The ability on a camera-laden set to inhabit a character without a twitch of distraction or preoccupation or visible hint of the internally or externally irrelevant is a scary but brilliant feat.
Ordinary people cannot do it. But I have seen great actors do it even at cocktail receptions full of cell phones. In a world where major writers have announced that they cannot focus on their work without extracting or blocking the modems in their laptops, this kind of thespian concentration is worth noting. (One thinks of the writer Anne Lamott’s remark on her own maturing undistractibility: “I used to not be able to work if there were dishes in the sink,” she has said. “Then I had a child and now I can work if there is a corpse in the sink.”)
The postapocalyptic scenario—the future in which everyone’s a corpse (except you)—must be, at this point, one of the most thoroughly imagined fictions of the age.
In his Autobiography, Williams makes clear that part of what inspired him to become a writer was anger: “To write, like Shakespeare! and besides I wanted to tell people, to tell ‘em off, plenty. There would be a bitter pleasure in that, bitter because I instinctively knew no one much would listen.”
Buster Keaton is my jam. Quoting James Agee:
Perhaps because “dry” comedy is so much more rare and odd than “dry” wit, there are people who never much cared for Keaton. Those who do cannot care mildly.
Imagine Marilyn Monroe, the star commonly thought to be an airhead, keeping up with Somerset Maugham’s birthday and taking the trouble to send him a telegram.
Although I can’t vouch for anything beyond the second season, Mendelsohn’s critique seems fair. (via)
Worst of all—in a drama with aspirations to treating social and historical “issues”—the show is melodramatic rather than dramatic. By this I mean that it proceeds, for the most part, like a soap opera, serially (and often unbelievably) generating, and then resolving, successive personal crises (adulteries, abortions, premarital pregnancies, interracial affairs, alcoholism and drug addiction, etc.), rather than exploring, by means of believable conflicts between personality and situation, the contemporary social and cultural phenomena it regards with such fascination: sexism, misogyny, social hypocrisy, racism, the counterculture, and so forth.
A few years ago, I read a collection of Mendelsohn’s criticism, most of it anyway, and found it quite enjoyable.