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Film: A Visit from David Thomson

Dave Thomson, drawing by Henry Raleigh

By Henry P. Raleigh
ART TIMES November 2013 online

Dave usually drops in during those gloomy days of mid-winter here on Long Island’s East End. Outside are cold, fog and drizzly snow but inside one can find comfort with David Thomson’s The New Biographical Dictionary of Film in hand. No matter the dog eared pages from the succor provided over the previous two winters there are always here facts, biting crits, humorous digs, remarkable insights I had never noticed before. Beginning with a lyrical paean to Bud Abbot and Lou Costello and ending with Terry Zwigoff’s “Crumb” there lies in between one thousand seventy pages of anecdotal movie pleasure. The witty aphorisms are a treat all to themselves. How can you beat this reference to Jack Palance’s acting: (it) “carried a unique note of repressed hysteria.” And of Keria Knightly: “...she is about as interesting as a creme brulee where too much refrigeration has killed flavor with ice burn.” Or Steve Buscemi: “..a kind of Brooklyn Peter Lorre.” Or Matt Damon’s “squashed and rebuilt face.”

So let it snow, let it snow or whatever is going on out there. I await also Dave’s new book The Big Screen. With that I figure I can get through spring and summer, too.

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