October 16, 2003

Critical of the Critics

Stephen Schurr over on The Black Table yesterday stared into his crystal ball and predicts our Oscar future. It actually looks like a pretty complete list to Cinecultist and we do like the Sean Penn.

Our only quibble with his extensive preview of the season's up coming riches? Calling David Denby of the New Yorker "the best critic in the business, hands down". Give us a freakin' break. Denby couldn't find a good film if it came up and kicked him in the ass. At least Anthony Lane's reviews at the New Yorker are snarky, if misguided. We like our man Mick LaSalle at the San Francisco Chronicle if you want to talk good critics. Smart about movies and hilarious to boot. (He hated Kill Bill too.)

Brandon Judell over on IndieWire takes issue with A.O. Scott's rave over Mystic River and his deification of Penn in his coverage of the opening of the New York Film Festival. We've been cranky at Scott ever since he made CC excited about the release of Woody Allen's travesty Anything Else, so we understand where Judell is coming from in his issue at Scott's opinions:

"Just ask the New York Times's A.O. Scott. In a review that makes Janet Maslin's infamous take on "Titanic" seem even-measured, he opined that Sean Penn's performance is "not only one of the best performances of the year, but also one of the definitive pieces of screen acting in the last half-century." Not stopping there, he goes on to say Penn makes "Brando, Dean, Pacino and De Niro...all look like, well, actors." Only in paragraph nine of his review does he hint the film is not perfect: "The movie almost entirely avoids melodrama or grandiosity." A more balanced critic might share where Clint slips."

We hate to break it to Judell, but critics aren't obliged to be balanced. We're supposed to have opinions, with thoughtful arguments to back them up. That's what we pledge to do when we take the critic-ocratic oath. (God, we wish this were so. Someday maybe. When CC runs things.)

Posted by karen at October 16, 2003 8:19 AM