woman a film by Patty Jenkins. With Gal Gadot, Chris Pine, Robin Wright ***1/2
Arrival a film by Denis Villeneuve. With Amy Adams, Jeremy Renner, Forest Whitaker *****
A Quiet Passion a film by Terence Davies. With Cynthia Nixon, Jennifer Ehle, Duncan Duff ***
I’m as happy as everyone else that we finally have a movie about ... Read more
- Pip Pip Hooray! Purity by Jonathan Franzen. Picador. 598 pp. $17.00. *****
I had an odd and unique experience reading Purity. I got slightly bogged down in the book’s first section, which focuses on the title character; her name is Purity but she goes by Pip. She seemed clueless and helpless, living with a collection of strange roommates, burdened ... Read more
- Alcoholics Preposterous Colossal a film by Nacho Vigalondo. With Anne Hathaway, Jason Sudeikis, Austin Stowell. *???
There’s a mind state called suspension of disbelief, where we overlook an unlikely aspect of a work of art because it is a premise of what we’re watching. The idea that James Bond would always do the right thing at the right ... Read more
- What’s Your Name, a film by Makato Shinkai, based on his novel. With Ryunosuke Kamiki, Mone Kamishiraishi, Ryo Narita.
I’ve been reading Kobun Chino’s commentary on the Song of Awakening, and the day before I saw this film read the following passage: “When the body of all the buddhas penetrates my nature there is interpenetration and fusion. My nature ... Read more
- Old Corn-Drinking Mellifluous Absalom, Absalom! By William Faulkner. 315 pp. $15.95
I’m obsessed with the subject of telling stories. I’ve spoken before about how all stories are false, or all stories true; they are, in any case, human fabrications, which may have little to do with what actually happened. We love them nevertheless. Human beings tell each other stories, ... Read more
- Beckett in the Bardo The Unnamable from Three Novels by Samuel Beckett. Grove Press. 407 pp. $15.95.
The mystery of Samuel Beckett continues, at least for me. Some months back, when I had finally tackled his Three Novels—which had been sitting on my shelves for years—I finished the first two, but admitted publicly, in this space, that I gave up ... Read more