Thursday, April 23, 2009

It's Easy to Be Hard

Sorry for the delay, dear readers (all three of you). I had spent the last few days finishing up a batch of movie reviews and conducting an interview for a magazine profile on a prominent director/writer with New Jersey roots.

You'll find out who it is, when the article is published in July. Here's a hint: It's not Kevin Smith and it's not John Sayles.

One of the reviews brought up one of my favorite things--pounding a movie like a chicken cutlet before dinnertime. Keep in mind that I don't go to movies actively wanting to hate what I see. If that were the case, I would be doing something else.

However, when a movie raises my ire, writing a scathing review is akin to therapy. Plus, reviews like this are usually very easy to write. Something that's so-so takes a lot of effort to dissect, as does something that's brilliant. I never want to sound like a PR agent, plus flattery gets old after a while.

Anyway, writing this "bad review" made me think of other fine examples of reviewers teeing off. Of course, anything in Roger Ebert's I Hated, Hated, Hated This Movie is phenomenal, as is anything in Mike Nelson's Movie Megacheese. Book reviews, though, can be particularly vicious. (Dale Peck, anyone?) Here are two from The NYT Book Review that I positively adore.

  1. Dwight Garner's recent review of Chesa Boudin's memoir Gringo is the kind of frothing-at-the-mouth criticism that I love. And, having reviewed this book, I agree with him thoroughly.

  2. In 2004, Joe Queenan reviewed A.J. Jacobs The Know-It-All. Queenan is so smart and so acidic and so firm in his convictions, that you can hear Jacobs' squirming. How effective was the review? Jacobs wrote a huffy essay for the Book Review in response.
By the way, can we agree that Three Dog Night was actually a pretty solid band? Yes? Yes. Good.

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