Thursday, August 18, 2022

Steve Martin's Last Bow

When the magicians Penn and Teller toured Australia in June, I had the privilege of catching one of their shows at the Opera House. Here were two supreme masters of their art performing at the height of their powers. Watching them work was an unmitigated treat – a chance to sit back and revel in what the great Aussie critic Robert Hughes called “the spectacle of skill.”

Penn and Teller are no longer young. Penn is 67 and Teller 74. But at no point in their show did they seem past their prime. When rock stars of that age go on tour, you can’t help wishing you’d seen them forty years ago. In Penn and Teller’s field, advanced age is irrelevant. Or rather, it’s relevant in a good way. You can’t be as technically assured as they are without having plenty of years under your belt. Making things look that effortless takes a lifetime of effort. 

Similar levels of maturity and craft are on display in Only Murders in the Building, the second series of which is currently rolling out on Disney+ ... [read more]

Tuesday, August 9, 2022

Now a Minor Motion Picture

“Now a major motion picture,” says the cover of the new edition of Where the Crawdads Sing, the Delia Owens novel that has sold 12 million copies since its publication in 2018. Has anyone ever admitted to turning a book into a minor motion picture? Or just a motion picture full stop, leaving it to the public to supply the appropriate adjective?

Anyway, what is “major” supposed to mean in these cases? Is it just another word for costly? Or is it meant to assure us that the picture in question is a substantial artistic event? Alas, the word is now out that Crawdads isn’t that kind of major movie ... [read more]