Culture/Manners

Though I am not a smoker, Mayor Bloomberg’s drive to ban smoking from every corner of every bar and restaurant in New York seems creepy and wrongheaded. It is weird enough that his administration seems to feel so confident it has solved such social problems as crime, homelessness and dysfunctional schools that it can expend time [Read more…]

A few years ago, I was hiking up to an observatory in Georgetown on the Malaysian island of Penang. On the steep, winding road to the top, I fell into conversation with a well-dressed middle-aged man, a Malaysian Chinese, who told me about the problems his daughter faced getting into university because of the regime’s nastily [Read more…]

HOLLYWOOD HAS NEVER BEEN WORSE. HERE’S WHAT’S WRONG Every summer since “Jaws,” which inaugurated the era of the event movie, people who love films have complained about the awfulness of Hollywood’s latest efforts. But this summer the movies were worse than ever by a huge margin – so much so that it’s hard not to wonder [Read more…]

Hollywood does justice to Patrick O’Brian’s naval saga DEVOTEES OF PATRICK O’BRIAN’S celebrated series of historical novels are likely to be not just relieved but delighted by Peter Weir’s beautiful film “Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World.” They had reason to be worried at the prospect of a Hollywood version of the beloved [Read more…]

Victorian virtues, Hollywood vices. BOTH THE NEW MOVIE “The Four Feathers” and the reaction to it exemplify contemporary attitudes to Anglo-Saxon imperialism and the Victorians who practiced it. The film itself–the sixth cinematic version of the A.E.W. Mason novel first published in 1902–is a failure as motion-picture entertainment: visually stunning but dramatically weak and thematically confused. [Read more…]