Saturday, May 14, 2011

Thomson's Triumph

Writing in The Atlantic, Clive James on David Thomson's The New Biographical Dictionary of Film. An excerpt:

Bursting, or having already burst. Some people thought he had strayed into weirdo territory when he wrote a book about Nicole Kidman that was distinguishable from a mash note only in being less temperate, but most of us realized that he had merely been carried away. It’s one of the nice things about him, unless you sincerely believe that to notice the beauty of a female film actor (let me just say actress and see whether somebody calls the cops) should be an indictable offense. Carrying you away is what the movies have always tried to do, and putting a well-favored young lady on the screen has always been one of the main means of transport. Other means of transport are the look of the thing, the appeal of the theme, the logic of the action, the tautness of the story, and the authority of the male face at the center of the frame. Thomson responds to all those things too. Male stars are not deprived of his appreciation merely because their good looks, however potent, are not of the kind that drive him to lyrically expressed desire. Directors, producers, cinematographers, even the occasional writer: Thomson loves them all, as long as they are good at what they do.

[HT: Arts & Letters Daily]

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