Walking the Red Carpet: When Stars Were Stars

When I was young, the Academy Awards still retained an unmistakeable aura of glamor and remove. There in one big room for one long evening, we all watched American royalty – the truly big names. The real stars. Cary Grant. Katherine Hepburn. Jimmy Stewart. John Wayne. Bette Davis. Lauren Bacall. Henry Fonda. Burt Lancaster. Bing …

Bob Dylan: Spinnin’ Those Cool Records

The voice seems familiar, but the venue’s different. I’m driving down the highway, and there’s a guy on the radio talking about a record he’s about to play. I’m not sure what station’s on, but that voice…the emphasis on the last syllable of each sentence. The late-middle age growl. The cynical humor, a sardonic grin …

Our Little Month-Old

Just a month ago, newcritics hit the feed-stream as an experiment: could a few bloggers come together to write about culture without killing each other. The answer, a month in, is a Beatle-like yeah. Not the bouncy 1963 “yeah!” but more a 1969-style, slouching “yeah…” Followed by “man.” Which is perfect really, because this is …

The Fabulous Iggy Pop

Watching Anthony Kiedis sleepwalk through the motions while the rest of the Red Hot Chili Peppers delivered a technically brilliant and emotionally spirited set last week in Tampa, the mind of this 44-year-old rock fan turned to an elder of the genre. There were times when the lead Chili (also 44) acted like Iggy Pop, …

Setlist for Tonight

So much to read, so little time. Welcome to the occasional newcritics linkfest (or blog-whoring as the estimable Shakespeare’s Sister would call it). It’s three-dot time, friends. Jim Wolcott pans Woody Allen’s Scoop (“There’s a lot that doesn’t seem to have reached Mr. Magoo.”), a flick that was panned here by Lance Mannion, who gives …

The Sorkin Spectacle

Lance Mannion, who graces newcritics with his presence, runs one of those wonderfully just-because online events that attracts the right crowd: I refer to his weekly live-blogging fest of Aaron Sorkin’s much-maligned Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip. Lance’s commentpalooza has been on hiatus with the show, but it returns to tonight and we urge …

Swedish Cop, Timeless Murder

There’s a distinct darkness on the edge of the old towns along the coast of southern Sweden in the dangerous world created by Henning Mankell and inhabited by his brilliant and reluctant police inspector Kurt Wallander. I’ve ploughed through nearly all of the ten or so Wallander books in translation over the past few months, …

Executioner’s Songs

Televised executions are all the rage these days, but the long drops in Iraq brought to mind two made-for-television movies that I saw decades ago, but remain fairly vivid for their imagery and their unshaking lens. They were seen as anti-death penalty arguments on the small screen, but as I remember, both The Execution of …

Portraying Dr. King

Much critical ink has been spilled, and deservedly so, on the merits of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. as a writer. King was a master of the language, and indeed his use of the written and spoken word created the center of his power as a leader, and preserved his image as an icon. [I …