Author: Steven Volynets

“Amazon Empire” Struggles Under Its Own Contradictions

Editor’s note: Quillette receives a small amount of revenue from Amazon affiliate advertising.  A review of Amazon Empire: The Rise and Reign of Jeff Bezos, Frontline, PBS, February 19, 2020.  William Lee, an English clergyman of Calverton, may have started the industrial revolution when he invented a stocking frame in 1589. Its basic principle is still used in manufacturing textiles. But when Lee first applied for a patent, Queen Elizabeth I refused: Her Majesty thought it would end hand-knitting and destroy jobs. By the late 19th century, the United States surpassed Great Britain as the world’s largest economy, fueled in part by John D. Rockefeller’s innovations in energy production. But despite cost benefits to consumers, the Justice Department brought an anti-trust suit against Standard Oil and splintered the company in 1911. Meanwhile, catastrophic train wrecks crippled the movement of goods and people: there was no safe way to stop bigger and faster locomotives. Not until the son of a New York machine shop owner, George Westinghouse Jr, came up with the airbrake. Predictably, the freight …

Once Upon a Time…Film Critics Became Joyless—A Review

*This article contains spoilers. Once upon a time, somewhere far from Hollywood, critics decided that movies for grownups should not be fun, and that the filmmakers who make them should be punished. For publications like The Guardian, the latest unacceptable pusher of a good time is Quentin Tarantino, with his long-anticipated Once Upon a Time…in Hollywood. “Whatever the merits of his new film, Tarantino’s films have revelled in extreme violence against female characters,” says the piece, entitled “End of the affair: why it’s time to cancel Quentin Tarantino.” Time Magazine went so far as to count “every line in every Quentin Tarantino film to see how often women talk,” tallying the results in data charts. This nakedly ideological ire against not just the movie, but Tarantino himself, extends even to The New Yorker—the same New Yorker where Pauline Kael, a decidedly non-ideological film critic, presided for a generation. “Tarantino’s love letter to a lost cinematic age is one that, seemingly without awareness, celebrates white-male stardom (and behind-the scenes command) at the expense of everyone else,” …