If the just announced Palme d’ Or winner at Cannes “4 Months, 3
Weeks and 2 Days” went mano-a-mano at the box office with “Knocked Up,” Judd Apatow’s new comedy about sexual mores, which
do you think would win?
Here’s a hint: the former has been described as “a devastating Romanian film on back-alley
abortion and daily despair in the communist era.
I find it very thoughtful of the people at Disney to ask
film critics not to reveal the plot of “Pirates of the Caribbean:
At World’s End.” Thoughtful because I doubt if a single critic, myself
included, has any idea what the plot is, not just of this installment but the
previous two, and their request gives us an excuse not to have to try to
I’d just watched Lars von Trier’s “The Boss of It All” (it
opens locally May 25), which is almost Capraesque in its idealism and optimism,
at least compared to the Danish director's other perversely nihilistic, black comic works. So I
was surprised to learn that the notorious eccentric and prankster had suffered
a paralyzing bout of depression so bad that he might quit directing.
Film critics are the spotted owls of journalism. They can
only survive where people respect subtlety, art, depth, meaning, originality
and tradition in movies. The steady progress of million dollar studio marketing
machines and the decline in audience taste and patience -- call it Global
Dumbing -- have wiped out most such environments.
A mini debate has raged of late about the future of film
criticism, and the fact that only film critics seem interested in it suggests
that the future is grim. Nonetheless I plan to weigh in on the topic in the near
future, but before doing so I’d like to point out that behavior like that of John
Boonstra, former film critic for “The Hartford Advocate,” does not make that
future any brighter.
I never read Alice Sebold’s novel “The Lovely Bones” about a
14-year-old girl in Pennsylvania who posthumously observes the progress of the
investigation into her rape/murder, but I was intrigued when Lynne Ramsay, the uncompromising Scottish
director of “Ratcatcher” and “Morvern Callar" signed up to adapt it.
I might have been a little harsh in assessing the late
former MPAA head Jack Valenti’s legacy a couple of postings ago, but at least I
didn’t accuse him of being responsible for the Virginia Tech shootings. We’ll
leave that for David Thomson in the Guardian film blog where the esteemed critic and author of "The Encyclopedia of Film" claims Valenti’s favoring violence over sex in the ratings system contributed
to the atmosphere of violence that resulted in the murder of 32 people.