DAVID’S GOT A BONER
David Thomson is one of the most idiosyncratic and engaging film critics we have. Now in his early-70s, Thomson has published two dozen books and thousands of reviews. Although he lacks the acute visual sensibility and theoretical rigor of that Aristotle of film critics, Manny Farber.(1)
1. Farber embodies Deleuzeian notions about cinema – without all of that French jargon and despite the fact that I’m sure Farber didn’t know Deleuze from DeAngelo.
Thomson shares Farber‘s wit and an off-beat sensibility that focuses on visual storytelling rather than thematic message. You might not agree with him some (a lot) of the time, but so what? His top ten film list includes both termites and white elephants.
Thomson also just happens to be obsessed with Rebecca Hall ’s tits.(2)
2. In her most recent role before Parade’s End, Hall played my old friend Beth Raymer in the film version of Beth’s excellent memoir Lay the Favorite. Not even Hall’s love decoys could save the film: it’s unspeakably bad.
In his emission for the inaugural edition of the new New Republic on the five-hour made–for-TV adaptation of Ford Madox Ford’s Parade’s End, Thomson focuses on Ms. Hall’s chest. Once there, his eyes never stray again. ‘…there is an extended scene in the film where Tietjens finds Sylvia in her bath. She stands up and challenges him with the breasts that belong to Hall.’
‘The glory on screen lies in the usual places: in Hall’s breasts…’
‘…a lot of the damage needed doing, and Hall knows when to drop the dress.’
‘[Hall] has sex with him, with delight, and a high-angle camera that shows her head and her swan’s neck thrown back in ecstasy.’
Although Hall’s milk bombs don’t appear until halfway through the short review, and only play a small role in Thomson’s argument, the reviewer cannot get enough of them. I’ve never set eyes on the Rushmores myself, but apparently, to quote Sir Mick Jagger, They ‘make a dead man cum.’ (or near-dead, in the case of the octogenarian Thomson). That said, there’s more to the mammarial obsession than the wistfulness of an old man who will never wander such honeyed groves again. It’s no accident that the review arose in the inaugural edition of the New Republic’s revamped website. The venerable magazine – 99 years and counting – was recently bought by Chris Hughes, 29-year-old co-founder of a semi-successful website (3)
3. I can’t quite recall the name. Face…Face…plant? Face…off? Something like that.
you may have head about, who is buffing up the TNR for a new age, an age in which it seems even the cognoscenti require pandering and lotioned handjobs. ‘We’re holding onto the heritage of the magazine while trying to make it more responsive to what people are interested in and how they read in 2013,’ Mr. Hughes said in a recent New York Times article on the unveiling. Translation: they’re going cover pop culture and the bodies of hot (but talented) actresses, intellectuals’ Lindsay Lohan’s. (Although words of wisdom supplied to me by a skinny coloratura a quarter-century ago still hold today – ‘Intellectual’s,’ she said, ‘are leg men’).
In an exclusive Entasis expose’, we reprint the email exchanges that brought Ms. Hall’s tits to light.
Chris Hughes: Hey Dave, it’s me, Chris Hughes, your new boss. I wanted to touch base and tell you how much it means to The New Republic, and to me personally, to have such a respected figure from Old Europe on our staff.
David Thomson: Well, thank you, Mr. Hughes. That’s nice to hear.
CH: Oh, call me Chris, Dave. It’s the American way. I really dug your review of that British costume drama by the car guy. You Brits do that stuff better than anyone. All the history you have, I guess. Must be fascinating to live in the wreck of an empire.
DT: Uhm, I suppose.
CH: I love, love, the review. That line in there, ‘…nostalgia is a plague to history.’ That shit is deep, bro. Really makes you think. Although maybe you shouldn’t be so hard on Downton Abbey. Our readers love that Downton Abbey. In fact, you know, PBS is a big advertiser.
DT: I was not aware of that, Mr. Hughes.
CH: Well, keep it in mind. And by the way, it’s Chris, please. I love all that British formality shit. I’m thinking about coming over and buying a palace there. Get servants and footmen, a French maid, the whole deal. Is that palace, Buckingpig, for sale? I have my eye on it.
DT: I would find that highly unlikely.
CH: Well, check with your people and have them call me. You guys are still stuck in recession, right; the queen mother is probably on food stamps. Ha! Didn’t someone buy London Bridge a while back? Hey, do you know any of the royals? They should knight you. It would be great to have a ‘Sir’ on our masthead. Americans eat up that crap. I mean, if Mick Jagger was knighted…
DT: Well, it’s been a pleasure, but I have some work to do so if you’ll excuse me?
CH: What, is it tea time over there? I bet you can’t wait to get to your crumpets. Haw. Here’s the thing, Dave, I loved your review. Did I mention that? But it’s like this: we’re trying to build up the brand, jazz things ups, give the old cow some spunk, and your review is a little bloodless.
DT: Bloodless? I’m not quite sure what you mean.
CH: Well, I went out and watched the show. Screened a review copy in my private cinemax theater. I’ve got my own private theater. Seats 25, I get models in there, actresses, you should check it out. Afterwards, we all splash around in the jacuzzi. I’m a hands on kind of guy. And what’s the first thing I noticed? Well, Rebecca Halls rack is what. I mean, bro, that girl is put together. Maybe you could put in some business about those puppies. That sex scene? Well, I had to shut the door and pull down the blinds. You know what I’m talking about, you old dog.
DT: I’ll see what I can do, Mr. Hughes.
CH: That’s all I’m asking. We want to keep the traditions, but we want to be responsive, if you catch my drift. We’ve done the marketing surveys and demographics, and we can have the best of both worlds. You know what I’m saying? Not with a whimper but a bang!
Since the Hughes takeover a number of regular writers at TNR have been fired and the entire site has disappeared behind a paywall. For the time being, Thomson remains employed.