An Open Letter to The New Yorker and "Film Lover" DAVID DENBY
My letter to the New Yorker. refering to this review:(HERE)
Dear Big City Folks,
Regarding David Denby's review of "V for Vendetta" Posted 2006-03-13.
Well, at least I'm entertained. Film criticism seems to be becoming a wondrously bizarre effort to merge sophisticated taste and observation with a genuine disgust for epic grandeur, high drama or allegorical storytelling. I find movie reviews are more often filled with the Hollywood back story and the political intrigue of film production than real criticism.
It's hard to discern whether some critics have actually viewed the movie in question. It's my guess that those that have might be easily distracting themselves by the pale glowing light of their electronic phone/computer/notepad of choice, in which they may be furiously jotting and scribbling witty thoughts, points of critique and one liners, lavishing the object with more attention than they did on the girl they first took to the back of the balcony during that showing of American Graffiti back in '73.
The Love of film for poor Mr. Denby seems a jaded love, far too polished with the bitterness of endless viewings, the contempt of sinking standards and the somberness of a weary prostitute for whom sex is a chore and sensuality is a lie. Does a film hold no joy within its own context for Mr. Denby? Is each film just a sad minion in a line of thousands he will view each year?
Your reviewer lavishly spends time expounding on the history of the overly praised graphic novel and Alan Moore's Thatcherism paranoia. He bemoans the intellectual hypocrisy of Guy Fawkes as a cultural icon for the embodiment of rebellion and exposes obvious and supposedly criminal similarities to Orwell's "1984." He points righteously to the clearly random or at least backward design of any modern political references that those silly Matrix Boys imply and condemns the bankrupt moralities of this "dunderheaded pop fantasia that celebrates terrorism and destruction."
As a question, "Thank you Mr. Denby, but how was the Movie?" seems as pointless as asking Mrs. Lincoln whether or not she enjoyed the play.
As for the actual movie in question, we do learn that Hugo Weaving "is merely formal and condescending" in comparison to James Mason's acid wit, which someone forgot to mention to Mr. Denby has long since departed this realm of existence with its owner.
We learn that "The movie has an elaborate visual design." (Ok, he liked the look.)
Mr. Denby notes that "V jumps out of the darkness, and his mask—mocking and immobile—spooks us every time.....The violent passages, with steel knives flying through the air and turning end over end, are as uncanny and beautiful as similar scenes in The Matrix." (Ok, he liked the action.)
"There's a big drop in excitement every time V and little Evey discuss life and art in the shadow gallery, but, all in all, James McTeigue seems just as skilled as the Wachowskis in putting together a large-scale movie." (Ok, he didn't like the 'talky bits,' as much as he liked the 'fighty bits' but it worked regardless.)
So what does Mr. Denby think of the movie? Past the gratuitous exposition, through the flimsy but positive film critique, Mr. Denby lets us know there never was a chance to begin with because "there's no getting around the fact that this allegedly antifascist work lusts after fire and death."
Well, as I said, I'm entertained. Not only by the way your film reviewer skates completely away from film criticism and into the world of high-minded morality, but by his ability to so twist film critique as to leave it devoid of any passion for film itself. Like the Joan Rivers of reviewers, he's standing outside the theater complaining about the director's fat butt.
Has ego become so entangled with critique that the review has become a vessel for the judgments of vulgar and loveless killjoys, so they can spread disdain and indifference for anything less bold then Fassbinder or Bergman?
Only a "literal-minded prig" like Mr. Denby would know for sure.
Jared Lucas Nathanson