Feb 19, 2010

Manohla Vs. A.O.

Roman Polanski and Martin Scorsese have 2 movies out this week. We are seeing both. I'm PUMPED!
The critics in the NYT seem to think one is good and the other one isn't. This caused a fierce comment thread on my facebook page in which somehow Yoko Ono, Hitler and Coldplay made an appearance (as in who of the three is most annoying). However, the passionate argument was not about Scorsese and Polanski, which everyone involved adores. It was about the film critics of the New York Times, who provoke violent feelings among readers.
I usually do not review other reviewers (it's not good form), but here goes:
We all love Anthony Lane, although sometimes I wish he'd just say whether he likes a movie or not. Commit, dammit.
I happen to like Manohla Dargis a lot. She can be ornery and venomous, which is sorely needed in the soporific, sclerotic Arts section of the Times. Also, how could you possibly hate someone who spells Manola with an h in the middle?
I like her more than A.O. Scott, whose taste seems to be warped by the amount of trash he sees. I will never forgive him the glowing review he gave to Invictus, the worst movie I have seen in a long time.
The one thing that drives me crazy about both of them is that they fill up space by revealing entire plots with nary a spoiler alert, which is why most of the time, if I haven't seen the movie, I only read the first and the last sentence of their reviews. This gives me an idea of whether the review is positive or not and I don't have to know that the butler did it.
I once sent hate mail to Janet Maslin. I threatened to send her a Molotov cocktail if she didn't cease giving away all the plots and all the jokes. Several years later, she no longer reviewed films. I'm sure I was not the only one complaining. She reeked.
And I'm proud to say I once got hate mail myself, when I was a reviewer for La Jornada Semanal, back in Mexico. The fact that a reader was so incensed by my bad review of Batman (the first one) that he sat down to compose a bitter letter of complaint, made my day, my month, my year.
I love that movies unleash passion in people.

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