Tom Carson

Tom Carson won two National Magazine Awards during his stint as Esquire's "Screen" columnist and has been nominated twice more as GQ's movie reviewer. Formerly a staff writer at LA Weekly and The Village Voice, he is the author of Gilligan's Wake (a New York Times Notable Book of the Year for 2003) and Daisy Buchanan's Daughter.

Recent Articles

Hipster Vampires in the Ruins of Motor City

Sony Classic Pictures
Jim Jarmusch's Only Lovers Left Alive is an awfully seductive movie if you don't make the mistake of thinking you're just waiting for the languid set-up scenes to be over and done with. If you're wondering when something will, y'know, happen, not a lot does, and you've been warned. But it's bound to resonate most among people attuned to—well, familiar with, anyhow—the director's very generationally specific, bohemian-artsy subcultural cosmos, a group that happens to include me. Either directly invoked or imaginatively distorted, our old badges of cool and secret-sharer identifiers are on display like dusty ornaments on an unlit Christmas tree. Knowing the whole dingus will end up curbside come New Year's, the way Christmas trees always do, is very much on the now 61-year-old-Jarmusch's mind. In Only Lovers , he's confronting—and mourning—the fact that all this wonderful music, style and attitude that meant so much to him and his chic-hunting peers will soon end...

The Clear-Eyed Utopianism of Ellen Willis

University of Minnesota Press
However much you may respect and admire a journalistic colleague, routine proximity to her and her work can dull your understanding of her overall accomplishment. I'm proud to say that I knew Ellen Willis slightly; during my stint at the Village Voice , we worked together a couple of times and occasionally chatted. Of course, I was also reading her Voice pieces as they came out, so a lot of what's included in The Essential Ellen Willis —edited by her daughter, Nona Willis Aronowitz, and newly out from the University of Minnesota Press —isn't unfamiliar to me. Re-encountering insights and stray observations of Willis's that had stayed messily filed in my brain for 30 years or more was an ongoing pleasure. But the effect of reading her in bulk was staggering just the same. Gee, one of the 20th century's great essayists and feminist pioneers used to say "Hi" to me when our paths crossed in the office. Dedicated utopianism will never be my favorite intellectual mode. But...

Jack Bauer Lives Another Day. The Question Is: 'Why?'

Daniel Smith/FOX
Daniel Smith/FOX The most notorious television series of the Bush-Cheney years is coming back to Fox on Monday. In 24: Live Another Day , rogue anti-terrorist agent (and poster boy for the efficacy of torture) Jack Bauer, after running amok and blowing away Russia's foreign minister four years ago, is still a wanted man. Played, as ever, by Kiefer Sutherland —who's gotten so mulish in the role that he might as well be towing a farm cart with his teeth —Jack is modeling a hoodie in London when new President James Heller (William Devane) comes to town to dicker with the British Prime Minister (Stephen Fry) over the lease of an island base that's apparently needed to keep those fun U.S. drones annihilating our Middle Eastern enemies, a priority our transatlantic chums are bewilderingly unthrilled about enabling. As it happens, Heller isn't crazy about drones either —of course not, civilized guy he is. But "the ugly truth," he says, "is that what we do has worked." Since...

I'm Over "Mad Men"

A TV series can only toy with profundity—and not deliver—for so long before the whole thing starts to feel like a shell game.

Courtesy of AMC Networks
Courtesy of AMC Networks We're only two weeks into Mad Men 's ultra-long goodbye—the final season's second half won't even air until 2015, meaning we could all be sporting Duck Dynasty beards by the time Part Deux rolls around—and I'm already noticing how sick I am of deciphering the runes in Don Draper's morose face. Can it be that Jon Hamm is getting as bored with playing Matthew Weiner's study in Existential Anguish 101 as I am by watching him? Hard to tell, but you'd hardly blame the actor if a certain fatigue has set in: "Okay, Jon, let's try a take where you squint pensively into the distance first and wince second for a change." A character can only be an enigma for so long before you start to wonder whether "enigma" got its start in life as the Greek word for "dullard." And a TV series can only toy with profundity for so long before the whole thing starts to feel like a shell game. (Just ask anyone sucked in by Lost. ) When all else fails, Mad Men can always fall...

Francois Mitterrand, the Man with a Plan

AP Images
If you can imagine Richard Nixon without his pathological unease—that is, a Nixon who was all dispassionate sang-froid and opportunistic mastery, the way he so desperately wanted to be seen—then you have a fair picture of Francois Mitterrand. I don't recall that the parallels between these two near contemporaries got much attention from the U.S. commentariat during their lifetimes, partly because we're not in the habit of comparing our own chief executives—however benighted—to foreign ones. But for American readers of Philip Short's A Taste For Intrigue: The Multiple Lives of Francois Mitterrand (Henry Holt, $40), the doppelganger effect of Mitterrand's setbacks, gambles, pragmatic self-reinventions and survivalist ploys is a bit eerie. His 14 sphinxlike years as president of France (1981-1995) outdid any French ruler since Napoleon III in longevity. Despite its somewhat trashy title, Short's richly detailed, never dull bio is a spellbinder for anyone...