By Lisa Schwarzbaum
Updated December 29, 2010 at 03:25 PM EST
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Laurie Sparham

Image Credit: Laurie SparhamYou’d think that given my long years on the job, I’d have ready replies. But coming up with the right answers never gets any easier: When friends, or family, or neighbors with whom I’ve shared an apartment elevator for ages, or interested strangers I meet at holiday parties, or even my dentist of 25 years asks me, “What should I see at the movies these days?” I’m always momentarily stumped. I mean, I know which movies I think are good — and which movies I think are not. And I can supply a (brilliant!) critical analysis to back my opinions. But that’s not what is being asked. Not really.

The result: When faced with a request for my off-duty opinion (which is to say, a market recommendation), I shift pleasantly and agreeably to the role of consumer advocate. If you like ______ (Jeff Bridges? ’80s videogame nostalgia? Katherine Heigl?), you’ll like _______. And if you don’t like _________ (war movies? chick flicks? Katherine Heigl?), then you won’t like _______. And at the party, in the elevator, or in the dentist’s chair, I become more of a guide than a critic. Someone asks, “How’s Black Swan?” and I answer, “Delirious. Voluptuous. Mad and grand and I liked it but…how do you feel about crazy ballet movies? Because this one is nuts.” Someone else asks, “How is Made in Dagenham?” and I reply, “It’s a perky British retro labor story, starring perky Sally Hawkins, very cute and uplifting.” What I don’t say is “It made my teeth hurt.”

As for the splendid fellows pictured above, Geoffrey Rush and Colin Firth, I know exactly what to say when someone asks, “What about The King’s Speech?” The answer is “You’ll love it.” I don’t need to qualify that you can’t help but love it, because the movie is squarely (and I do mean squarely) built to be loved, and admired, and festooned with prizes. I don’t need to add that it’s a big, square, safe, royal chariot of award-type movies. There’s no need, at least not in the elevator. And certainly not in the dentist’s chair. Go, enjoy, you’ll love it.

Anyhow, I don’t think I’m alone — am I? Do you, too, fit your movie recommendations to the occasion? Or are you a philosopher of the it-sucks/it’s-great school so eloquently analyzed by astute critic Jerry Seinfeld?

127 Hours

type
  • Movie
mpaa
  • R
runtime
  • 93 minutes
director
  • Danny Boyle

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