When critics have a difference of opinion
What is the one movie you wish you could have reviewed instead of your counterpart? — T.M. Schwochert
LISA Just one? Delightful as our working relationship is, you understand, we’re hogs like all other critics about wanting to weigh in on the movies that matter to us. And the desire hits me fullest when my esteemed colleague is inexplicably soft or hard on something I think deserves quite the opposite touch. I mean, an A- for that shellacked and damp-mopped literary biopic ”Sylvia,” with its thin, cracked veneer of psychoanalysis? Yet a D for ”Bad Santa,” an anarchic comedy that incinerates all ’tis-the-season hypocrisy in a stunning conflagration of bad taste and great nerve? I honor Owen’s interesting arguments — and wish I could have set the records straight.
OWEN Ditto on the deep respect for my colleague — and my desire to right the record when she just gets it so wrong! The most flat-out misunderstood film of the last 15 years is Spike Lee’s scandalous and visionary ”Bamboozled.” Lisa, in her review, dismissed the movie as a preachy harangue, but I would have loved to deconstruct the cathartic shock value of Lee’s suck-in-your-breath-funny, let-the-N-word-fly ”Network,” in which a self-loathing executive (Damon Wayans) launches a ”new millennium” minstrel show starring the eerily exuberant Savion Glover and Tommy Davidson. Lee doesn’t just play the race card; he shuffles the entire deck of American racism in your face. I really think you missed this one, Lisa — but then, I’d say the same for virtually every critic around.
(Got a movie-related question for Lisa or Owen? Post it here.)