Charles Taylor

Charles Taylor is a columnist for The (Newark) Star-Ledger. His writing has also appeared in The New York Times, Newsday, The New Yorker, the Los Angeles Times, and other publications.

Recent Articles

Hollywood Reclaimed

The title of Gayle Pemberton's essay "Do He Have Your Number, Mr. Jeffrey?" comes from an offscreen line in Alfred Hitchcock's Rear Window . The speaker was a babysitter, but the character's infantile drawl -- the old stereotype of black people as dawdling, servile simpletons -- makes her sound as if she could use a babysitter herself. The 1991 essay is, among other things, about what it means to be a black fan of classic Hollywood movies. Pemberton isn't a breathless, gushing movie buff. Hers is a canny love, beneath which lies the needling reminder of a history that stereotyped and demeaned black characters more often than it treated them straight, and that mostly just plain ignored black performers. That's the history Bryan Barber's extraordinary musical, Idlewild , sets out to rewrite. Starring André "André 3000" Benjamin and Antwan "Big Boi" Patton (who make up the hip-hop duo OutKast), the picture, set in Depression-era Georgia, pulls as much classic American movie...

Dirty Harry Goes P.C.

Among film critics, there seems to be a longing for a filmmaker who can assume the mantle of American master. And for many of them, Clint Eastwood is just the man. Choosing Eastwood's Letters From Iwo Jima as the best movie of 2006, The New York Times ' A.O. Scott wrote that with the death of Robert Altman, Eastwood became the greatest living American filmmaker. That's a depressing prospect: It's as if, with Altman's maverick crapshoot approach to filmmaking out of the way, American movies can return to the static genre familiarity that his films made look unutterably square. Eastwood's films -- in which well-worn genre conventions are rendered with the slow, heavy solemnity that is often taken as a signal that art is being committed -- offer the comfort of seeing B-movie tropes become respectable objects of critical contemplation. For all the talk of Eastwood's originality, nearly everything he has gotten credit for as a director has been done before, and done better, by other...