David Thomson is the author of "The Biographical Dictionary of Film," "Moments That Made the Movies," and the pioneering novel "Suspects," which was peopled with characters from film. His new book is "Sleeping with Strangers: How the Movies Shaped Desire."
Film can make us want things we can not have. But, while sometimes rapturous, the interaction of onscreen beauty and private desire speaks to a crisis in American culture, one that pits delusions of male supremacy against feminist awakening and the spirit of gay resistance. Combining criticism, his encyclopedic knowledge of film history, and memoir, David Thomson examines how film has found the fault lines in traditional masculinity and helped to point the way past it toward a more nuanced understanding of what it means to be a person desiring others.