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February 20, 2009


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S.F. Hunger

Ha, "Joseph" Morgenstern, that old dog. How long's he been around? And uh, how much longer must he stick around?

S.F. Hunger

Oh, and this sentence... "Lately I've been seeing a lot of virtual hand-wringing about how, particularly on the internet, writing about movies has devolved into writing about writing about movies."

That sentence would be, by my calculation: writing about writing about writing about writing about movies. Did I miss one? Oh, and THIS sentence would be--oh, you get the point. Did I just blow your mind?...You're welcome.

Glenn Kenny

Dude. Whoa.

Steven Santos

I have been critical of critics (particularly in the last couple of years) although I don't write about film. Admittedly, I am getting sick of film critics reviewing one another, often at the expense of actually talking about films.

That said, Glenn, I haven't actually minded that much when you did it, as you don't often dwell on it and you are primarily using this blog to talk about films, half of them I probably haven't seen yet but will do so because you wrote about them. With that balance, I don't mind. And your own writing on film backs up your statements.

However, I do feel the more common situation is that most critics who write about other critics are simply not very good and are possibly deflecting the attention from their own poor writing by trying to cut down someone else. The likes of Armond White (here we go again!), N.P. Thompson and many who dwell in the internet ocean can rail against the critical majority all they want, but they're still bad writers with little insight into films at the end of the day.

And, no, not because I don't agree with them. They just suck at what they do and are usually the types to think they don't need to improve. Which is often the telltale sign of an amateur: They don't think they have anything left to learn about what they write. They lack a certain level of curiosity, but never lack a sense of competition.

Unfortunately, we live in a culture where people often employ bluster with a heaping of arrogance to make declarations as opposed to arguments. And the internet provides countless people like this with an outlet. It's up to each person's judgment who they take seriously enough to listen to. Personally, I have very discriminating tastes as to whose writing on film is worth reading, as well as who's writing about writing about film.

Tony Dayoub

Glenn, why is Goldstein v. Dargis rearing its ugly head again. This has been going on since December!?

Glenn Kenny

Call it an oldie but goodie.


If your point is that the paragraph of Sarris's that you quote is every bit as trivial and clubby as much of the junk in the blogosphere, I certainly can't disagree. (Sarris, to put it bluntly and no doubt controversially, is not one of the great minds.) But if you mean to excuse current triviality by reference to prior triviality, count me out.

No knock at your own criticism intended -- I like your blog quite a bit.

Glenn Kenny

@topbroker: Thanks for the kind words.

You probably won't be surprised to learn that I hold Sarris in substantially higher esteem than you do. That said, my citation was meant more in the "t'was ever thus" spirit than in the interests of making such excuses as you propose.

And that said, what you call "clubby" could conceivably be more charitably termed as "factional." There's a long history of such agitations in arts criticism—names that come off the top of my head (after a long day and a, let's say, Petronius-worthy dinner, mind you) include Baudelaire and Clement Greenberg. Which, I hasten to add, is not to claim that a Baudelaire or Greenberg walks among us. Just trying to track a certain tendency, is all. For now. I'm certainly not going to make it the subject of this blog!

Dan Coyle

You know, speaking of writing about writing about movies, Jeffrey Wells' obsessive stalking of anyone who says a nice thing about Watchmen is getting really weird.


How do you define "writing about writing about movies"? Because I think the ability to respond quickly to another critic in a film-specific way is one of the wonders of the Internet. Crabby little sideswipes are a different matter, of course. But sometimes critics need to be written about. I wish than in his heyday, more people had published the fact that Crowther was a dreadful critic. Every time I encounter one of his reviews in researching a post, I cringe. Even when he liked something it was for all the wrong reasons. He had zero sense of the visual. No wonder people grabbed at Cahiers like a canteen in the desert.

Adam R.

Rather than add to the hall of mirrors discussion re: critics on critics (worst porno series ever) can I just say Sarris finding anything to praise and defend in the likes of A Countess From Hong Kong is the sort of act that makes me want to hop in a DeLorean and nuke auteurism. I watched it recently, and beyond the indestructible charms of Sophia Loren, it's abysmal.


Adam: "critics on critics (worst porno series ever)"




Clearly you haven't seen the Dorothy Parker/Vincent Canby blue loop.

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