110814986193067861

i was really upset when i found out elvis mitchell was leaving his post at the new york times; he was definitely one of my favorite reviewers there. his, more or less, “replacement”, manohla dargis, has been irritating me ever since. in a “conversation” w/ newly appointed head writer (and apparently old friend) a. o. scott in the nytimes soon after the replacement, dargis mentioned that having more women critics in the world is desirable for the simple fact that it immediately provides a different viewpoint from the majority of other reviews. i would agree in general. however, since then dargis has proven that although this may be true in general, it’s only true if said reviewer offers up her/his “different viewpoint” objectively and w/out ever resorting to soapbox pontificating.

there are so many examples of reviews that have irritated me. one of the first was her review of the sequel to bridget jones. first, she does the tired gimmick of writing her review in the style of the movie. second, in it she barely bothers to talk about the movie at all; instead she rambles on and on about zellweger as celebrity, not as actress. which might be interesting to some people in an essay, but which is incredibly out of place in a movie review.

i disliked her review of elektra for similar reasons. the review is dismissive w/out any real analysis, other than a general dismissal of female superheroes. she obviously hasn’t done her research, as she blatantly and incorrectly denies the long history of well-developed female superheroes in comics (who regularly outsell their male counterparts, not b/c they’re female and their audience is male, but simply b/c they’re more interesting characters) as well as neglects mentioning any female superheroes in recent movies (catwoman, the x-men movies, or what about even kill bill?). again, it seemed like dargis has her own female-centric agenda which has little to do w/ writing a fair review.

her review today of bride and prejudice is similarly unenlightening. the fact it’s a romantic comedy must have damned it from the start, b/c her review is so vague that it could easily have been written w/out actually seeing it. i get immediately suspicious of reviews that are so concerned w/ being hypercritical that they don’t even deign to answer the basic question: “yes, it’s fluff, but is it fun? is it -entertaining-?”

the last straw for me was an article she wrote for the sunday edition a few weeks ago which basically could be summed up with the phrase: “plastic surgery is fake.” why do we need to be told this? since dargis resides in LA, this strongly sounded like a personal issue she wanted to spout off about rather than b/c it was anything relevant or new.

to be fair, dargis, when not haranguing about her view of females in cinema ad nauseum, writes decent, if not fascinating, reviews (such as of the lemony snicket flick, and hide and seek). if she could just be a reviewer first and get over the fact that she’s female then maybe she won’t give the rest of us so many reasons to roll our eyes and throw down the arts section in disgust.

elvis mitchell: we miss you! xx

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