David Ansen

Stories by David Ansen

  • A Lost Generation: The AIDS Crisis

    A Lost Generation

    AIDS silenced the arts. Newsweek’s film critic recalls the toughest story of his career.
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    Does ‘Cloud Atlas’ Soar?

    A megawatt cast attempts to bring the grand scheme of David Mitchell's complex novel to life. Reviewed by film critic David Ansen.
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    Oscar's Private Parts

    Michael Fassbender's penis makes everyone laugh. Viola Davis is terrified of Meryl Streep. Read all the hilarious moments from Newsweek's Oscar roundtable.
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    He’s Baaaaack!

    Steven Spielberg gives us a crowd pleaser in ‘The Adventures of Tintin’ and a tear-jerker with ‘War Horse.’ Is it too much for one man?
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    The Ultimate Movie Guide

    'Tis the season for spy thrillers, hidden gems, and a Jodie Foster meltdown. Sift through the theater with a critic's eye.
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    Joel and Ethan Coen on 'True Grit'

    "Raising Arizona," "Fargo," and "No Country for Old Men" defy categorization—except as Coen brothers movies. So what happens when the quirky duo from Minnesota decide to remake a John Wayne Western?
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    The Best Movies of 2010

    This year will not be remembered as a vintage one for movies, but it was better than most people will ever know. Unless you were in the privileged position to see movies at film festivals around the world, you’d have no idea how many good movies never see the light of day in U.S. theaters. Here are 10 superior 2010 films.
  • Movies: Mark Wahlberg in 'The Fighter'

    It’s easy to say, when it’s over, that 'The Fighter' falls into a familiar rousing-sports-movie formula. But if you are blissfully ignorant of the true story, you likely won’t know which way this psychologically complex family saga is heading.
  • Movies: Nicole Kidman in 'Rabbit Hole'

    'Rabbit Hole' asks fundamental questions: how do you go on living in the face of irreparable loss? How do you patch together a relationship that has been sundered by grief?
  • Movies: Sofia Coppola's 'Somewhere'

    Coppola, a sharp observer of the small absurdities of show business, has earned the right to make movies exactly the way she wants. 'Somewhere' is her most minimal and Europeanized film yet.
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    The Stuttering King

    In a business notoriously obsessed with youth, where it’s not uncommon for screenwriters to lie about their age to win a job, David Seidler is a stunning anomaly. At 73, he finds himself, for the first time in his career, a hot property. “I’m very happy now, in retrospect, that this kind of success didn’t happen to me early on. It can really bend your head. I would have become very pompous.”
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    'Hereafter': Clint Eastwood's Look at the Afterlife

    Clint Eastwood flirted with the supernatural in his allegorical Western "Pale Rider," but nothing in his career prepares us for his haunting and haunted "Hereafter," a bold, strange, problematic investigation into the nature of the afterlife.
  • Movie Review: 'The Lovely Bones'

    If anybody could bring The Lovely Bones to the screen, Peter Jackson would seem a perfect fit. The director of the worldly Heavenly Creatures (teenage girls, murder) and the otherworldly Lord of the Rings certainly has a vision broad enough to encompass both heaven and earth, which is where Alice Sebold's hugely popular novel takes place. Earth—specifically, a suburban American town in 1973—is where 14-year-old Susie Salmon (Saoirse Ronan) is murdered at the start of the tale. Heaven—or an in-between station—is where she resides as the story's narrator, able to see, but not be seen by, her family, friends, and killer. (Article continued below…)Jackson has found the perfect Susie in Ronan, who dazzled as the deceitful English girl Briony in Atonement. She's no less extraordinary as an American high-schooler brimming with life and expectation when she is killed by a mild-mannered neighbor, Mr. Harvey (an almost unrecognizable Stanley Tucci). With her pale blue eyes and quicksilver...
  • The Death of Shock Cinema

    What's a film festival without a scandal? When Lars von Trier's Antichristdebuted at the Cannes film festival it prompted boos, cheers, derisive laughter, and angry complaints that the Danish provocateur (Dancer in the Dark, Dogville) had really gone too far this time. Von Trier, mixing horror-movie conventions with art-film angst, assaulted the audience with hard-to-watch depictions of genital mutilation, bloody orgasms, and a heroine cutting off her clitoris with scissors. (Article continued below...) ...
  • 'The September Issue' Is Serious About Fluff

    It's Friday night, and you feel like avoiding the usual Hollywood fare and taking in a documentary. Which would you rather see: a film about the disastrous consequences of climate change, which foresees humanity's extinction in 2055, or a behind-the-scenes movie about Vogue magazine featuring fly-on-the-wall glimpses of the legendary editor and fashion queen Anna Wintour as she assembles her blockbuster September issue?A loaded question, to be sure. The first film, called The Age of Stupid, is an impassioned, rather hectoring screed that mixes science fiction and documentary with the noble intention of saving the planet. R. J. Cutler's The September Issue, shot before the economic crisis slashed Vogue's advertising pages, offers a few insights into the worlds of publishing, celebrity, and high fashion, but its appeal is clearly more voyeuristic than analytic: audiences will come hoping for a vérité version of The Devil Wears Prada. No one would describe Wintour as warm, but her...
  • Return to Woodstock. Again.

    One of the most recycled sayings about the '60s—"If you remember them, you probably weren't there"—is also one of the dumbest. We get the joke: we were all too blitzed on chemicals and weed to have anything but the most foggy recollection. The truth is, for the generation that came of age in those -consciousness-stretching days, those memories are probably the most vivid of a lifetime. It's everything after that we can't always remember. Nineteen sixty-nine? Clear as a bell. Nineteen ninety-nine? Kind of a blur. ...
  • Bruno: A Fashion 'Don't' of a Movie

    'Borat' turned guerrilla comedy into a sharp, political weapon. 'Brüno' is funny enough, but its satire is entirely too overdressed for success.
  • The Return of the New York Neurotic

    A Woody Allen movie starring Larry David is, in theory, a perfect storm of urban neurosis. "I'm not a likable guy," announces David's character, Boris Yellnikoff, at the start of Whatever Works. David, the star and creator of Curb Your Enthusiasm, has always been a more aggressive neurotic than the kvetcher Allen, whose characters tend to mask their misanthropy with halting self-denigration. Playing "himself" on HBO, David is a beehive of irritability, lashing out at a world that always contrives to reward his contempt with humiliation. In Allen's movie, as a suicidal former physics professor convinced that he's a genius and that the world is spinning out of control, his misanthropy is even more ferocious. But the funny thing is, his venom leaves no sting. Though Boris tells the audience "this isn't a feel-good movie," this likable but paper-thin Allen effort is precisely that, an urban fairy tale with a happy ending that's anything but hard-won. (Story continued below...)Has the...
  • David Ansen on "Rudo y Cursi"

    The renaissance in Mexican movies is a fraternal affair. The movement's biggest stars—Alfonso Cuarón ("Y Tu Mamá También"), Guillermo del Toro ("Pan's Labyrinth") and Alejandro Gonzáles Iñárritu ("Amores Perros")—are all pals, much like that band of brothers (Spielberg, Lucas, Scorsese, Coppola) behind American cinema's 1970s "golden age." Cuarón, del Toro and Iñárritu are all listed as producers of the latest Mexican delight, "Rudo y Cursi," which is directed by Cuarón's actual brother Carlos, and stars "Y Tu Mamá's" irresistible duo, Gael García Bernal and Diego Luna—who have been best friends since they were 9 years old. It's definitely a family affair.Not coincidentally, "Rudo y Cursi" is the story of half-brothers, two hicks from the country whose skills at soccer are spotted by a savvy talent scout, who brings them to Mexico City where fame, fortune and beautiful women fall on them like fruit from the trees. Inevitably, the fruit rots, and these slumdog millionaires learn...
  • Newsweek's Oscar Roundtable

    Six stars. One room. Lots and lots of secrets—and a few lies. Welcome to the 12th NEWSWEEK Oscar roundtable.
  • Doubt review

    A passionate liberal priest goes toe-to-toe with an inflexible, authoritarian mother superior in John Patrick Shanley's theatrical barnburner "Doubt." Sister Aloysius (Meryl Streep) has decided, with little evidence but her unyielding moral certitude, that the charismatic Father Flynn (Philip Seymour Hoffman) has been paying "inappropriate" attention to Donald Stewart, the first black student at the St. Nicholas school in the Bronx. (The year is 1964, and the times they are a-changin'.) Did he or didn't he? This question hangs over the battle royal that ensues, as the stern Sister mounts a wily crusade to have Father Flynn thrown out of her school and Flynn fights to bring new ideas into the musty hallways of St. Nicholas.Shanley, directing his own work, throws in a few cinematic flourishes—he's big on tilted angles—but they only reinforce "Doubt's" theatrical nature. It's a meaty showcase for its stars. Streep, with her no-nonsense Bronx accent and know-it-all smirks, gives this...
  • Review: Ansen on 'Revolutionary Road'

    There are few better portraits of marriage gone wrong than the one depicted in Richard Yates's 1961 novel "Revolutionary Road." With surgical precision, Yates brings us deep inside the trapped lives of Frank and April Wheeler, a 1950s couple whose youthful dreams have been sacrificed on the altar of suburban comfort, conformity and compromise. Frank, bored to death by his job working for the Knox business-machines company, shores up his ego by seducing a worshipful secretary. April, who once harbored dreams of being an actress, is now the mother of two children she never really wanted. They drink too much, complain about their boring neighbors and lash out at each other in savage verbal combat, each finding the other a cruel comedown from the person they thought they once loved.The movie version, adapted with scrupulous fidelity by Justin Haythe, is directed by Sam Mendes, who dissected suburbia once before in his Oscar-winning "American Beauty." The unfortunate Wheelers are played...

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