June 5, 2011


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Written by: Mitch Salem

>Those interested in the disconnect between old-line film critics and audiences need look no farther than “In Defense of the Slow and the Boring,” a column in today’s NY Times.  In it, chief Times critics Manohla Dargis and A. O. Scott each write about the worth of films some find unduly slow-paced, like The Tree of Life, and that’s fair enough.  But Dargis goes farther.  Describing typical Hollywood films, she writes “If you’re entertained, or so the logic seems to be, you won’t have the time and head space to think about how crummy, inane and familiar the movie looks, and how badly written, shoddily directed, and indifferently acted it is.”  In explicating what she sees as studio contempt for audiences, she reveals her own.  When a movie truly is crummy, inane, familiar, badly written, shoddily directed, and indifferently acted, does Dargis think people find it entertaining?  Apparently so, since her Exhibit A is The Hangover Part II, which she finds “grindingly repetitive” and boring, bringing in no less an authority than Andy Warhol to buttress her good taste.  Now, no one sane would ever compare Hangover 2 to Tree of Life.  But perhaps if she hasn’t seen it in a while, Dargis should take a look at Sullivan’s Travels, Preston Sturges’ brilliant–and hilarious–statement on this issue.  The movie world is wide enough to include The 40-Year Old Virgin as well as La Dolce Vita, Animal House along with The Seventh Seal, and for some of us, a few cheap, dirty laughs are far from worthless.  Laughing at a silly comedy isn’t proof that our deadened brains have been taken over by Hollywood’s zombiemasters.  (For that, we have Pirates 4). 

About the Author

Mitch Salem
MITCH SALEM has worked on the business side of the entertainment industry for 20 years, as a senior business affairs executive and attorney for such companies as NBC, ABC, USA, Syfy, Bravo, and BermanBraun Productions, and before that, at the NY law firm of Weil, Gotshal & Manges. During all that, he has more or less constantly been going to the movies and watching TV, and writing about both since the 1980s. His film reviews also currently appear on and In addition, he is co-writer of an episode of the television series "Felicity."