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

Watching Blue Caprice in the City that Serves as Its Stage

The movie based on the 2002 D.C. sniper spree is an odd watch in the wake of this week’s Navy Yard shooting.

AP Photo/courtesy WJZ-TV
AP Photo/Rob Carr F or people who were living in the D.C. area during the Beltway sniper spree of October 2002, the big dislocation of Blue Caprice— Alexandre Moors's new movie about the killers, John Allen Muhammad and Lee Malvo, played here by Isaiah Washington and Tequan Richmond—is that we aren't in it. The surreally spooked atmosphere, the skittish way we'd scan the horizon on public errands, The Washington Post 's film reviewer Stephen Hunter venting his gun fetish in the guise of providing useful information … nope, none of that is on-screen. Not that it matters much, since few Washington moviegoers are likely to want to revisit the episode the same week that the Navy Yard massacre topped Muhammad and Malvo's death toll in a single morning. It's a basic rule of movie criticism that you don't scold a director by describing the movie he or she should have made. In this case, however, the subject matter is literally too close to home; I can't help it that I was living in Arlington...

The Known Known of "The Unknown Known"? Rumsfeld Has No Regrets

AP Photo/Wally Santana
AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais T he best news at this year’s Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF for short) is that Brit director Steve McQueen’s much anticipated 12 Years A Slave— starring Chiwetel Ejiofor as Solomon Northup, a free man of color who was kidnapped and sold into bondage in the Deep South in 1841—is as extraordinary as everybody says it is. Aside from Alfonso Cuaron’s Gravity, a very different sort of cinematic coup, no other movie I’ve seen here can touch it, and I’m pretty sure no other movie on the subject of slavery can either. If you couldn’t stand Django Unchained, McQueen’s far more ruthless and perceptive dismantling of the Peculiar Institution’s social and sexual pathologies opens stateside next month. Then again, what with TIFF’s usual salad bar of touted, untouted, and never-to-be-heard-of-again offerings no doubt I’ve missed a lot, and not always by choice, considering that a rare technical snafu—TIFF is usually sterling—turned the mobbed press...

Middle-Aged White Males: No Longer the Ones Who Knock

As we bid Breaking Bad adieu, a few words about the antiheroes who reigned over the past decade—and are finally going gently into the good night.

AP Photo/Doug Hyun, AMC, FILE
AP Photo/AMC, Michael Yarish A s AMC's superlative-burdened Breaking Bad inches toward its September 29 finale—and honestly, would it kill series creator Vince Gilligan to include even one fast-paced scene to vary the endgame?—viewers are bidding adieu to more than just one show. With only Mad Men' s valedictory season still ahead, the whole cycle of morally murky cable dramas that transformed TV from cultural fast food to gourmet fare for the discerning many is winding down as well. Whatever comes next—more Game of Thrones wannabes? Black Is The New Orange Is The New Black ?—odds are we'll never gaze on such an untrammeled eruption of self-conscious artistry again. I sometimes think that's just as well. Everybody's discovery that TV can be, y'know, art has had its downsides, from the reification of status-conscious boutique audiences Balkanizing the world's most democratic medium to the devaluation of every series predating The Sopranos. I don't envy any TV scholar trying to inform...

Alec Guinness Gets a Makeover

The classic 1980s John le Carré miniseries Smiley's People is getting the Blu-ray treatment.

Sipa via AP Images
Rex Features via AP Images O ne of the signature TV events of the 1980s comes out on Blu-ray this month. With Alec Guinness reprising his role as weary espionage panjandrum George Smiley, Smiley's People was the 1982 follow-up to the 1979 adaptation of John le Carré's Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy— itself a television landmark, meaning the sequel had to live up to expectations of a type previously unknown in TV land. Remember, this was the Stone Age. Educated folk weren't supposed to take TV seriously. From The Six Wives of Henry VIII to the original Forsyte Saga, the rare exceptions boasted reassuringly prestigious non-television pedigrees. Even I, Claudius— the Game of Thrones of its day—had the double-barreled cachet of ancient Rome and author Robert Graves to help the culturati rationalize tuning in for Peytonus Place . Because le Carré wasn't yet in that league and Cold War spy thrillers were still vaguely disreputable, Tinker, Tailor and then Smiley's People had no such insurance...

Not That Exciting

Pedro Almodovar's latest film, I'm So Excited! is less than thrilling but doesn't spell the end of the famed Spanish director. 

AP Images/Paola Ardizzoni/Emilio Pereda
AP Images/Paola Ardizzoni/Emilio Pereda I'm So Excited! might have made a good 15-minute sequence in one of Pedro Almodovar's bubbly movies of the '80s and early '90s, when he was more or less single-handedly putting Spanish cinema on the international map after the country's pivot from Francisco Franco's sclerotic reign to giddy (those were the days) democracy. Stretched out to feature length, the premise wears thin fast, not least because the execution is a tuckered-out facsimile of the director's youthful zest. I don't take any joy in confessing it, but it's the first time I've ever caught myself dozing off at an Almodovar film. Back in the cushy days when I used to catch his latest at Cannes, he was always a great cure for jet lag. Either that or Holding Pattern would be a better title for his latest than the one adopted by his English-language distributors. (The Spanish title is Los Amantes Pasajeros .) When fictional Peninsula Airlines' Flight 2549 to Mexico City develops a...

Pages