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

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. At any rate, now that the first trailer for Steven Spielberg's Lincoln is out, moviegoers can feel reasonably sure of at least a few things we only guessed before. In approximate order of descending "What? Good God, sir, are you trying to tell me Anderson Cooper is gay ?" nonsurprise: Boy, is this sucker going to be mournful and majestic, with composer John Williams providing his usual musical oil spills when it comes to (re-) stating the obvious. This serves an admirably educational purpose, since any 11-year-old will henceforward be able...

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)
(Photo by Evan Agostini/Invision/AP) Actor Hugh Grant attends the premiere of Cloud Atlas during the Toronto International Film Festival. 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,...

All Quiet on the Hurricane Front

(Rex Features via AP Images)
(Rex Features via AP Images) Empty streets in New Orleans, Louisiana as Hurricane Isaac hits 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. That’s why Tuesday afternoon was fun. “If I hear ‘Be safe’ one more time, I’m going to scream,” one pal of ours sighed as a bunch of us sat around in one of lower Decatur Street’s scuzzier bars. Our prep done and our supplies stocked, we’d all realized we were bored witless just watching the Weather Channel and monitoring each other’s Facebook status updates...

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. Over four decades later, Criterion’s Eclipse series has brought out the eccentric results on DVD: Wild 90, Beyond The Law, and Mailer’s magna cum gaudy capper to the whole caper, Maidstone, which cured him of his movie mania by busting him financially. To varying degrees, all three of his 1960s...

Kubrick's Vietnam, 25 Years Later

Full Metal Jacket—as well as the rest of the director's canon—still fails to impress, even after a quarter-century intermission.

(AP Photo)
When the 25th anniversary Blu-ray of Stanley Kubrick’s 1987 Vietnam War movie, Full Metal Jacket, showed up in the mail last week, I knew what was going to happen. As I glowered at the lavishly packaged thing and it glowered glacially back, my inner Jiminy Critic chirped up with his usual reproach to my anti-Kubrick bias. “Practically everybody but you knows that Stanley is the greatest thing since sliced eyeballs,” he said, making that tired joke about Bunuel’s Un Chien Andalou for the gazillionth time. “You chump, did you even notice that 2001: A Space Odyssey just vaulted into sixth place in Sight and Sound’s poll of The Greatest Movies Ever Made? And you haven’t seen this one since it came out.” Feebly, I protested that once was enough. As for 2001 , I’ve seen it four or five times, just trying to figure out what everybody else is going on about. I still think it’s like watching somebody mistake solitaire for poker. “Once is not enough, if I may be so bold as to quote the famous...

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