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David Thomson

The Piano Teacher

End of the Decade: Alien Nation

Editor’s note: The first in a series of essays looking back at the films and filmmakers of the past decade.   What happened at the movies in the 2000s? There must be thousands of ways of answering that question, and I’m not sure how many of them are cheerful. On......
Steven Bach: United artist

Leave Him to Heaven: R.I.P. Steven Bach, 1940-2009

It was late on October 25 of last year that I got my last sight of Steven Bach. We had done an onstage gig together at the Writers Institute in Albany, New York: We had shown Renoir’s Partie de Campagne, all about passing time and lost illusions, and we had......

David Thomson: Notes On Canons, Pantheons and a Century of Cinema

Choosing their top 10 is a game most film critics are accustomed to — and one that allows depressives to ask, “Are there really 10 worth keeping?” (This is a healthy doubt, more useful than the routine thumbs-up on two or three fresh masterpieces every week.) Writing about a select......
Strangers on a train: Johnson and Howard share a Brief Encounter.

David Lean at 100: The Talent Behind the Legend

This is the David Lean centenary: He was born a hundred years ago in Croydon, south London, and raised as a Quaker and the son of an accountant. That meant that as a boy, he was not allowed to go to the cinema. It wasn’t a happy childhood. Lean was......
City Lights; Credit: Courtesy of LACMA

British Invasion: A LACMA Retrospective

Courtesy of LACMA (Click to enlarge) City Lights As John Adams on TV lengthens into April, and overlaps with LACMA’s series on Brits in Hollywood — “A Sterling Legacy,” some wit has called it, as the pound devours the dollar — it’s worth noting how, in Adams, Jefferson and Franklin......
Mystery woman: Laura returns

Otto Preminger: Anatomy of a Director

Laura Hunt is dead. We see her in flashbacks, when she was a pretty girl on the make and on the rise in New York advertising. She was Gene Tierney, and she dressed better and picked up smoother manners once Waldo Lydecker (Clifton Webb) took her on as his protegee......
Utamaro and His Five Women

Master Mizoguchi

Away from the AMCs, P.F. Chang’s–fronted malls, coffee-shop chains and packs of teenybopper wolves lies a sleepy hamlet of Burbank that’s a shopper’s alternative, nay paradise, to the ever-bustling downtown. Each one of the mostly vintage and antique shops that line Magnolia Park’s quaint and quiet (so quiet you can......
Mirror

An Affair to Remember

It’s generally agreed by film critics and historians alike that Roberto Rossellini is hard to place, and harder to recommend properly. One reason for this, I think, is that — out of respect and esteem — people have been shy of admitting that Rossellini was a hustler, a chameleon and......
Love at first sight? (HBO Films)

Love and Salvation

Once upon a time, the English were quite proud of their murders. The public knew the names and the details of husbands who had poisoned their wives — domestic problems that got out of hand. George Orwell wrote an essay once about “the decline of the English murder,” as if......
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