Despite what the title suggests, Wonderstruck represents a rare disappointment from master filmmaker Todd Haynes.
Q. Concerning "The American President," I agree with your high rating, but take exception to your saying it took courage to portray a president as a liberal. I can not remember any recent movie that shows any high-ranking political figure as both clearly conservative and a "good guy." What would have been courageous would have been for Rob Reiner, a liberal, to make the president a conservative who's cast in a good light. I didn't expect to see that happen, and guess what? I was right. The left wing of Hollywood would never let a conservative political figure be shown as anything other than a greedy, uncaring fiend. (Steve Graham, Jackson, Miss.)
Q. In the ads for "GoldenEye," someone named Bonnie Churchill of something called the National News Syndicate is quoted as saying, "On a scale of one to four, 'GoldenEye' gets seven stars!" What is your reaction to this new critical math? (Charlie Smith, Chicago)
Q. I agree that people spend too much time digging for subliminal sex in cartoons while ignoring the more blatant examples all around us. And I agree that any Disney animator caught adding such scenes likely would wind up as crocodile bait. But the key word is "caught." I recently heard an interview that animator Chuck Jones, who invented Yosemite Sam, did with Terry Gross of National Public Radio. In it, Jones described how he and other Warner Brothers animators took great delight in adding one-frame naughty bits to cartoons, then screening them on a movieola for studio execs they enlisted to "find the glitch we're having trouble with." According to Jones, the execs invariably turned purple and demanded the offending frame be removed, to which Jones replied "Oh, but it's finished, and to redo it will cost too much and besides, it's only 1/24th of a second. No one will ever see it." Jones says they did it out of sheer boredom. Kind of makes you wonder what might be written in those clouds of dust raised after Wile E. Coyote is squashed by a boulder, doesn't it? (Dave Molter, Pittsburgh, Pa.)
Q. "Seven," like many other films of the serial killer genre, has been awarded high marks by you and other critics. Do you enjoy movies about depraved weirdoes, or is it simply the craftsmanship you find so worthy of mention? Personally, I am dismayed by this type of film, if for no other reason but that to make an entertainment of torture cultivates the worst we have within us, resonating perhaps to some effect within our society. (Andrew Paquette, Portland, Maine)
Q. There's been a lot of discussion about the success of "Seven." One thing really sang out to me. The picture was written not by a committee but by a single writer, and one who obviously had some education. This is in sharp and dire contrast to the usual run of bang-bang movies in which musclemen with oiled pectorals blow hoods away with dialogue on the order of, " **** you, *******." I grew up on films written by real authors, including Hecht and MacArthur, and, like most novelists, I cringe at the "Hollywood-Speak" of so-called screen "writers." The writer of "Seven" deserves an Oscar nomination. (John Jakes, Hilton Head Island, S.C.)
Q. This weekend I saw "Seven," and I'm writing about your disappointment with the ending. I thought it was a fairly clever and creative resolution. If the writers intended a surprise, then there was little "set up" work that could occur before the viewer learned that the bad guy chose to victimize [name deleted] for sin #6, Lust. In my opinion, any greater emphasis on [that character] would have removed any element of surprise whatsoever. My only suggestion to alleviate the anticlimactic end would've been to cloud the issue by casting doubt on more of the characters (i.e., Morgan Freeman throwing knives in the darkness of his room with that scary look). I really don't see how else to conclude "Seven" than by having Pitt commit Wrath. (Greg Robinson.74743,2025)
Q. You didn't like "The Usual Suspects" because of the ending. I liked the ending, the dark atmosphere director Bryan Singer created, the acting (especially by Gabriel Byrne, Kevin Spacey and Chazz Palminteri), and the movie as a whole. The last time I had this much fun at the movies was at "Pulp Fiction." Maybe you should ask random people from the audience, because you could be the only one who didn't like the trick ending. (Mike D'Alessandro, Acton, Mass.)
Q. Is it ethical to use material in a film's trailer that is not part of the film itself? For example, in "Dangerous Minds," the trailer showed a scene at a pool hall that was nowhere to be found in the otherwise dubious film. Also, in the trailer for "Something To Talk About," in the scene where Julia Roberts stands up at her women's club and asks who else has been sleeping with her husband--in the preview, but not in the movie, someone responds by asking if kissing counts. I think this is a form of false advertising and I'm surprised the studios are allowed to do it. (William
Q. Agreed with your comment on the MPAA ratings of "Showgirls" (NC-17) and "Seven" (R). I think it was Shelley Winters who said, "If a man cuts off a woman's breast, it's rated R. If he kisses it, it's an X." -- Steven Bailey, Jacksonville Beach, Fla.
Q. Let me tell you what a local video store does to educate the public about the letterbox format. They have two screens side-by-side playing the same movie. One is letterboxed, one is not. It's a good way to show the average viewer just how much they sacrifice for pan-and-scan. -- Derrick Calcote, Memphis, Tenn.