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

Ricky Bobby Goes to Washington

Don't watch The Campaign with expectations of high sophistication and deft explanation of political issues.

(KC PHOTO/Warner Bros./PictureGroup)
Anyone expecting sophistication from Will Ferrell and Zach Galifianakis’s sloppy-but-enjoyable new political comedy, The Campaign , has plainly led a life crammed with one furious disappointment after another. I can’t believe it’s much of a spoiler to tell you that America wins and politics loses, the contradiction in terms that the big public has feasted on since time immemorial. Movies like this one always let the audience revel in a more or less infantile cynicism about the democratic process by omitting issues, genuinely stubborn ideological divides, the reality of partisanship and the rest of the stuff that gives elections a point. Then a magic finale transforms the Statue of Liberty into a Tinkerbell worth clapping for just the same. Scooting into the wings in befuddled dismay, the whole squalid system turns irrelevant once some plucky fellow stands up for what’s right—usually, a generic and nonpartisan integrity that sweeps away bad faith and guile...

The Long Arc of Gore Vidal

The prolific man of letters spent the last decades of his life tarnishing his own reputation—but what a reputation it was.

(AP Photo)
With typical cheek, Gore Vidal, who died yesterday, once reviewed a book about himself by a young academic named Ray Lewis White. This was in 1968, when “in many quarters,” reviewer-Vidal explained, author-Vidal was “still regarded with profound suspicion,” making White’s study a bit of an outlier. Expressing gratitude for what he deemed “a most interesting book” wouldn’t have suited Vidal’s act, to put it mildly. But he came close in his summing-up: “[I]n the declining kingdom of literature,” he wrote, “Mr. White has staked out with some nicety the wild marches of a border lord.” Some marches; some border. (I can already imagine Vidal’s ghost complaining: “What about ‘some lord’?”) It’s hard to think of another American writer who conducted so many campaigns on multiple fronts with such aplomb: superb essayist, undauntable political polemicist and TV jouster, unexpectedly...

The Incongruous Olympics

Will the Olympics be a break from Europe and England's problems, or make them more vivid?

(Photo courtesy of
Try as I might—which is, OK, not very hard—I'm having a tough time getting jazzed for the Olympics this year. I get the feeling I'm not the only one. The locals are reportedly grumpy already about the mobs of untrained tourists futzing up London commuters' very own Olympic event, which is predictable enough. But then Mitt Romney got into the act. Giving us a preview of his smooth idea of international diplomacy—I guess he has been talking to John Bolton—he wondered on his arrival in town whether the Brits really had it in them to properly "celebrate" the games. Being accused of not knowing how to party by Mitt Romney has to sting. A man who now has a brand-new reason to root for Obama, David Cameron frostily guaranteed that Britain would "deliver," not exactly the most rambunctious of verbs. Even so, I wondered whether, for once in his life, Mitt had a point. Starting with the games' Bizarro World mascots—Wenlock and Mandeville, a pair of one-eyed Pixar...

A Dark Knight for Romney?

Don't believe Limbaugh—the most recent Batman movie is an epic for the 1%

(Courtesy of
Stop me if you've heard this news flash once or twice before, but Rush Limbaugh got it gloriously wrong. On Tuesday, the Porcine One took to the airwaves to froth about the coincidence—no, wait, there's no such thing in Limbaugh-land—that the villain of The Dark Knight Rises is named Bane, a homophone for "Bain." Plainly, this was a case of Romney-bashing propaganda by a Hollywood nefariously in league with the White House. "You may think it's ridiculous," Rush said stoutly, locking a barn door through which whole herds of ponies have fled over the years. "I'm just telling you this is the kind of stuff the Obama campaign is lining up. The kind of people who would draw this comparison are the kind of people they are campaigning to." Even by his standards, this was gaga enough that Limbaugh was in full-on fudging mode by Wednesday. "I didn't say there was a conspiracy theory," he said. "I said the Democrats are going to use it." But if they try—and at least one Dem...

Europe on Five Characters a Day

Woody Allen's latest travelogue is sprightlier than you'd expect.

Starting with its generic title, predictably eclectic cast, and cornball opening tune ("Volare," for Pete's sake), To Rome With Love looks like it's going to be another of Woody Allen's paint-by-numbers late-life divertissements. Those picture-postcard settings? In the bag. Not to mention that loose ensemble of coatrack characters—which bauble of your genius will you hang on me, Woody?—among whom he can parcel out his latest idle thoughts on art, love, and fate while indulging his septuagenarian fascination with the mating habits of comely young people. And you know what? To a large extent, that's exactly what the movie is. Only it's sprightlier and more inventive than you'd expect. At any rate, Allen does seem to be in an unusually genial if not downright perky frame of mind. He gives whimsy its due without either nudging us to remember he's too good for it or reminding us of how bad he can be when he's doing it on automatic pilot. It's a boon that the story's four...