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

"Jackass" Goes Geopolitical

Vice's foray into doumentary film may make you shake your head, but you can't deny it's good television.

Vice Productions
Vice Productions HBO's new Friday-night newsmagazine, Vice —as in the uppity print-mag dudes turned YouTube stuntmasters who recently made news by sending Dennis Rodman to North Korea, not the police beat—comes on like a revved-up 60 Minutes for the tats-and-testosterone set. Trouble spots around the globe are high on the menu; either danger or the threat of it gets amped up with shameless music cues and attention-grabbing cutting. All three regular correspondents are, as may go without saying, male, with original Vice co-founder Shane Smith in the Mike Wallace Yoda slot opposite a couple of younger wiseacres: Thomas Morton, Vice 's anxiety specialist, and Ryan Duffy, the show's jaunty answer to Kid Rock. The whole thing comes to us courtesy of executive producer Bill Maher, whose contending yens to be a thoughtful guy and a hip one often remind me of a ventriloquist who hasn't caught on yet that his dummy is psychotic. All the same, any of you who still keep an Edward R. Murrow...

A Season of Swords

Game of Thrones, otherwise known as every origins story trash-compacted into the "ultimate extrapolation of Dallas," returns for its third season this Sunday.

HBO
Once again, it's that splendid time of year when we get to cast aside human decency without a backward look. Let's savor ruthless ambition, revel in permanent war, and realize we don't give two hoots about the huddled masses being ground underfoot like cigarillos for conquest's sake. Kicking off its third season on Easter Sunday, and so much for piety, HBO's Game of Thrones may be the closest that high-minded lefties will ever come to experiencing the buzz Paul Ryan feels at CPAC. Meanwhile, virtuous conservatives get to gorge guilt-free on rampant carnality and unrepentant paganism, and who says there's no such thing as common ground anymore? Try Westeros. If you can believe it, GoT has gotten even more murky and brooding this season, creating an enjoyable illusion of depth where none exists. That's even true of the latest iteration of the title sequence, which is, as ever—thanks partly to Ramin Djawadi's theme music—among the most brilliant summonses to addiction in TV history...

Always Be Monologuing

Al Pacino's endless arias are the only thing that save David Mamet's Phil Spector from being mere propaganda.

Charles Sykes/Invision/AP
"This is a work of fiction. It's not 'based on a true story.'" So goes the disclaimer preceding director and writer David Mamet's Phil Spector , which premieres Sunday on HBO, and what sense are we supposed to make of that Bizarro World claim? The movie features Al Pacino in a surprisingly convincing impersonation—or maybe I just mean a disconcertingly affecting one—of the 1960s record producer now doing time for the 2003 murder of Lana Clarkson (real name also used). Nothing already known to the public deviates from the record, including Spector's cuckoo array of wigs in the courtroom. As if Pacino's participation doesn't already lend enough heft, Helen Mirren, flagrantly miscast—but, as ever, classy, and cowing us into being predisposed in her character's favor is what she's been hired for—plays Linda Kenney Baden, one of the battery of legal eagles who represented Spector during his first trial. (It ended in a hung jury; a 2008 do-over convicted him.) The real Baden is also...

Advice for Escaping Film's Winter Doldrums

No need to despair and go watch Identity Thief when you can stay home and rent a Luis Bunuel flick.

First released in 1970, Tristana is one of the masterpieces of Spanish director Luis Bunuel's astonishing late-life creative spree after his return to Europe from exile in Mexico. Newly out on Blu-ray from Cohen Media in a handsome-looking restoration, the movie is such a bracing antidote to the slop playing in theaters that I almost broke down in grateful whimpers when the UPS guy handed it over. A week when a botch like Oz The Great And Powerful is No. 1 at the box office—and Identity Thief, which I'd hoped might be just a grotesque memory by now, is still hanging in there at No. 3—can make the likes of me feel seriously glum about how we've wasted our lives by tossing critical spitballs at Himalayas made of cheese. Along with Belle du Jour, Tristana is also one of only two movies Bunuel made with Catherine Deneuve, who's at once the unlikeliest actress ever to star in his films and uncannily perfect for them. She's Tristana, a demure 1930s waif taken after her mother's death into...

Schindler's List, 20 Years Later

How does the film, which defies routine criticism in many ways, hold up?

AP-Photo/Douglas C. Pizac
Universal has just brought out a 20th-anniversary Blu-ray edition of Steven Spielberg's Holocaust movie, Schindler's List . Don't blame whoever got stuck writing the box copy—"Experience one of the most historically significant films of all time like never before," and so on—for a certain awkwardness about how best to strike the celebratory note. The package is also notably stingy with the undignified extras that usually tempt consumers to repurchase a beloved classic, but what were you expecting, a blooper reel? That crack isn't meant to be gratuitous, believe me. Call it a reminder that Schindler's List is every bit as much a Hollywood product as Groundhog Day, which came out the same year. Unlike Groundhog Day, it's got the Academy Awards—seven of them—to prove it. In my book, nothing that wins that many Oscars can be altogether holy. However ennobled by its topic, the movie was nonetheless conceived as entertainment—of a very somber sort, to be sure—by one of the most gifted of...

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