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Jeff Simon

Jeff Simon is the News' Arts and Books Editor. He has been writing for the paper since Spiro Agnew was the vice president.


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Pray for Frances McDormand. Mind you, there's nothing wrong with her as far as I know. Her health, mental and physical, seems to be good. And so, bless her, is her penchant for speaking out of turn and making a little trouble. Here we are in the middle of a Hollywood Award Season involving the biggest wave of social protest and anxiety to hit American media and the E…

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The beard's still there -- that big, absurdly bushy white beard that, depending on your frame of reference, reminds you of Jehovah, Walt Whitman, John Brown or James Harden of the Houston Rockets. (Because he's a much younger fellow, the beard of the NBA's top scorer is jet black.) But there was David Letterman back on TV last week. His new and noteworthy show on Netfli…

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"Phantom Thread" is both a moment for celebration and a moment for mourning. It was one of the great films to come out in 2017 by one of the great originals in American movies — Paul Thomas Anderson. But it's also, according to its incomparable star Daniel Day-Lewis, the last time we will ever see him in a film again. Which would mean, in this case, the last time we wou…

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It's tempting to wonder why we needed "The Post." Didn't we already have the classic "All the President's Men" -- one of the greatest newspaper movies ever made -- about Watergate and the Washington Post? Didn't we just see another great newspaper movie -- Tom McCarthy's "Spotlight" -- about how the current Post editor Marty Baron led the Boston Globe into epochal studies …

Columns

The second season of FX's "American Crime Story" is called "The Assassination of Gianni Versace." The first was the smash hit and award season bonanza "The People Vs. O.J. Simpson." Versace begins at 10 p.m. Jan. 17. It confronts a specific period's homophobia directly in a way that, despite the geometrically progressing acceleration of the subject everywhere, is sti…

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"I, Tonya" doesn't waste a second telling you that the movie is based on "irony free, wildly contradictory, totally true interviews with Tonya Harding and Jeff Gillooly." Movie fans with good memories will hear echoes of Michael Ritchie's terrific "Positively True Adventures of the Alleged, Texas Cheerleading Murdering Mom," one of the more brilliant movies made for HBO…

Columns

Irv Weinstein was sitting in the row behind us. We were alone in our row, my 10-year old daughter and I. The three of us, then, were alone watching a press preview of Mel Brooks' "A History of the World Part One" in the long-gone Boulevard Mall Cinema Theater. My daughter and I had gotten there first and Irv had slipped in behind us before the movie began. Irv, wh…

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Ridley Scott's "All the Money in the World" is utterly amazing. Most people who keep up with movies already know this movie's stunning backstory - that Kevin Spacey's starring role as oil billionaire J. Paul Getty was scrapped when Spacey began to be the target of escalating stories of post-facto sexual abuse from young men, many of whom were underage when the claimed abus…

“My Next Heart: New Buffalo Poetry" edited by Noah Falck and Justin Karcher, BlazeVOX Books, 187 pages, $18 paper. R.D. Pohl, the longtime poetry editor of the Buffalo News, describes this as “the ‘go-to’ collection for a sampler of the next generation of Buffalo poets.” In other words, it’s an anthology of 54 poets ages 16 to 40, who were all either born in Buffalo or …

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Sorry. Snobs aren't welcome here. If you're someone who thinks that the only movies that matter are arcane and whose online clicks number in the single digits, you'd best move along smartly. More comfortable destinations await. This list of the year's best movies isn't for you. By the same token, if you're someone who always prefers to show up in a jabbering throng a…

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It was one of the secretly sublime moments in all of 1950s movies. The movie was Jack Arnold's 1954 monster classic "The Creature from The Black Lagoon," a B-movie in which only a fool could have predicted it would have a moment of the sublime. But there it was: in a scene upriver where the ugly Gill-Man has been hiding, the movie's beauteous, long-limbed star Julie Adams …

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Alexander Payne's "Downsizing" is a tour-de-force. Everyone pretty much knows that coming in, i.e. when you sit in a moviehouse where a whole alternative society has been created for humans five inches tall, you jolly well know you're going to see amazing things. And so you do. Especially when you see the two human worlds co-existing side by side: the mini-world and …

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There is a fine, maybe great, movie inside "The Greatest Showman." Unfortunately, it's hemmed in on all sides by the musical that it is (which was written by Pasek and Paul, previously responsible for "La La Land.") This isn't the first Barnum musical. The great movie it could have been was, at long last, the great and completely persuasive Hollywood movie biography of …

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“An Uncommon Reader: A Life of Edward Garnett, Mentor and Editor and Literary Genius” by Helen Smith, Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 440 pages, $35 The first member of the Garnett family to come to most readers’ attentions is almost always Constance Garnett, the famous Russian translator whose Dostoevsky is the first in the English language that many knew, for many decades …

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"This time, it's personal." Yeah, yeah, you've no doubt heard that orotund threat before in movie trailers for the newest sequel to some action revenge movie starring Charles Bronson, Bruce Willis or Liam Neeson. Readjust your appetite for mayhem. I'm using it in a much milder and friendly context, suitable for the holiday season. Here is my wayward personal list of …