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Sunday, December 21, 2014, 9:15 a.m.
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Philip Martin

Stories by Philip

Spirits: No excuse needed to drink champagne

posted: 12/21/2014 2:11 a.m. Discuss

We used to party.

On the centennial of the "Christmas Truce"

posted: 12/21/2014 1:56 a.m. Discuss

The night closed in early--the ghostly shadows that haunt the trenches came to keep us company as we stood to arms. Under a pale moon, one could just see the gravelike rise of ground which marked the German trenches 200 yards away. Fires in the English lines had died down, and only the squelch of the sodden boots in the slushy mud, the whispered orders of the officers and the NCOs, and the moan of the wind broke the silence of the night.

Review: The Babadook

posted: 12/19/2014 1:50 a.m. Discuss

Saturated with dread and genuinely unsettling, Australian director Jennifer Kent's first feature The Babadook is an elegant little horror film reminiscent of Roman Polanski's "apartment trilogy" -- Repulsion (1965), Rosemary's Baby (1968) and The Tenant (1976) -- albeit minus Polanski's kinky male gaze. It is the sort of thing that stays with you for a while, possibly for quite a while, and even as I write this review I recognize that it's possible I've slightly underrated it.

On Film: The balloting begins for good year in film

posted: 12/19/2014 1:49 a.m. Discuss

This weekend the Southeastern Film Critics Association will vote on the best films and performances of what -- to my mind, anyway -- has been the best year at the movies since 2007 (the year of No Country For Old Men, There Will Be Blood, Zodiac, Into the Wild, Juno, The Diving Bell and the Butterfly and Superbad). I'll be in the bunker most of this weekend tabulating that poll, and we'll have the results here next week.

On Books: A bird, a Ford, a Bellow, a bear, a Crane

posted: 12/14/2014 2:19 a.m. Discuss

"What are you reading?" is a loaded question, especially when posed to someone who writes about books. The truth is I read a little of maybe a dozen books a week, but only write about those I finish -- or nearly finish. There's no way to stay current as a literary critic; there's simply too much coming at you all the time to apprehend more than a small fraction of the fusillade.

Precious metal: the killing of Tc Edwards

posted: 12/14/2014 2:04 a.m. Comment 1

What's a human life worth?

Review : Don't call it a Western

posted: 12/12/2014 2:06 a.m. Discuss

The Homesman is not a movie that fits comfortably into any established rubric; to call it a Western is to invite the disgust of its director/star Tommy Lee Jones, who (though he may well be the unhappiest thriving human being on the planet) actually has a point. No true artist condones the genrefication of his work.

Review: Comet

posted: 12/12/2014 1:59 a.m. Discuss

Brightly written, the (essentially) two-character romantic comedy Comet has no difficulty exceeding the relatively low expectations a seasoned moviegoer is likely to hold for it.

The map is not the territory

posted: 12/07/2014 3:56 a.m. Discuss

I save things, so there is a good possibility that somewhere in a box in my attic is a copy of an interview I conducted in 1988 with a Texas man who survived the Japanese attack on the Pearl Harbor Naval Station on this date 73 years ago. But when I went to look for that piece last week, I couldn't find it. Nor could I find it in any online archive. So I cannot confirm what I think the man, who seemed remarkably old to me even then, told me about his experiences.

Critical Mass: 12-for-a-penny score begets lifelong junkie

posted: 12/07/2014 2:59 a.m. Discuss

I had friends who used to scam Columbia House Record Club.

On Film: Transcending Time

posted: 12/05/2014 1:51 a.m. Discuss

I'm aware of the tendency for people -- both professional critics and civilians -- to provide instant feedback on movies they've just seen via Twitter or Facebook. I tend not to do that for a couple of reasons. First of all, there's a residual reluctance to scoop myself with a 140-character spoiler. But more importantly, I often don't know exactly what I think about a movie in the immediate afterglow.

Review: Citizenfour

updated: 12/05/2014 1:47 a.m. Discuss

For a brief time in the early 1970s, CBS updated and brought back its '50s-era You Are There series for broadcast on Saturday mornings. The conceit of the series was that CBS News would cover historic events -- the show opened with Walter Cronkite at his anchor desk in New York, then the show would somehow warp through time to the scene of some significant happening, such as the Lewis and Clark expedition.

Review: The Sleepwalker

posted: 12/05/2014 1:46 a.m. Discuss

There is something in the semiotics of the publicity materials for The Sleepwalker (particularly the main poster, which features a doubled couple, the male images receding into a kind of ghostly paleness behind the rapturously twinned female) that led me to expect something like a Scandinavian twist on the Korean horror genre. I was wrong about that.

This is not a column about Ferguson

posted: 11/30/2014 2:07 a.m. Discuss

This is not a column about Ferguson, Mo.

Critical Mass: Ode to Springsteen, and a confession

posted: 11/30/2014 1:57 a.m. Comment 1

God help me, but I still believe in rock 'n' roll.

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