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.
Along the Beaver Creek, lobelia clings to the soil, foiling its every effort to sneak into the stream, which riffles over rocks below, aerating the water that fuels the wetland where a dragonfly squints its blue, bulbous eyes, spying mosquitoes mating, then steers its body to reach their next move. Do you dare, while traipsing this trail and glancing milkweed blossoms, to covet anything your neighbor may have?
Six months later, and a mile away, on a lime-dusted field, a singular tree, its leaves shorn and humming in wind somewhere south, waits. Winter will bear a crop of snow, which will deepen with the season and wrap around the stoic oak. No one will amble by for months. Driving by, will you sing your praise purely from the road’s safe distance?
In between, where there is so much time, when inspiration won’t spread its wings and raise its crimson head,
when nothing but mud dominates the wetland, when tarnished tin is the only color the sky can muster,
what then? Will you savor the age-old scent of the now-and-not-yet, sense its tension in the toppled tree, damp and fungus festooned,