Tuesday, July 25, 2006
The trouble with movie reviews: the Ruth Franklin School of Film Criticism
Like Ruth Franklin with novels, I tire of having to stretch my mind to come up with new ways of expressing the warm feelings I develop toward many movies. I can certainly understand her frustration with respect to reviewing novels, which almost invariably are dead to me. (Yes, I know, it's a sickness of sorts.) But I definitely don't share the same ennui with non-fiction books with real opinions and arguments; there I have little trouble registering more than an utterance of affection.
In any event, I'm not one to give up on innovations lightly. Thus I'm starting a new feature at PrawfsBlawg, what might, in ironic homage, be called the "Ruth Franklin Movie Review." Here's how it works: I look at what's been successfully returned in my netflix queue, and the following genius erupts in prose.
Spanglish (2004): I liked it.
Yana's Friends (1999, Israel): I liked it.
Late Marriage (2001, Israel): I liked it!
The Limey (1999): Not so much, though I'm a fan of the genre generally.
Gandhi (1982): I liked it even more seeing it as a grownup.
March of the Penguins (2004): I fell asleep.
Feel free to add your own reviews in the comments. PrawfsBlawg is nothing if not Web 2.0!
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The phrase "De gustibus non est disputandum" leapt to mind at the point at which you hoisted your critical flag for Spanglish and lowered it for The Limey. Soderbergh may be a show-off, but what a show. As for Brooks, many of his movies, this one definitely included, make me feel like I am not only supposed to admire annoying people (and in this case, wealthy annoying people), but also to marvel at their complexity (no matter how callow and whiny they are) and sympathize with their problems (no matter how trivial or self-imposed). How heroic of Adam Sandler's character not to have an affair with his housekeeper! I would call this the Crash of west-LA-domestic-servant-relations movies, and not in a good way. But then, what do I know? I think Harold and Kumar Go to White Castle is genius.
Posted by: Paul Horwitz | Jul 25, 2006 2:26:53 PM
The Incredibles (2004): Slow start, liked it.
Good Night and Good Luck (2005): Liked it.
Paths of Glory (1957): Liked it, but less than when I only caught the last half.
Posted by: Bruce Boyden | Jul 25, 2006 2:48:27 PM
Re Spanglish. Boy, I hope Tea Leone was acting. Compared to her, Adam Sandler was more than heroic. He was a (Jewish) saint. Maybe she was channeling Mary Tyler Moore from Ordinary People (actor you really liked doing a "fingernails on the chalkboard" turn, but at least Beth had a tragic excuse for her hangups).
Posted by: Jeff Lipshaw | Jul 25, 2006 3:28:08 PM
I am a big fan of "The Limey." Stamp gives an amazing performance. I'm a sucker for the "English gangster" school of film -- I think Brad Pitt's best work was in "Snatch." Will Guy Ritchie ever make another good movie?
Posted by: Matt Bodie | Jul 25, 2006 11:59:31 PM
Matt, I meant to add my most recent movie, which fits in the genre of English gangster films. Thus--Layer Cake: I liked it!
Posted by: Dan Markel | Jul 26, 2006 7:54:06 AM
If you like English gangster films, see Get Carter (1971) (http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0067128/)with a relatively young Michael Caine playing a really despicable guy.
Posted by: Jeff Lipshaw | Jul 26, 2006 9:30:34 AM
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