COLUMNS

  • Film

    Ridley Scott's Blade Runner

    “YOU NEXUS, HAH?” asks the wizened Asian technician at Eyeworld. “I made your eyes.” Roy Batty, the android replicant, purses his lips in ironic amusement: “Well, if only you could see what I’ve seen with your eyes.”

    References to eyes abound throughout Ridley Scott’s Blade Runner, not only at Eyeworld. The film’s second shot features a huge disembodied eye, staring unblinkingly at the infernal city spread before it (visible in the pupil as an impossibly clear reflection). Replicants’ eyes reflect with a glowing red when the light hits them right. The replicant-detecting apparatus of a blade

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  • Music

    My Bloody Valentine

    DREAM POP—THE WORDS CATCH in your throat like swallowed bubble gum. Which is why they summarize so well the music they’ve been glommed to. Eventually popularized by such bands as Ride, Lush, and My Bloody Valentine, the sound that inspired dream pop originally lofted up from the clubs of Manchester, England, in the mid ’80s, where an emerging generation of teen alchemists patched strobe lights and fully cranked guitar noise into acid-house sequencers, wrapping rock metal around house’s sensual yet faceless motifs of process and repetition. Opposed to the civic-mindedness many postpunk acts had

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  • Books

    Susan Sontag's The Volcano Lover: A Romance

    The Volcano Lover: A Romance, by Susan Sontag. New York: Farrar Straus Giroux, 1992.

    SUSAN SONTAG’S NOVEL The Volcano Lover: A Romance is the story of Sir William Hamilton, British ambassador to the Kingdom of the Two Sicilies for forty-odd years; his low-born but high-spirited (some would say bumptious) wife, Emma; and her famous boyfriend, Admiral Lord Nelson. It is also the story of Naples, one of the great cities of the 18th century, and latterly a tale of the Neapolitan Revolution. Sontag is obviously fond of this period, and she does a pretty good job of weaving the historical particulars

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  • Books

    Gore Vidal's Screening History

    Screening History, by Gore Vidal. Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1992.

    THE THREE LECTURES COLLECTED in Screening History, and delivered at Harvard in 1991, give us Gore Vidal at his most relaxed and digressively avuncular. His first sentence refers to that ever approaching Final Exit we must all take sooner or later—Vidal speaks of his Now as the springtime of his senescence—yet I detect no slackening of the nimble, wacky mind that summoned Myra Breckinridge in 1968. It must be said that Vidal, half politician that he is, tends to hone certain themes into aphorisms and to repeat these for

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  • Film

    Quentin Tarantino's Reservoir Dogs

    Let me tell you what “Like a Virgin”’s about. It’s about this cooz who’s a regular fuckin’ machine. I’m talkin’ morning day night afternoon dick dick dick dick dick dick dick dick dick.

    Then one day she meets this John Holmes motherfucker and it’s like, Whoa baby. I mean this cat is like Charles Bronson in The Great Escape: he’s diggin’ tunnels. All right, she’s gettin’ some serious dick action and she’s feelin’ somethin’ she hasn’t felt since forever. Pain. Pain. It hurts, it hurts her . . . just like it did the first time. You see the pain is remindin’ the fuck machine what it was once like to

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  • Film

    the Other Ireland

    We see it often enough: revelations about the private life of a public figure escalate into full-blown political and media spectacles. It also happens, though, that “ordinary” individuals are wrenched from everyday life and projected onto a national stage, as if acting out some deeply repressed anxiety in the social psyche. What was it about narratives of sexuality in Ireland, for example, that earlier this year turned the private trauma of a 14-year-old girl into a crisis that convulsed the entire nation?

    In January, a Dublin schoolgirl, pregnant after an alleged rape by a neighbor, sought

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  • Film

    Tom Kalin's Swoon

    ON MAY 21, 1924, Nathan Leopold, Jr., and Richard Loeb murdered Robert Franks, their 13-year-old neighbor, in the back of a rented pale-blue Willys-Knight while motoring along a busy Chicago highway. They then made a failed attempt to extort ransom money from the dead boy’s father, a wealthy entrepreneur. Eight days later both were arrested, brought in on circumstantial evidence—Leopold had inadvertently left his custom-made eyeglasses at the marsh where the naked and mutilated body had been secreted. Two days later the friends confessed. Subsequently tried and convicted, they were sentenced to

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