The Movie Club

Less Is More

Dear all,

Greetings from the New York City subway system.

I’m on a deadline for most of today and won’t be joining in until later tonight. So just a few thoughts until then.

Chris, I think our persistence in practicing film criticism despite everything that tries to make film criticism irrelevant is as far as it’s possible to get from a belief that “film-culture-and-film-criticism-is-dead.” You’re right that there are many fine working critics. And I can assure you that many of them are working without the support of an attentive editor, which you seem to have. I’m glad for any critic who has that luck. May it always be so.


I don’t feel privileged to be working in the same year with such divisive work from Mel Gibson and Michael Moore. And I think some of the Jewish critics I know who got death threats for panning The Passion might not feel the privilege, either. I can’t imagine a worse atmosphere for a critic to work in than one where film culture is dominated by movies that get those who reject them branded as “the other.” I can’t imagine movies that leave their acolytes less open to persuasion. And I know you meant this as a joke, but I think your remark that you can tell who someone voted for in the election based on how they felt about Fahrenheit is proof of what these movies wrought.

That’s all for now. Later tonight, I want to put in a word for Zhang Yimou and talk about my conflicting feelings for KBV2.