Syria’s War on Screen: An Exchange
Idrees Ahmad: He uses cynicism as a scythe to effect a moral leveling, declaring the regime no worse than its opponents. Robert Worth: To recognize facts is not to practice “false equivalence.” And to deny that this is a civil war is to trade Syria’s complex reality for a partisan caricature.
February 17, 2020
When Movies Kept Us Awake at Night
A number of years ago I bought *Halliwell’s Film Guide* to inform myself about old movies shown on TV and available in video stores. Occasionally, however, when I found it lying around, I’d open the Guide at random and start reading, usually attracted by the name of the film, something irresistible like *Calling Doctor Death*, *Isle of Forgotten Sins*, *Naked Alibi*, or *Prudence and the Pill*, about a girl who “borrows her mother’s contraceptives pills and replaces them with aspirin, causing no end of complication.” One day it dawned on me that out of the twelve to fifteen movies listed on every page of the Guide, there was at least one I had seen and more often several. Like millions of others who grew up in 1940s, I had spent a good part of my life seeing hundreds and hundreds of movies, everything from genuine masterpieces of the cinema to worthless trash.
January 18, 2012
Among the impenetrable mysteries of modern life is how Meryl Streep can be universally regarded as the greatest dramatic film actress of our time. In my opinion, Streep is easily at her best as a comedienne, not in the high-serious roles she has favored. Now we have the 62-year-old Streep in what many critics deem the crowning achievement of her storied 35-year Hollywood career, as Margaret Thatcher in the starring role of Phyllida Lloyd’s *The Iron Lady*. But when I watched this strange tour de force of Important Acting, I was uncertain whether I was witnessing a tragedy or a farce.
January 12, 2012