Inside Llewyn Davis
"Inside Llewyn Davis" is the most satisfyingly diabolical cinematic structure that the Coens have ever contrived, and that's just one reason that I suspect it…
I received this message on the blog, but it obviously fits no known topic. The author is something of a mystery: "R. Crutch," no city, no e-mail. But I felt it necessary to share with you. RE
We critics can't be too careful. Employers are eager to replace us with Celeb Info-Nuggets that will pimp to the mouth-breathers, who underline the words with their index fingers whilst they watch television. Any editor who thinks drugged insta-stars and the tragic Amy Winehouse are headline news ought to be editing the graffiti on playground walls. As the senior newspaper guy still hanging onto a job, I think the task of outlining enduring ethical ground rules falls upon me.
Blind people develop a more acute sense of hearing. Deaf people can better notice events on the periphery, and comprehend the quick movements of lips and sign language. What about people who lose the ability to speak? We expand other ways of communicating. There are three ways I can "speak." I can print notes. I can type on my laptop, and a built-in voice says them aloud. I can use my own pidgin sign language, combining waving, pointing, shrugging, slapping my forehead, tracing letters on my palm, mime, charades, and more uses of "thumbs up" and "thumbs down" than I ever dreamed of.
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Another path is open to me in the age of the internet. I can talk with new friends all over the world. Writing has always been second nature to me, as satisfying in a different way as speaking. Maybe because I was an only child with lots of solitary time, I always felt the need to write, and read. I was editor of my grade school, high
On Oct. 16 I published a review of "Tru Loved" in which, at the end, I noted that I stopped watching after eight minutes. I also published a blog entry, "Don't read me first!" discussing that decision and reporting that it horrified my editor, who wondered if my action was immoral. The entry has so far drawn almost 500 comments. I have read them all. I have arrived at some conclusions.
How it happened in the first place. I began viewing the movie on a DVD and taking notes. At what turned out to be the eight-minute mark, I paused the disc, looked at my notes so far, and thought, "There's my review right there." The movie had left me not wanting to see more.
Why I waited until the end of the review to reveal I had stopped after eight minutes. The review reproduced my thought process while arriving at my decision. My editor, Laura Emerick, thought I should have come clean at the beginning. I thought that would have made the review anticlimactic. There is a top-down structure to a lot of shorter prose that correctly places the payoff at the end. I always try to close my reviews with some kind of punchline, sometimes very serious, instead of letting them dribble off into the ether.
by Roger Ebert
by Roger Ebert
If you ever intend to read my review of "Tru Loved," please read it now. This is so essential that I'm taking a risk by posting this blog entry on the same day the review goes up. The review brings into focus a belief that is at the core of my critical approach. I have cited it many times. Please forgive me for repeating it. As the critic Robert Warshow wrote, "A man goes to the movies. The critic must be honest enough to admit that he is that man." In other words, whatever you saw, whatever you felt, whatever you did, you must say so. For example, two things that cannot be convincingly faked are laughter and orgasms. If a movie made you laugh, as a critic you have to be honest and report that. Maybe not so much with orgasms.
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If you reached the end of my "Tru Loved" review, you found that I stopped watching at about eight minutes. How did this discovery make you feel? My editor, a wise and expert woman who has saved my ass many times over more than 20 years, was horrified.
The politically corrected postage stamp seen atop my "Thank You for Smoking" blog entry has inspired readers to create or forward versions of their own. Send your own PhotoShops to us at answerman AT gmail DOT com.
This stamp honoring Bette Davis was issued by the U. S. Postal Service on Sept. 18. The portrait by Michael Deas was inspired by a still photo from "All About Eve." Notice anything missing? Before you even read this far, you were thinking, Where's her cigarette? Yes reader, the cigarette in the original photo has been eliminated. We are all familiar, I am sure, with the countless children and teenagers who have been lured into the clutches of tobacco by stamp collecting, which seems so innocent, yet can have such tragic outcomes. But isn't this is carrying the anti-smoking campaign one step over the line?
Depriving Bette Davis of her cigarette reminds me of Soviet revisionism, when disgraced party officials disappeared from official photographs. Might as well strip away the toupees of Fred Astaire and Jimmy Stewart. I was first alerted to this travesty by a reader, Wendell Openshaw of San Diego, who wrote me: "Do you share my revulsion for this attempt to revise history and distort a great screen persona for political purposes? It is political correctness and revisionist history run amok. Next it will be John Wayne holding a bouquet instead of a Winchester!"
The great Chicago photographer Victor Skrebneski took one of the most famous portraits of Davis. I showed him the stamp. His response: "I have been with Bette for years and I have never seen her without a cigarette! No cigarette! Who is this impostor?" I imagine Davis might not object to a portrait of her without a cigarette, because she posed for many. But to have a cigarette removed from one of her most famous poses! What she did to Joan Crawford in "What Ever Happened to Baby Jane" wouldn't even compare to what ever would have happened to the artist Michael Deas.
By Roger Ebert