In the movies, romances fail for reasons of class, money, scandal, race, death, noble sacrifice or—more recently—fear of commitment. Shopgirl may be the first Hollywood love story in a long time to revolve around the inability to love.
Whenever Hollywood has tackled the subject of Joseph McCarthy and the work of the House Un-American Activities Committee, the results have tended to be fatuous if not downright embarrassing. George Clooney breaks through the barrier in Good Night, and Good Luck, a compelling portrayal of the last days of McCarthy’s influence.
Based on Gerald Clarke’s exhaustive biography, Bennett Miller’s Capote covers the six years that Truman Capote spent working on In Cold Blood. The film begins at a noisy New York cocktail party where Capote is the center of attention, regaling his friends with humorous anecdotes and observations.
When he wrote Oliver Twist in 1837, Charles Dickens had a cause: he was protesting the harsh and unjust treatment of children in England. His depiction of the situation was searing—more so than the best-known movie adaptations.
Great plays tend to make mediocre movies. The elements that make a play successful don’t always provide the plot and visuals that are the keys to memorable cinema. Complicating matters further is the fact that theater is, by design, dialogue-heavy. The screenwriter who plans to cram long monologues or extended dialogues into the script is doomed.
Here’s your Ash Wednesday story. A mother carries her tiny daughter With her as she gets ashed and the Girl, curious and wriggly, squirms Into the path of the priest’s thumb Just as the finger is about to arrive On the mother’s forehead, and the Ashes go right in the kid’s left eye. She starts to cry, and there’s a split Second as the priest and the mother Gawk, and then they both burst out Laughing. The kid is too little to be Offended, and the line moves along, But this stays with me; not the ashy Eye as much as the instant when all Could have been pain and awkward But instead it led to mutual giggling. We are born of dust and star-scatter And unto this we shall return, this is The Law, but meantime, by God, we Can laugh our asses off. What a gift, You know? Let us snicker while we Can, brothers and sisters. Let us use That which makes dark things quail.