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The Holdovers and Tom Wolfe

By February 25, 2024Commentary

I don’t know if anyone cares about my book or movie reviews, but I will share them anyway.  On a plane yesterday I saw two very good films.  One was a documentary of Tom Wolfe, who redefined a form of journalism and reconceptualized the modern novel.  A mild-mannered Virginian, Mr. Wolfe’s prose was incendiary and imaginative.  His descriptive powers and incisive understanding of human behavior were revelatory.  His sense of humor and delight in knocking down any false idols always had me laughing as I read.  One particularly good episode, which I had almost forgotten, was his mockery of Leonard Bernstein, the legendary composer, for hosting a party for the criminal, murderous, racist and misognynist Black Panther party.  The New York City establishment was outraged at Wolfe’s derision of this beloved icon.  Everyone else was rolling in the aisles.  As is the case today, that era’s version of the pro(re)gressives could not stand having the mirror held up to their behavior, especially their hypocrisy in supporting people and movements that make life miserable for the average person.  Tom would have trouble finding a publisher today–no one wants to be associated with truth-tellers now.

The second film was The Holdovers, a well-acted, well-written, if a little formulaic movie set at a private boarding school in the Northeast.  The basic premise is that a few students, eventually one, have no where to go for Christmas holidays so must stay at the school, which means one professor and a cook must babysit them.  The professor is a mean grump so as you can imagine much of the movie is about his humanization and involves all characters revealing troubling events and issues in their lives.  My wife and I have found it increasingly difficult to find enjoyable movies, so this one, like American Fiction, was a pleasure because the story, the directing, the acting were all well above what is typically seen these days.  And the lesson, intended or not, is that we all have things that trouble us and influence our behavior, and we all have difficulty talking about and sharing those things with other people, but when we do, we learn a lot about ourselves and those other people, and we form friendships that are the most meaningful part of life.  It is a bitter, brutal journey, and building those relationships with others are what makes it at all bearable.

Join the discussion 3 Comments

  • Dan says:

    Holdovers sounds like The Breakfast Club which didn’t suffer from all the DEI and woke bs all modern movies are forced to present to make their minders happy. The other one sounds interesting though.

  • Jolie says:

    I’m always glad to hear about movies that don’t suffer from DEI that are worth watching. Thank you.

  • Diana Roeder says:

    I very much enjoy your book and movie reviews–please continue them. A friend of my husband’s and mine gave us a copy of “Radical Chic” before he passed away, and I really enjoyed it. Now that you remind me of it, I intend to pull it out and read it again. So much fun to read a work I missed when it was published, even though I lived through that era. Especially a work that treated the DEI purveyors with the ridicule they deserve.

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