Tom Carson

Tom Carson won two National Magazine Awards during his stint as Esquire's "Screen" columnist and has been nominated twice more as GQ's movie reviewer. Formerly a staff writer at LA Weekly and The Village Voice, he is the author of Gilligan's Wake (a New York Times Notable Book of the Year for 2003) and Daisy Buchanan's Daughter.

Recent Articles

The Great Conservative “No!”

William F. Buckley’s heirs are starving on a red-meat diet.  

(Associated Press)

In the ’80s and ’90s, the GOP basked in an atypical rep as “the party of ideas.” Thanks to the liberal project’s distinctly dilapidated charms once Jimmy Carter got done playing the concerned mortician, the rise of deep-pocketed think tanks and often sharp-witted neocon intellectuals—and, not least, Newt Gingrich’s endlessly self-fertilizing conception of himself as a brainiac—it wasn’t even undeserved. Revealingly, though, all that froufrou stayed disconnected from the party’s popular appeal. Unlike midcentury Democrats, for whom Adlai Stevenson’s intellectualism and the New Frontier’s Harvard pedigree were pluses, the Republican base never did develop much of a taste for white meat disguised as gray matter, preferring Gingrich the hyper--partisan to Gingrich the guru every time.

How Was the Trailer, Mrs. Lincoln?

A look at the trailer for Spielberg's upcoming Civil War biopic

(AP Photo/Disney-DreamWorks II, David James)

Presumably, we all know that speculating about upcoming movies with only their trailers to go by isn't a fit activity for a serious man. But that's how it works in a culture that now operates as a giant racetrack, everywhere from politics to the fall TV season; we all enjoy playing tout. Besides, I can't remember the last time I considered myself a serious man—it's all larks and pratfalls to me now, folks. That's how we grizzled types stay current.

Big Hollywood, Small Toronto

Among big-ticket Oscar contenders, the critic's heart will always be with the overlooked gem.

(Photo by Evan Agostini/Invision/AP)

Every film festival has its own customized vanity. Maybe a mite grimly, Cannes hangs on to its monopoly on glamour. It’s harder than it used to be to get big American stars to walk the red carpet—the studios no longer see much PR value in a Cannes premiere for movies they’re spending millions to open a week later stateside anyway—but the paparazzi can always make do with Johnny Hallyday in a pinch. Sundance, of course, is still the ideal place for indie filmmakers to attract notice. The New York fest gets by on whatever spurious sense of consequence is implied by its location, location, location. And these days, the Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF) touts itself as the place where the road to the Oscars begins.

In overdrive ever since future Best Picture winner Slumdog Millionaire’s North American premiere here four years ago—The Artist, The King’s Speech, and The Hurt Locker all did the same—this particular hype isn’t to everyone’s liking. It distorts the festival’s real calling card for cinephiles: its roster’s ecumenism, which is quite possibly unequalled by any competitor’s. But Hollywood predictably loves the rabbit’s-foot bit. No less predictably, the fest’s financial backers, both private and public—along with the likes of L’Oreal and Bell, both Ontario province and the Canadian government chip in with TIFF funding, and how civilized—are said to think the Oscar connection is just grand.

All Quiet on the Hurricane Front

(Rex Features via AP Images)

No question, riding out even a minor hurricane makes for an agreeably stimulating feeling of bravado, especially if it’s your first and you’re a relatively sedate gent like myself. But then again, these days, there’s an element of bravado involved in living in New Orleans at all. In my experience after going on two years down here, it’s more charming and less obnoxious than the average New Yorker’s berserk pride in urban life’s stresses. But it’s the corsair side of NOLA’s communal identity nonetheless—our Jean Lafitte mode, you could say.

Norman Mailer Aims for Auteur ... and Falls Way Short

Criterion Collection has released the famed author's not-so-famed entries into the film canon.

(AP Photo/Matty Zimmerman)

Whenever being a writer wasn’t enough to suit his churning sense of drama, Norman Mailer (1923-2007) could come up with some awfully wild-assed ways of advertising himself. They ranged from stabbing his second wife in 1960 (she lived and was dissuaded from pressing charges, and he actually got a judge to buy his argument that being labeled crazy would damage his literary reputation) to running for Mayor of New York City nine years later. But those almost seem like banal versions of Walter Mittyism gone disastrously overboard compared to Mailer’s notion that he could become a movie director—indeed, a visionary one, since why else bother if you were him?—without so much as a day’s apprenticeship.