Friday, November 24, 2006

In the face of convention

OK, I know that what I should do today is talk about everything I'm thankful for and help to spread sweetness and light in the world. I sat down fully expecting to do such a thing. But now I'm annoyed so that particular post is going to have to wait for another day.

I don't mean to make this blog a continuing rant on any specific subject but Mr. Neman at the T-D just continues to get my goat. In the past few days, there have been sterling examples of what annoys me about him. First, there's the lazy use of 'we' that I've mentioned before. In his review of 'Bobby,' there's this:

"There is simply nothing intrinsically compelling about any of them, so we find ourselves bored and checking our watches with increasing frequency."

No, Dan, YOU checked your watch. We, who are reading, most likely haven't even seen the movie and so our watches weren't even close to the theater.

Then, there's the pseudo-cleverness that ends up just being kind of dumb, like in his appreciation of Robert Altman which ends like this:

"But no one quite made movies like Altman. To honor him best, we should stand around at a party talking about him, and let his microphone pick out the conversations he thinks are best."

OK, I get the idea -- sort of -- but it's expressed so badly that it ends up not really making sense.

Why does this annoy me so much? Because this is what Richmond readers are being trained to think is real criticism. But what they are getting, in fact, is lazy, bad writing. It also drives thinking people away from the T-D to read real film critics at The New Yorker or the Washington Post or really anywhere else.

Of course, there are people who would say, well, he's annoying you but you are still reading him. In fact, maybe by annoying you, he's actually making you a more fervent reader of the T-D. Actually, the exact opposite is true. I used to read the T-D Arts or Style sections cover to cover (as it were). Now, half of the time I skip over the movie reviews and -- though I like Ms. Ruggieri's writing style -- I only read the music articles if they are about an artist I have heard of (a diminishing pool, unfortunately). And theater reviews -- well, sometimes I can't find them to read them so I miss them oftentimes now too.

So, I guess in keeping with the spirit of the holiday, maybe what I should say is that I'm thankful for the website RottenTomatoes which gives me easy access to a whole host of movie reviewers who give me more insightful and clearly stated opinions on movies than what I can find in my daily paper.


Frank Creasy said...

Well Dave, you have to feel sorry for Mr. Neman. It must be a terrible fate to be a movie critic in a world where the only good movies, in his opinion, come to the Westhampton. I guess it's like being in an episode of the Twilight Zone.

Twilight THERE'S a show even Dan Neman has to love!

Anonymous said...

I think he one of those pod-people! I want to point at him and do that high pitched sound from Invasion of the Body Snatchers!!!