June 2004 Archives

Spoiling Spoilers

The highest compliment I can pay to Kevin Macdonald’s Touching the Void is that few people will notice how radical it is. It’s a completely gripping, horrifying movie, and it’s so good that it’s easy to overlook what Macdonald has done: seriously undercut the idea that plot “spoilers” damage the experience one has with a movie.

Critiquing Critics

The New York Review of Books has an excellent piece in its July 15 issue on the nature of criticism. It deals specifically with Dale Peck’s already notorious Hatchet Jobs — which, of course, I haven’t read — and concerns itself primarily with the role of the critic. The author’s conclusion is that Peck is too busy “punishing” the authors he’s slamming to effectively “judge” them, and that Peck needs to offer an alternative to the books he loathes to be a good critic.

Growing Up Potter

Alfonso Cuarón’s Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban won me over quickly and didn’t loose its grip. Unfortunately, I fear it will become the series’ The Empire Strikes Back — the pinnacle that shows the bankruptcy of the rest of the entries. And for that, we should thank the good executives at Warner Brothers.

Netflix has ruined my life. Oh, it’s not quite that bad, but it has certainly altered the role of movies in my life. While they have been important to me, probably to a fault, now films have become the sun around which our leisure time orbits, to the point that leisure time isn’t quite so leisurely.

Blaming for Columbine

It’s difficult to understand a person who thought a shot-for-shot re-make of Psycho was anything more than a self-indulgent exercise, but faced with writer/director Gus Van Sant’s puzzling Elephant, I’m forced to try.

A marker of getting old — not old old, but well beyond one’s 20s — is recognizing the flaws of something once adored in youth. Twice recently I’ve had that experience, once while watching Peter Weir’s Fearless (from 1993) and more recently with Dolores Claiborne, the 1995 movie directed by Taylor Hackford and adapted from the Stephen King novel by Tony Gilroy.