David Ansen

Stories by David Ansen

  • Summer Movies: Happy Endings?

    Every movie eventually fades to black. But very few of them know how to give audiences a grand finale.
  • Fun With Mick & Keith

    Scorsese's 'Shine a Light' proves that, after all these years, the Rolling Stones still gather no moss.
  • TV: HBO's 'Drab' John Adams

    In many costume dramas, clothes can make the film, or break it. HBO's miniseries 'John Adams' is the exception. It's fab even when it looks drab.
  • Ansen’s Oscar Picks

    And lest you doubt him, you should know that you do not want to compete with this guy in an office pool.
  • An Oscar for the Ages

    The 1967 best-picture race wasn't the usual face-off. It marked a shift in Hollywood, and in the culture.
  • Ansen on Sundance

    Our critic sat through 24 films at Sundance—here's what he enjoyed the most
  • There Will Be Oscars

    At least we think there will be, which is why we collected these likely acting nominees for our 11th Oscar roundtable. They're a lot of fun, and they've got lots to say. Best of all: they didn't need writers.
  • The Best Movies of 2007

    When asked to come up with his 10 favorite films of 2007, our critic wondered, 'Why stop there?'
  • A Visit to ‘The Orphanage’

    I used to love horror movies, but now I tend to dread screen dread. It's not that I've grown too old and jaded to be scared—nobody outgrows fear—but the new breed of horror movies, pitched almost exclusively at young male moviegoers, are more interested in sensationalism than insinuation. Movies like the "Saw" series and the "Hostel" franchise frighten by assault. Crushingly literal-minded, they leave little to the imagination—where the most resonant terrors incubate—and they've driven away a lot of horror-loving adults. But don't we need and deserve a good fright, too? A little terror, properly applied, is a kind of exorcism, yanking into daylight those primal demons that we stuff away in the back drawers of our psyches. A great horror movie is like a good shrink—and a lot cheaper, too. It purges us through petrification.That horror movie, thankfully, has arrived. It's called "The Orphanage," and it is seriously scary. This little Spanish ghost movie—made by a gifted young...
  • Review: ‘The Kite Runner’

    Directed by Marc Forster. Starring Khalid Abdalla, Zekiria Ebrahimi and Ahmad Khan Mahmoodzada.
  • Review: ‘Sweeney Todd’

    Directed by Tim Burton. Starring Johnny Depp, Helena Bonham Carter, Alan Rickman and Sacha Baron Cohen.
  • Review: ‘The Great Debaters’

    Directed by Denzel Washington. Starring Washington, Forest Whitaker, Denzel Whitaker, Nate Parker, Jurnee Smollett, Jermaine Williams.
  • Making a Killing in Oil

    'There Will Be Blood': A fierce California tycoon loves money almost as much as he hates everything else.
  • Review: ‘Persepolis’

    Directed by Marjane Satrapi and Vincent Paronnaud. With voices of Gabrielle Lopes, Chiara Mastroianni and Catherine Deneuve.
  • Truth and Consequence

    In the riveting 'Atonement,' a 13-year-old girl tells a lie that destroys many lives, including her own.
  • A Stunning Sex Scene— With No Sex

    The most erotically charged movie scene I've encountered recently occurs about 30 minutes into "Starting Out in the Evening," a small independent movie by director Andrew ("The Talent Given Us") Wagner. It's not a sex scene, exactly. No clothes are removed; no kiss is exchanged. The man, played with superb restraint by Frank Langella, is a formal, courtly novelist in his 70s, a reclusive writer highly prized by a coterie of literary intellectuals but largely forgotten by the public. The girl ("Six Feet Under's" Lauren Ambrose) is young enough to be his granddaughter. Ambitious, flirtatious, an avid worshiper of his novels, the attractive graduate student has persuaded him, against his better judgment, to allow her to interview him for her thesis on his work. Brazenly insinuating herself into his isolated life, she breaks down his rigidly enforced solitude. What exactly are her motives, we wonder? She's an ambiguous mixture of naivet? and cunning, so lost in her idealized vision of...
  • The Mind-Body Problem

    The hero of 'The Diving Bell and the Butterfly' can move only one eye—but he sure does get around.
  • Film Heroes and Zeroes

    I usually avoid novels about Hollywood. I'm a movie critic: it's coals to Newcastle. So many of them are just gossip tarted up with literary pretensions. But Steve Erickson's one-of-a-kind "Zeroville" is a novel for people who love movies. The deeper into them you are, the more you'll get out of it. Erickson's protagonist, Vikar Jerome, is in way deep, but he doesn't see movies quite how most people do: he thinks, for example, that "The Exorcist" is a comedy. Raised by a fierce Calvinist father who wouldn't allow him to see movies until he was 20, he arrives on Hollywood Boulevard via Greyhound bus in 1969, just when the Manson family goes on its rampage. Vikar has his own streak of violence, which tends to erupt when people mistake the tattoos on his shaved head of Elizabeth Taylor and Monty Clift in "A Place in the Sun" for Natalie Wood and James Dean. The unworldly, ex-seminarian Vikar is a kind of cinematic idiot savant: imagine a cross between "Being There's" Chauncey Gardener...