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Critical Ineptitude

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Among my numerous intellectual deficits, I’m not a very articulate film-and-TV-talking-guy like Scott, Rob, or DJW. I haven’t watched television since August, and I’ve seen exactly two films in the theater since my daughter was born almost a year ago. Both of those latter excursions (Nacho Libre and 300) were wretched, and both were seen with a colleague who will never be able to speak the words, “I was thinking of going to see [X] this weekend — do you have any interest in–” without being swatted atop his balding pate with the nearest blunt object.

Notwithstanding my bad luck and recent distance from most things cultural, I like to think I have a pretty good sense of what sucks and does not suck, even if my ability to explain why more closely resembles the idiom of Beavis and Butthead than that of my co-bloggers.

Having said that, I hope I’ll not find much disagreement that Glenn Reynolds’ favorite new film blogger must be some sort of clown:

Here’s part of his review of Little Miss Sunshine, a review the Ole Perfesser seems to find insightful in some way:

What is billed as a charming and quirky comedy is actually a painful exercise in “let’s make fun of the dysfunctional family.” If you get the impression I didn’t much like the picture, you may be right.

This one hour and 43 minute study in misery and seat squirming is the story of a truly sad family and their odyssey to make it to the youngest daughter’s “Little Miss Sunshine” beauty pageant. “Sunshine” is actually reminiscent of funnier movies, like National Lampoon’s Vacation, even down to certain plot points that I won’t give away here. But while the latter actually amused, Little Miss Sunshine simply made me want to hide my face in my hands and pray for the end credits.

As the cliche has it, reasonable people can disagree over the merits of LMS. I loved it — nine months after everyone else did, apparently — but could imagine that someone else might not. I happen to enjoy films about people coming to grips with their own limitations.

On the other hand, I don’t think any reasonable person could have this to say about West Wing:

Once every so often, you find a TV show that transcends the standard fare, and that achieves the extraordinary. For me and many others the first four seasons of The West Wing did just that. I remember one commentator being astounded that policy wonk issues could form the basis of a successful hour-long drama. But that observation misses the point. It wasn’t so much the stories that grabbed the viewer, it was the incredible pacing and dialogue. Watching a West Wing episode was not only a pleasure for those who thrive on snappy repartee, it was also a challenge. Creator-writer Aaron Sorkin paces his stories along so fast, you better pay close attention, or you’ll miss something good.

Or this:

The Shawshank Redemption would have been the best movie of the year any year. Except 1994, when it was released. That was also the year of Forrest Gump. Talk about an embarassment of riches!

“Embarrassment” strikes me as the appropriate term, but perhaps not in the way it was intended.

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