Behind the Screen

Desson Thomson
Washington Post Film Critic
Friday, January 18, 2008; 12:30 PM

Washington Post film critic Desson Thomson was online Friday, Jan. 18, at 12:30 p.m. ET to discuss acting itself, as seen this year, and in the past. What is about Daniel Day-Lewis's performance that makes "There Will Be Blood" so powerful? Why does Javier Bardem capture us so powerfully in "No Country for Old Men"? What performances this year -- or in the memorable past -- really held your attention and why?

Thomson, a movie critic at The Washington Post for 15 years, was raised in England where he was entranced, like most, by Hollywood movies. It was a visit to see David Lean's "Lawrence of Arabia," that made him realize movies had to be a part of his life.

A transcript follows.

A transcript follows.


Desson Thomson: Hello folks. As we near the Oscars or the non Oscars, depending on whether the writers' strike nixes the show, it seems like a great time to get to what the awards -- at least in some part -- are all about. I am talking about the performances that affected us this year. What reached you? What didn't? Talk to me baby.


New York, N.Y.: I must be the only person who really didn't like Annie Hall -- jittery Diane Keaton and misogynist Woody just didn't do it for me. I'm glad he's found peace in his life but I really have to wonder why actors agree to star in his stinkers. I know that Scarlett Johannsen was very helpful in reviving press interest in his movies but I think it was bad for her career. It's come to the point that when I see an actor signing up for one of his films I just assume their career is going nowhere.

Desson Thomson: Ha! I know what you mean. But even a blind New Yorker can find the occasional acorn. I mean Woody not you. And he produces a Match Point, which was a fabulous movie. I think the problem is, he has become a hack unto himself. He's more obsessed with having made a movie than making a good one. Or so it seems all too often.


Arlington, Va.: Got to see There Will Be Blood last Friday night at the AFI in Silver Spring! I will be VERY surprised if Daniel Day-Lewis doesn't WIN the Oscar for Best Actor, as he was an extremely powerful presence on screen. And I kind of interpreted his character as Bill The Butcher turned oilman.

But what fascinated me more than anything else was the format of the movie, in that it wasn't an early 20th-century Syriana, depicting oil and capitalism and greed. Rather, I found it to be a very strong and fascinating study of Daniel Day-Lewis's character, and how he essentially self-destructed.

As to the pacing of the movie, the slowness didn't bother me. Rather, I felt the pacing to be very deliberate, very patient. A very well-crafted movie, in my opinion!

Desson Thomson: I agree with you a thousand per cent. Well said. It's a very powerful movie and I intend to see it many more times for its many brilliant qualities.


Washington, D.C.: What did you think of Mad Money? It looks stupid to me and a waist of Keaton's talent.

Desson Thomson: Haha. I like the "waist" of talent pun, intended or not. Ann Hornaday dismissed this with such authority I wouldn't dream of seeing it.


Washington, D.C.: I was very disappointed in American Gangster.

Desson Thomson: I was too. But perhaps you could elucidate why?


Washington, D.C.: I adored Juno. Great ensemble.

Desson Thomson: Many liked this movie too. Me among them.


Waldorf, Md.: Have you heard of any new movie theaters opening up or anymore closing?

Desson Thomson: None either way, unless someone has news to share with all of us?


Washington, D.C.: With the passing of the CO Dupont Circle, we've only got complexes from here on out. I wonder if chatters could share memories from movie palaces gone by, Kiss of the Spider Woman at the MacArthur in Georgetown (1985), Rope at the Key (1984) Manon of the Spring at the Biograph (1987), Indochine at the Outer Circle (1993) Blair Witch Project at the Janus (2001) and Eyes Wide Shut (2001) at the CO Dupont Circle. Anyone?

Desson Thomson: Great question.


Weston, Fla.: FIrst, I am 66 years old and don't usually watch a movie more than once. However, I have watched Michael Mann's "Heat" several times. It's not the Godfather, but it gets better each viewing. To me it's almost a classic. Your thoughts on "Heat" please.

Desson Thomson: I enjoyed it very much. And I know what you mean about repeated viewings. I believe Michael Mann has a hypnotic quality to his sequences, which are powered literally and figuratively by music. His stories and scenes have a flow which always get to me. And Heat, of course, has that incredible meeting between two great actors for the first time: Pacino and De Niro.

_______________________ 'Youth': Coppola's Dizzying Spin On Fleeting Time ( Post, Jan. 11)


Berkeley, Calif.: Hi Desson,

Thank you for such wonderful chats! Always enjoy them. I'm a law student who probably spends too much time watching movies, reading about movies, dreaming about movies, etc. I am often delighted and even overjoyed by what I see, but "Once" captivated me to the point where I felt (and feel) changed. Six months later, not a day goes by when something doesn't remind me of the movie. After I saw it, I went back to read reviews as always and I don't know if I've ever seen such rapture for a movie. Kenneth Turan actually said that "Once" was going to come into your life and make it whole, and many reviewers spoke in similarly dazzled tones. That said, why oh why is it not getting more love from the awards circuit? Just too strong a year? Unknown cast? Not enough glitz? I try not to get too caught up in the politics of the Oscar race, but I feel a little hurt somehow this year because there seems to be such a chasm between popular and critical reception ("Once" and also "Ratatouille" come to mind) and award recognition. Thanks!

Desson Thomson: Thank you so much. Very nice of you to say.

I felt similar rapture for Once and put it on my top 10 list. I know what you mean by the apparent forgetfulness of critics for the film at the end of the year. I hope that it resurfaces somewhere in the Oscar kudos list--at the very least for its fabulous central song. Saw it again recently and it had lost none of its powerful innocence.


Cassandra's Dream: I got a charge out of this sentence from your review:

(These British ears could also easily detect a Scot and an Irishman playing English.)

I guess Woody thought 99 percent of his viewing audience wouldn't know the difference...but he didn't reckon with Desson! Keep up the good work!

Desson Thomson: Ha! Thanks, mate. (There was a lot of negative stuff from British critics, at least the ones I know, towards Match Point too. They felt it was a very sanitized, sentimental view of English life.)


Iowa: I'm really, really hoping that Keri Russell's performance in "Waitress" isn't overlooked despite being so early in the movie season.

Desson Thomson: Me too. She was terrif.


Boston, Mass.: Hi Desson,

I'm going to see "There Will Be Blood" tomorrow, but I feel like I shouldn't go until I've already seen "No Country For Old Men." Please assure me that I'm making this up.

Desson Thomson: You should see both in any order you want.


Washington, D.C.: The latest Francis Ford Coppola film must be really awful if it's heading out of the E St. Cinema after only one week (down to 2 showings a day this week, which usually means it's on the way out). I realize the reviews were uniformly awful, but feel I should see it anyway, because, well, it's FFC's first film in over a decade. Have you seen it? If so, is it really that awful? And if so, should I go see it anyway? I saw all my "must see" movies over the holidays, and a very good lot they were (Atonement, Kite Runner, No Country, Diving Bell, Great Debaters and more) so can can afford to take a gamble. I've not yet seen TWB Blood, but that's because I want to be well rested for a 3-hour, serious film.

Desson Thomson: Yes, get the rest for TWBB.

I have posted my Youth Without Youth review for you.


Jargon: Who is John Anderson and why is he "special"? Is this a euphemism? Has the Post run out of reviewers?

Lots o' questions, but my main point concerns language like "despite director Reeves's tenacious grip on the film's visual signature, the not-so-novel DV view of the world"

I assume that he means Digital Video, but why not spell it out, or has this acronym entered common parlance? 'Cloverfield's' Monster Also Behind the Lens ( Post, Jan. 18)

Desson Thomson: John Anderson is a terrific person and movie reviewer who reviews for Newsday and Variety. (I presume by special, you mean the "special to" credit that we use for freelancers.) He's based in LA these days. He is filling in for Stephen Hunter who is on book leave. I agree, he should have spelled it out. I don't think it's quite universal yet, in the way that, for instance CGI (computer generated imagery) has become.


Aspen Hill, Md.: What did you think of Christian Bale's job in "Rescue Dawn"? Fairly Oscar-worthy (at least in terms of getting a nod -- not that he necessarily deserves the award) in my opinion. Any thoughts?

Desson Thomson: He was really good in that movie. But it was a small movie in the greater scheme of things Hollywood and I fear it will be overlooked.


Washington, D.C.: I think No Country for Old Men will take home a lot of awards.

Desson Thomson: It is certainly a huge front runner, and the Coen brothers are due many things. And Javier Bardem has a virtual lock on the supporting actor award.


Baltimore, Md.: Re D.C. movie theaters gone by: #1, the MacArthur wasn't actually in Georgetown, it was in the Palisades on MacArthur Boulevard. Last movie I saw there was Aguirre The Wrath of God. There was also a large, very large, theater in Spring Valley on Massachusetts Avenue that closed and was subsequently torn down. I remember seeing The Man Who Would Be King there, but I am darned if I can remember the name of the theater.

And long time Washington moviegoers are most fond of recalling the sadly departed original Circle Theaters that were on Pennsylvania Ave. near Washington Circle. They were called The Circle and the Inner Circle, which was why the theaters up on Wisconsin Avenue got dubbed The Outer Circle. The Circle was a repertory house in the days before video. Daytime double features back in the late '60s cost a buck!

Desson Thomson: Ah yes, I remember all of these places. The theater you are trying to remember was called the KB Apex.


Penelope Cruz/Volver:: we finally saw it this week. Wow! She is simply mesmerizing. I even missed some of the subtitles because I was watching her so intently. Yes, she's stunningly beautiful, but it was her performance that kept me riveted. Funny, haunting, assured, just amazing .Spanish, English, I don't care. She just needs to be in more films.

Desson Thomson: Absolutely! Agreed!


Alexandria, Va.: Isn't Forest Whitaker amazing? I think is Idi Amin was one of the best acting performances ever, and then compare that to his carefully nuanced James Forest St. in The Great Debaters. Wow.

Desson Thomson: Forest W. is a treasure on screen. You should see him in everything, including Ghost Dog: the Way of the Samurai, Bird, and A Rage in Harlem. But to borrow from Borat: As for his role in "Battlefield Earth", not so much.


Eastern Market, D.C. -- no movie theater here: Hi Desson.

Glad you thought highly of Zodiac, as did I. I'm awaiting the director's cut DVD.

What did you make of Atonement? I was actually annoyed while watching it and the gimmicky music score grated my nerves after about the 3rd time of hearing the typewriter clacking.

In stark, stark contrast, I fell in love with There Will Be Blood and its unconventional music score. I cannot recall ever being more mesmerized in a movie theater before.

As your namesake David Thomson blogged yesterday, he predicts the Atonement director will win the Oscar cuz there's no justice in this world!

I for one hope Blood will sweep the awards -- it's one of the most accomplished pieces of American cinema, IMHO.

Desson Thomson: Well hey, hey Eastern Market. I am glad you appreciated Zodiac. A supreme movie. And I am among the few, apparently, who wasn;t quite as enamored of Atonement as I should have been, I suppose. It's a good movie, though. I will say that. But emotionally, I wasn't as engrossed as others have been. As for There Will Be Blood, I know I am a stuck record, but what a great film. Hope it cleans up too.


Harrisburg, Pa.: Will the Oscar nominations show any love to "3:10 to Yuma"? Ben Foster, maybe? Not the best movie of the year, but I was disappointed the Globes didn't even nominate it for anything.

Desson Thomson: It hasn't been widespread but the movie has shown up on critics' lists here and there. If you check out Film Comment which culled a lot of critics' top 10 lists (which I was a part of), you'll see it made an appearance.


Cinemas of yesteryear: Anything and everything I ever saw at The Foundry -- Ponette, Kolya, The Color of Paradise, The Spanish Prisoner ...

Desson Thomson: Good movies, lousy theater. But it was near good Vietnamese restaurants in Georgetown.


Ocala, Fla.: In memory of the great but crazy Bobby Fischer, whose death was announced today, are there any outstanding movies set in the chess world besides "Searching for Bobby Fischer?"

Desson Thomson: Good question: I recall most immediately The Seventh Seal by Ingmar Bergman in which a medieval knight plays chess with Death himself. And wasn't that sexy scene in 1968's The Thomas Crown Affair, between Steve McQueen and Faye Dunaway, when they play footsie under the table during a game of chess?

Check this out too:


Rosslyn, Va.: See Forest Whitaker in The Crying Game. Great flick!

Desson Thomson: Oh duh, I can't believe I forgot that.


Washington, D.C.: I actually feel this was a good year for films.



No Country for Old Men

There Will be Blood

To name a few. I also applaud Ben Affleck and Sean Penn's directorial efforts.

Desson Thomson: I agree with you. Although I would applaud Casey Affleck, who was the real revelation in "Gone Baby Gone" (not to mention the "Jesse James" movie) rather than his semi talented brother.


Washington, D.C. is wrong: About all theaters here being cineplexes. We have a wonderful theater in The Avalon in upper NW on Connecticut Avenue, and if you're willing to drive an hour or so, the Senator in Baltimore. If you clicksters have not seen a movie at the Avalon, do it -- this is the way movies were meant to be seen. It's also in the middle of a commercial block, with a few restaurants and a fabulous funky clothing store, Catch Can. Don't do the mall cineplexes!

Desson Thomson: Hear hear!


How many were there?:

I posed this to Ann last week, and she liked the question.

Some friends sprang this on me after seeing THERE WILL BE BLOOD.

Were there really twins? Or did Eli have some kind of personality disorder?

Desson Thomson: I believe your latter interpretation is mine.


Palisades: The MacArthur was not in Georgetown -- it was in the Palisades neighborhood. It, like the Biograph, which was in Georgetown, is now a CVS. Ugh.

Don't forget that within the past two years, we also lost the great single-screen "Cinema" theater on Wisconsin Avenue, and its neighbor, the great six-screen, auditorium-seating (which was a good thing) and well-managed Wisconsin Avenue 6 theater.

Desson Thomson: Yes, we have lost a lot.


Arlington, Va.: Deeson,

Good to have you back!

It seems to me that The Silence of the Lambs has become the gold standard for psychological/serial killer movies. Do you find that to be the case? If so, why? Don't get me wrong, The Silence of the Lambs is a good movie, but I can still think of several other psychological/serial killer movies that are FAR scarier (psychologically) and far more creepy than Silence.

Just off the top of my head, Copycat and Se7en.

Desson Thomson: Thanks for the welcome. I think that Silence has a subtly creepy quality, not to mention one of the top 5 movie villains of All Time in Hannibal Lecter. I loved Se7en too.


Bucket List: Hi, Desson. Have you seen Bucket List? Ann's chat last week had people saying, it can't be that bad, it's a feel-good movie with 2 great actors going at it, go out and enjoy. Well, I've seen it, and I'm afraid yes, it is that bad. Part of the problem is that it so trivializes the cancer experience. I mean, I realize they can't, or don't want, to show actual effects of cancer and cancer treatment, but these guys might well have been misdiagnosed, judging from their symptoms and treatment. Aaarrgh.

Desson Thomson: Based on reviews I have little desire to see it, and your posting makes that lack of enthusiasm even more pronounced!


Alexandria, Va.: What do you hear about "Honeydripper," the new blues flick highlighted on today. When's it coming here?

Desson Thomson: It's coming Feb Uno and Ann Hornaday is reviewing it for Style. Haven't seen yet.


Baltimore, Md.: Zodiac is still getting a lot of Oscar buzz despite its early release, but the same cannot be said for Breach. I found Breach to be far superior to Zodiac, especially in its central storytelling and the performance of Chris Cooper compared to that of Jake Gyllenhaal. Did critics complete forget about this movie?

Desson Thomson: Breach did seem to be forgotten, alas. I liked the movie much but Zodiac was, for me, far more assured in the categories you mention.


Ambler, Pa.: Love your chats!

FYI, my college writing professor chided us for using the phrase you used "one thousand percent." She said there is no such thing as more than one hundred percent.

Desson Thomson: With all due respect to your college professor, who is right in such a dull way, I give you full permission to use a thousand per cent whenever you feel like it. It is so liberating isn't it?


Washington, D.C.: Re: Theatres gone bye -- I saw "She's Gotta Have It" at the Outer Circle. As a Howard student then, I was so very exciting to me. The movie hooked me and I've been a Spike Lee fan since. Prior to that I'd seen Spike's "Joe's Bed-Sty We Cut Heads" screen at the MLK Library downtown.

Desson Thomson: Very cool. Spike was a revelation when he busted out.


Washington, D.C.: Hi Desson! I love your chats! We invoked your name during a discussion last weekend, hoping you could settle a question raised upon our seeing a television commercial for The Spiderwick Chronicles. Here it goes...

I had received passes to see the movie at the end of December. My husband thinks that since the theater release of the movie is in February, this is a very long delay -- meaning that the movie was retooled upon audience reaction during previews in December. I wasn't sure about this, since a six-week delay (the time of the previews we saw and the release date in mid-February didn't strike me as so long).

Can you tell us? Was this movie reworked?


Desson Thomson: Well, I am honored to have my name invoked without a court summons involved. Big movies are very often subjected to preview audiences and re-jiggered accordingly. So I wouldn't be surprised at all. Although such practices tend to strike me as bad and tacky at first blush, there is something to be said for being responsive to audiences so you can build a better mousetrap.


Bethesda, Md.: And don't miss Forest W. in "Fast Times at Ridgmont High" (along with other frequent Oscar contenders Sean Penn and Nicolas Cage). Great stuff.

As for lost theaters, I do miss some of them, not for their "character" (they were claustrophobic and/or dive-y), but simply for the convenient locations. The Dupont one in particular, but also one of the Odeons (I forget which) that used to be in the West End (it was near work, at the time). And I have great memories of seeing "Buffy the Vampire Slayer" and "Rocky Horror" (at midnight, of course) at the Foundry.

Desson Thomson: Ha, yes to all you said.


Washington, D.C.: I didn't write the initial statement, but I too was underwhelmed by American Gangster. I think with the pedigree that the movie possessed, I may have expected more. The biggest problems with this movie occurred in the editing room, which resulted in a movie that had very little flow and LOTS of unnecessary scenes (Could someone please tell Carla Gugino that she needs to give her agent a raise). The movie tries to replicate the "family" aspect of The Godfather and Goodfellas, but does so without falling into the cliches created by other mob movies, and in doing so, it is devoid of a singular tone.

I guess I shouldn't have been surprised considering the number of changes in personnel (actors, directors, and writers) that occurred during the production.

Desson Thomson: I think those are some excellent thoughts on the movie's problems. It amounts to a permanent virus on the left coast: Hollywood overwriting.


RE: Michael Mann's Heat: One of the greatest movies ever made! Though unlike the previous poster, I WILL rank it on the same level as The Godfather. (Just my own personal opinion. Not a shot at the original poster.)

The one thing that burns me about Heat, though, is how it was totally snubbed by the Oscars when it came out. Because I think for such a masterfully crafted and acted movie as that, it deserved Oscar nominations for Best Picture, Director, Actor (De Niro), film editing (the fabulous coffee shop scene and the legendary gun fight in the street), cinematography, sound (the real echos of gunshots), and screenplay.

Desson Thomson: Glad you appreciate this movie!


Philadelphia, Pa.: Actually you can have more than 100 percent literacy. A population is 100 percent literate at the 8th grade level; more than that is above 100 percent. So go for it!

Desson Thomson: I have no idea what this means, but it sounds great.


Underlooked performances, departed venues: A performance that really captivated me this year was Paul Schneider as the brother in "Lars and the Real Girl." The entire ensemble was superb and of course we expect the best from Ryan Gosling, Emily Mortimer, and Patricia Clarkson, but Paul Schneider took what could have been a sit-com-ish role and made it very tender and touching. He was also excellent in the Jesse James movie. My favorite performance of the year was probably Amy Ryan in "Gone Baby Gone," and she seems to be a front-runner for the Oscar. I know you said Bardem is, too, but I would so love to see it go to Hal Holbrook. He broke my heart in "Into the Wild."

I miss the Biograph and the Circle, and I also miss the small AFI theater at the Kennedy Center. We saw many great films there and one of the best evenings ever was when Irene Dunne appeared in person for an interview following one of her movies. I still remember her explanation of why Cary Grant was her favorite leading man: "Don't tell Cary I told you," she said, "but he always said I was the sweetest smelling actress he ever worked with."

Desson Thomson: Fabulous - good stuff. I hear you on all.


Wisconsin: I miss that cinema. My parents took me there for my first R-rated movie: The Commitments. It was the first time I'd ever heard an audience talk back to the screen.

Desson Thomson: Ha, really? They talked back? That's great. I loved that movie. I'll date myself now and tell you the first movies I saw there were Klute and Sleeper.


Re: 1000 percent: That clearly wasn't a math professor. 1000 percent of something is the same thing as times as 10 times that whole something. You agreed with that person 10 times over.

Desson Thomson: I ma getting so immersed in zeros, I am starting to see my math teachers of the past (all of whom who threw their hands up in disbelief at my numerical illiteracy): Mr. Foster, Miss Bostock, Mr. Cairncross...


Austin, Tex.: So the BAFTA nominees were announced this week? Does the American writers' strike affect this awards show at all? Does any U.S. TV outlet have broadcast rights to the BAFTAs? If the strike torpedoes the rest of awards season as it did the Globes but can't touch the BAFTAs, it may be the only full-on red carpet-style awards show we get this year.

Desson Thomson: I seem to remember the BAFTAs can be picked up on a cable channel coz I saw them in the US on one of mine. And it does stand to be the only kudocast (as Varietyspeak would call it) we'll see this year, since the Brits are not on strike.


Petworth, D.C.: I could write an essay on lovely, long-gone theaters. The Circle, The Biograph, The Ontario, the Embassy, The Outer Circle... I could keep going for far too long.

But don't neglect the Uptown, the Avalon and the AFI Silver. Keep them alive people!

Desson Thomson: Agreed. Keep em alive.


Washington, D.C.: I had broken up with a boyfriend and in order to occupy my Sundays which had previously been spent watching soccer (he was English) I went to the Cineplex Odeon to see Chocolate. I was the only person under 75 in the theater and one older woman patted me on the shoulder when she walked by and said "don't worry dear, you'll meet someone."

Desson Thomson: I am so sorry it didn't work out between us.


Washington, D.C.: Hi Desson! Performances I loved this year include Robert Downey Jr. in "Zodiac", Tilda Swinton in "Michael Clayton", Keri Russell in "Waitress", Jennifer Garner in "Juno" (although the entire cast was great, I've never seen JG look so radiant or be so effecting) and Michael Cera in "Superbad." At 32 I am way too old for him, but I do harbor a wee crush!

Desson Thomson: Yes, as Diablo Cody (Juno screenwriter) said of Cera and his impact among girls: You can actually hear teenage girls ovulate as he passes.


The Great Debaters: Hi, Desson. I went to see this film and loved it, but I'm reluctant to take my 11- and 13-year-olds because of the lynching scene. They know a bit of this situation; in fact, two of their grandparents were "freedom riders" and we're very proud of this heritage. But I'm afraid that even if I discuss this situation beforehand, they will have nightmares forever. I don't know how old your children are, but would appreciate your thoughts on this. Or perhaps other chatters can help? Thank you very much.

Desson Thomson: I regret that I haven't had time to see this yet. Good question. And unfortunately we are at the tail end of the chat. If anyone has thoughts on this, I am back on Feb 1. Orf you can raise it with Ann next Friday?


Washington, D.C.: I felt a lot was lacking in the American Gangster script. The acting was fair, but the script didn't call for that extra edge that The Departed had. It tried but failed. Also Denzel didn't bring any to the role that we haven't seen him do before. After much hype, you left thinking that it was only okay.

Desson Thomson: Yep. I can understand that reaction.


Formerly D.C.: Re the poster who asked about memories of D.C. theaters past. I lived in D.C. 1969-1990. My memories are of "mainstream" pornographic movies at midnight at the Biograph on Fridays, such as "Misty Beethoven" and "Behind the Green Door," great for "ending" a Friday night date. Also, wonderful double bills at the old Penn at Penn and 21st, like "Walkabout" and "Zulu" together.

Desson Thomson: You have been around the block, I see.


The MacArthur: The last movie I saw there was "Return of the Jedi" on opening day. I was in the Navy at the time and had worked a 12-hour shift and got off at 06:00 (6 a.m. for you civvies). My friend and I ate breakfast and went to the theater where we took a nap on the lawn nearby before our show time.

I only hope the Uptown can remain. That place has many good movie memories for me.

Desson Thomson: Hear hear.


Union Station, D.C.: Someone misses the Dupont Circle 5? I saw one movie there once and I never went back. What a dump. The Landmark downtown is light years away in quality. There is still the Uptown, though I'm almost hoping that MAC sells it, maybe to the P and G folks, because they don't know what to do with it. I just hope they don't sell it to the church who's renting it on Sundays.

New theaters? I thick the Consolidated folks opened three new ones last year at PG Plaza, Kingstowne and somewhere west of Dulles, but I can't think of any more right now.

Desson Thomson: Thanks for all that.


Re: psychological/serial killer movies: Please don't forget about the often overlooked "Memento." It should have not only won for best original screenplay in 2002, but also been at least nominated for best picture.

Desson Thomson: What a great picture. Was my number one that year.


Washington, D.C.: Hiya Mr Thomson,

Always look forward to the chats. We saw 'The Orphanage' and talk about creepy -- I thought it was much scarier than the 'Freddie'-type horror movies that clue you in when something bad happens by the sudden change in background music. Really a good follow-up, I think, to 'Pan's Labyrinth.'

My question: totally different genre, but, did you see 'The Water Horse'? If so, did you like it (or not)?

Cheers thanks,

Briony (yes, that Briony that was depressed over Atonement)

Desson Thomson: Who can forget that name, Briony. Alas haven't seen the Water Horse. But glad you liked Orphanage as I did.


Waldorf, Md.: Movies that were memorable based on the theater, Blair Witch Project at Outer Circle before it went wide. Got tickets 2 days in advance, got in line, and there was a scalper there! I have never seen that at a movie theater since.

Desson Thomson: A scalper? Seems appropriate for the kind of grass roots success that movie turned out to be.


Daniel Day-Lewis: I haven't seen the movie, only the trailor and while the movie does seem powerful...DDL grates on my nerves in the the TRAILER. I think it's the accent he is working in the movie, it really is jarring to me...anyone else?

Desson Thomson: He is jarring throughout, in an intentional way. But also hypnotically compelling.


Baltimore, Md.: I love a good monster movie and rank The Host among the best movies I saw in '07. I am intrigued by Cloverfield but have not seen anything to indicate that it's worth my $10. Am I better off seeing "There will be Blood" or "The Orphanage" and catching Cloverfield on DVD?

Desson Thomson: You liked the Host too? Great flick! Was on my top 10. I suggest you see Orphanage in case it goes. And see them all. Cloverfield could work just as well on dvd, I'd wager, since it's essentially shot as a point of view video anyway.


Arlington Cinema 'N' Drafthouse: If they ever close that place, I will cry for a year!

Desson Thomson: Great place.


Re BAFTAs: Thank goodness for BBC America! Oh and Up the Villa!

Desson Thomson: You are a true supporter of things British. Good for ya.


Greenbelt, Md.: Even though I was spoiled to the fate of the dog, I went to see 'I Am Legend.' After watching, my major objection to it was that religious faith was brought in. Until that point, it was a great popcorn flick for me. Does anyone out there know why they decided to supercede the science aspect with religion?

Desson Thomson: It sure got cluttered up with some messianic business, which wasn't to my taste--not in that movie anyway.


Richmond, Va.: Cloverfield -- yay or nay?

Or, more importantly, since I've already agreed to see it, should I bring my itty bitty book light?

Desson Thomson: I intend to see it soon and am dreading the vertigo.


Desson Thomson: Thanks everyone for playing. Hope you have a great weekend and we will chat again soon!


Editor's Note: moderators retain editorial control over Discussions and choose the most relevant questions for guests and hosts; guests and hosts can decline to answer questions. is not responsible for any content posted by third parties.

© 2008 The Washington Post Company