Jeremy McCarter

Party at the OK Corral

Allan Metcalf's new book claims that the word "OK" is America's greatest invention. This offers a pair of provocations. How can "OK" be an invention? On a certain day, a certain guy just dreamed up the expression that has become the most frequently spoken word on the planet? And even if it is an invention, can one little word really be greater than jazz, baseball, and the telephone? Is it better than The Simpsons?

Kevin Kline: The Essential Man

After Kline's more than three decades on stage and screen, it's no surprise when he turns in a fine performance. He glides from heavy drama ("The Ice Storm") to really heavy drama ("Sophie's Choice") to silly comedy ("The Pirates of Penzance") to really silly comedy ("A Fish Called Wanda"), to say nothing of all that he's done onstage. Through all these roles, a distinctive Kline-esque style has emerged.

Movies: The Nuclear Option

Lucy Walker has made a horror film about the slaughter and wreckage of a nuclear attack. "Countdown to Zero" has all the essential flourishes of the genre: explosions, screaming crowds, buildings falling to ash. That the film is a documentary—an awfully persuasive one, at that—makes it all the creepier.

New York in World War II

Seventy years after it sweated and struggled to funnel troops to the front line, New York City has become the front line. Lower Manhattan still bears the scars of the 9/11 attacks, and if the Times Square bomber hadn't been so feckless, midtown would have its own crater and makeshift shrine.

Orson Welles: Back From the Dead

Film opens Nov. 25: It must have seemed that black had turned white and upside had turned down when Orson Welles, a man used to being praised as the youngest this and most brilliant that, began to hear himself mocked as "an international joke" and "the youngest living has-been." When Walter Kerr made that savage assessment in 1951, Welles was only 36.