Philippa Snow

  • film January 16, 2020

    L.A. Gory

    UNTIL VERY RECENTLY, the 1991 film L.A. Story was hands-down the best satire of Los Angeles as told from the perspective of a man experiencing a possible psychotic break. Harris K. Telemacher—a TV meteorologist played by Steve Martin—is an “egghead” who loves Shakespeare, but finds himself drowning in a sea of Angelenos who get furious in traffic, love colonics, drink “decaf double half-caf with lemon,” and remain incapable of enjoying culture unless it happens to be the probiotic kind. He has one love interest with the unbelievably dumb name SanDeE*, who is into hippy-dippy woo-woo nonsense

  • film February 05, 2019

    Coercive Theater

    ABOUT HALFWAY THROUGH Brian De Palma’s 1970 film Hi, Mom!, a white woman, dazed and recently raped, gives a fuzzy exit interview on camera. “Well, [New York Times theater critic] Clive Barnes was really right,” she says. “It was some experience. I’m gonna tell all my friends that they’ve gotta come.” The experience she’s referring to is Be Black, Baby, an immersive opportunity (and Hi, Mom!’s film-within-a-film centerpiece) for well-heeled white people to, per the title, temporarily “be black.” If this white woman and her kin had predicted correctly that they would be given “soul food” and be

  • film March 29, 2018

    It Felt Like a Kiss

    A BLONDE IN HOT PINK and a wrap as white as a wrap of pure cocaine steps out into a good-time party on what looks to be a balmy summer night, and sizzles. What she’s looking for is not sex, but a song.

    It’s fair, and obvious, to say she looks like sex; she also looks like Marilyn Monroe, this being Henry Hathaway’s Niagara (1953). Her character, Rose Loomis, is marked from the start as liberated, sexually adventurous, and thus imperiled. Rose is living in a cabin at Niagara Falls with George (Joseph Cotten), her husband, and is sleeping with a man named Patrick (Richard Allan). She and Patrick

  • DESIRING MACHINE

    “FROM THE START, pianists have an uphill battle to become good musicians, because of the essentially mechanical nature of their instrument,” the critic Nicholas Spice once wrote of Glenn Gould. “Where string players, wind players and singers are obliged to involve their bodies and their breathing in their technique, pianists can sit at their keyboards like computer operators.” If the piano is a kind of machine, one could say that hands—famously fetishized by Michael Haneke’s cool gaze in The Piano Teacher—are the link by which the pianist yokes herself to the machine. Or, better,