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

Why Are So Many People Still Protective of Woody Allen?

AP Images/Chris Pizzello

They may be a big deal these days—the prelude to the Oscars, like that's something to brag about—but some of us remain secure in our knowledge that the Golden Globes are a joke. Not the judgment by one's presumably qualified peers that gives the Academy Awards their claim on validity, the Globes aren't the verdict of particularly qualified critics either; the Hollywood Foreign Press Association, which bestows them, is notoriously a pack of nonentities. All in all, the GG's might as well have been named for the late, great Anna Nicole Smith's not-found-in-nature gazongas.

Pope Francis's "Cardinal" Rules

Thinking about Otto Preminger's film 50 years later in the context of Pope Francis.

AP Photo/Alessandra Tarantino

What to make of last year's onslaught of Francismania? Like the sucker for pop-culture phenomenons I am, I haven't enjoyed anything so much since the Harry Potter books took off. As a veteran secular humanist, I can't help feeling some simpatico with the killjoys striving to remind us that the first Pope in memory to rate an affectionate New Yorker cover still presides over an essentially reactionary organization whose core doctrines haven't changed. But all the same, screw it: they're messing with everybody else's good time. Those of us without a dogma in this hunt just dig waiting for Pope Frank's next Bob Newhart-ish "He said that??" surprise, even as we relish the consternation he's provoked in everybody from Rush Limbaugh—"pure Marxism," the great man flatulated—to Home Depot founder Ken Langone, who fretted that Francis doesn't understand how good rich Americans are. Cardinal Timothy Dolan had to reassure Langone that the latest Pontiff does indeed love his flock's gazillionaires.

Peter O'Toole, Always in Character

The actor, who died earlier this week at the age of 81, turned every role into a feat of concentrated charm and wit. 

In a fantasy sequence in the 1967 movie Casino Royale—not a straight Bond flick, like the 2006 version, but a famously messy spoof—Peter Sellers, playing one of several rival 007s, sees a haggard-looking Scots bagpiper emerge from soundstage fog. "Are you Richard Burton?" the piper asks, and Sellers retorts, "No, I'm Peter O'Toole!" At which the piper—played by O'Toole himself—is overcome by emotion. "Then you're the finest man who ever breathed," he says, and vanishes into the mist.

"Spring Breakers" Was the Best Movie of the Year. Seriously.

It was imbecilic but gorgeous—just like America. 

AP Images/A24 Films

First off, some disclaimers: I haven't seen Joel and Ethan Coen's Inside Llewyn Davis yet. I thought 12 Years A Slave and Gravity were both just swell, and I had a great time at Ron Howard's unexpectedly lively—and worldly—Rush. In spite of groaning at Woody Allen's bald-faced hijacking of A Streetcar Named Desire and his Rip Van Winkle unfamiliarity with the current century, I even got semi-down with Blue Jasmine, and so on.

Sondheim Looks Back

The composer reflects on his storied Broadway career in a new HBO documentary. 

AP Images/Henny Ray Abrams

Stephen Sondheim is such an engaging and peppery talker about his own work that any run-of-the-mill documentarian—one unafflicted by genuinely terrible bad breath, anyway—could probably get gold just by turning on the camera. But Six by Sondheim, which airs on HBO on Monday, isn’t run-of-the-mill at all. Directed by the composer’s longtime stage collaborator, James Lapine, this openly celebratory doc is elaborately built around a half dozen capstone songs in Sondheim’s career, from Company’s “Being Alive” to (duh) “Send in The Clowns” to Sunday in The Park With George’s climactic ode. Several of the numbers get full-on restaging—Todd Haynes guest-directs a stone-brilliant version of Follies’ “I’m Still Here”—and the interview segments are stitched together from TV Q&A’s stretching over five decades along with Lapine’s own.

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