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

A Hard Days Night and Beatlemania: The West's Last Outbreak of Optimism Disease

How much the Beatles helped create the '60s and how much the '60s helped create the Beatles is one of the great chicken-and-egg questions.

Janus Films/Criterion Collection
Janus Films/Criterion Collection A still from the 1964 Beatles film, A Hard Days Night , reissued July 2014 in a digitally remastered form. H ow did an opportunistic flick featuring Britain's fad-of-the-moment band turn into the best pop movie anyone had seen up to then? Let alone "the Citizen Kane of jukebox musicals," in critic Andrew Sarris's—and no pushover, he—oft-quoted rave at the time? It helped that the fad was Beatlemania, the director was 32-year-old Richard Lester, and the movie was A Hard Day's Night. Coinciding with the July 4 release of a digitally remastered Hard Days in U.S. theaters, the Criterion Collection has just put out a lavish 50th-anniversary joint Blu-Ray/DVD edition of the film with a whole second disc's worth of extras—multiple docs and interviews, plus Lester's Oscar-nominated 1960 short The Running, Jumping And Standing Still Film— and wow, does it ever suck. Nah, kidding. While the carousing imagination and headlong fervor of both entities involved...

HBO Movie on Prop 8 Marriage Equality Case Fails As Documentary

By omitting the faces and fears of those opposed to same-sex marriage, The Case Against 8 presents its story as nothing more than a victory lap, assuming every viewer is happy the Supreme Court decision that overturned California's ban.

The Case Against 8/HBO
The Case Against 8/HBO P remiering on Monday, HBO's The Case Against 8 is an intermittently moving bunch of essentially mindless goo. Yet that's unlikely to seem very relevant to marriage-equality supporters who want to enjoy a victory lap. Few modern American political stories are as happy-making—and, let's hope, prefatory—as the Supreme Court's 5-4 thumbs-down on California's homophobic Proposition 8 on June 26 of last year, so why not celebrate? A year after the fact, however, any documentary worth viewers' time ought to aspire to more than providing birthday candles for us to blow out. That "us" is, of course, exclusionary, something you'd hardly guess from co-directors Ben Cotner and Ryan White's simple-minded assumption that everybody tuning in will share their euphoria. Don't misunderstand my own POV, because I did and do. I just don't think it would have killed the filmmakers to grapple a bit with the heretical notion that not every supporter of Prop 8—which passed with seven...

New Film About Liberal Gadfly Gore Vidal Totally Misses the Point

Gore Vidal rejoiced in making his readers' lives more complicated by baring the power drives underneath our political pieties. The United States of Amnesia does him, and its audience, no justice.

I t's a good rule to be wary of intellectuals who simplify your life, and Noam Chomsky is the left's current star example. His fault-finding take on whatever has just hit the fan is as predictable as a Honeymooners rerun, providing his admirers—of which I'm not one, just in case you're wondering—with a default reaction to pretty much everything they might more usefully think for themselves about. By contrast, the late Gore Vidal, who died in 2012, rejoiced at his provocative peak in making his readers' lives more complicated by baring the power drives underneath our political pieties, the opportunistically avid circuitry underneath our sexual and familial ones—and, unlike Chomsky, the genuine if snobbishly customized devotion to a Platonic ideal of America underneath his own captiousness. That's why it's dismaying that the people behind the new documentary Gore Vidal: The United States of Amnesia, which opened in New York last week, don't and/or can't distinguish between the valuable...

Sinkhole In My Heart: A Love Song to the American South

Robert Dafford/RobertDaffordMurals.com
Robert Dafford/RobertDaffordMurals.com Opening panel from Robert Dafford's Wall to Wall mural for the City of Paducah. I t's nice to know that Lurleen Wallace became a lake eventually. I've always felt sorry for onetime Alabama governor George Wallace's first wife, who was dying of cancer when her term-limited hubby—yes, Mr. "Segregation now, segregation forever" his own self—got her to run in his stead, with a broad wink to the populace, in 1966. But I hadn't thought of her in years until the sign reading "Lake Lurleen State Park" popped up on Interstate 59 amid the Tuscaloosa exits. As a friend later said, there's something pre-Raphaelite about that watery destiny. Fond as I am of the statue of a windblown, prematurely spry young George H.W. Bush adorning I forget which terminal of Houston's airport, you just don't get these grace notes when you fly someplace. Credit a niece's wedding in Louisville for my first serious jaunt in some time on the great American road. On my way up from...

The Brothers Koch: Family Drama and Disdain for Democracy

AP Photo/Damian Dovarganes
AP Photo/Damian Dovarganes N ot long ago, a pal of mine asked whether I’d heard the latest scoop about Charles and David Koch, the right-wing billionaires currently overseeing capitalism’s final solution to the democracy problem. Did I know—did I know!?—their grandmother had been none other than Ilse Koch, the human-lampshade-loving wife of Buchenwald’s commandant? Cazart, as Hunter S. Thompson used to say. Overseeing final solutions just runs in the family. My friend looked distinctly chagrined when I told her it wasn’t so. Like many liberal Americans, she hates the Kochs so much that no calumny strikes her as too far-fetched. But as it happened, I was midway through Daniel Schulman’s first-rate Sons of Wichita: How the Koch Brothers Became America’s Most Powerful and Private Dynasty , and I felt reasonably sure that Schulman wasn’t saving Ilse and her apocryphal lampshades for a Harry Potter gotcha toward the end. Considering that Charles and David are worth more than $80 billion...

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