James Bowman

James Bowman, our movie and culture critic, is a resident scholar at the Ethics and Public Policy Center. He is the author of Honor: A History and Media Madness: The Corruption of Our Political Culture, both published by Encounter Books.


‘Hunt for the Wilderpeople’ Delights


But nowadays juvenility is no longer limited to the young, which may be why Mr. Waititi has to extend his casting reach all the way to 69-year-old Sam Neill to find an adult who is adult enough to take Ricky in hand and at least start the process of turning him into a man.

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The Lobster: Not for the Lover in You


When you must you can’t; when you can’t, you must. This view of falling in love could be the “message” of Yorgos Lanthimos’s The Lobster, which he directed and co-wrote with Efthymis Filippou. Or not. For there’s something about this quasi-surrealist fantasy which seems inconsistent with messages, morals, or any kind of serious thought about […]

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‘Me Before You’ — They Did It Their Way


One of the most depressing statistics I have ever read came out of a survey of British funeral directors a few years ago which asked them what, in their experience, was the most popular musical request to serenade the passage of the deceased to the next world. Top of the death pops, it found, was […]

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Weiner Roast: The Documentary


Near the beginning of Josh Kriegman and Elyse Steinberg’s “Weiner,” one of the film-makers asks their subject, the allegedly “disgraced” ex-congressman Anthony Weiner who, in 2013, decided to run for mayor of New York City, if his wife, Huma Abedin, had wanted him to get back into politics. He says that she did because “She was very eager to get her life back that I had taken from her.” Or, as one enthusiastic critic summed it up: Ms. Abedin was “a fellow political animal who felt, as he did, that another race would be the only way their lives could return to normal.” There, in a nutshell, lies the essential phoniness at the heart of this film.

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Don’t Kiss Me, Kate


Mr. Stillman, an old friend of The American Spectator, must have seen it as a challenge to make a movie so much against the grain of the familiar genre of costume drama as to feature a heroine with whom his female audience will presumably not want to identify themselves.

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There’s No Breaking Away


This year for the eighth summer in succession I presented—along with free pizza—a collection of old movies on a theme. The theme of this year’s series, jointly sponsored by the Ethics and Public Policy Center, where I am a resident scholar, and the Hudson Institute in Washington, where the films were shown, was “Middle America […]

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Imagine the World Without America


The exhortation in the title of Dinesh D’Souza’s new movie — America: Imagine the World Without Her — suggests that it is going to be an exercise in what they call “counter-factual” history. In other words, imaginary history. History as it didn’t happen. And the opening of the film appears to bear this out, since […]

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Removing the Magic from Mozart


Recently, my wife and I attended a performance of Mozart’s Magic Flute—which is what German speakers call a Singspiel opera, written in the vernacular and intended for a popular audience. In this it was unlike the others among Mozart’s most famous operas, which were written to Italian libretti and intended for a more aristocratic public—though […]

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Ida and Wanda


It’s hard to imagine anything more different from Pawel Pawlikowski’s wonderful My Summer of Love (2005) than his new film, but Ida is just as wonderful in its own way. It is essentially a meditation on and unpicking of a paradox, that of a Jewish nun, as a kind of synecdoche for the Polish experience of […]

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Requiem for the 
Chatterley Classes


My obituary’s written,” a tearful but paradoxical Eliot Spitzer told Vanity Fair a year or two after his forced resignation as governor of New York, “and that is a very hard thing to live with.” The obituary itself would presumably be a very hard thing to die with, but what he meant was that it was hard […]

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