‘Sleeping With Strangers’ by David Thomson

Peter Conrad at The Guardian:

Were the humanists wrong to claim that art is good for us, “like Ovaltine and yoga”? Movies have been more like a secret vice, the first and most invasive of the technologies that have progressively estranged us from one another. As a Londoner resettled in San Francisco, Thomson is also keenly aware of the way the medium has duped Americans, convincing them that happy endings are inevitable so long as gun-toting men control the narrative. “Can’t we admit,” he asks, “how much American experience has been rooted in fear?” In one mind-bending paragraph he outlines an alternative pantheon of great American films – including Citizen KaneVertigo and a surprising number of screwball comedies – that expose the country’s gnawing insecurity.

Thomson’s last and boldest speculative forays try to find a way out of the current impasse between the genders, for which he makes movies in large part responsible. Are the sexes doomed to battle for ever, as in Howard Hawks’s His Girl Friday?

more here.