Feb 5 issue. The little things. Denby, Collins, Friend and Schjeldahl.
Lauren Collins strikes a nice balance in her "Tables for Two." Seriously. Of course this column as a column is tiresome and annoying and of course I read it. But she's more descriptive of the food itself than other reviewers have been and I've got a weak spot for restaurant reviews that try to like the food but can't. Sometimes "Tables" seems like fluffy verbal acrobatics of the worst kind. Not here. Good spleen.
Just opposite, Schjeldahl's sophisticated stab at Aitken's "Sleepwalkers"
is also lovely. As in "very public and undoubtably art, but it knits the terms only notionally."
Say it to yourself aloud. As in "frenetic didos."
As in "How melancholy is it to be gainfully employed and goregeous in the city?"
Very good spleen.
Finally, there is Friend on Sarah Silverman
. Now, everything I know about Sarah Silverman comes via The New Yorker
. I've never seen or heard from her elsewhere. But if she really, truly manages this - Sarah’s crowd punishes sexual indeterminacy: when she suddenly decides that she’s a lesbian, everyone scoffs. "As a lesbian, I resent your laughter,” Sarah says. “And all laughter.” Is the joke about identity politics? Lesbians? Or is it on us: So you think lesbians are humorless?
- then she falls, however briefly, in the brilliant category. I love this move, though it's pretty common among the brilliant. The brilliant, bitter and repressed.
Denby on the Nadar documentary
threw me for a loop, though. "The filmmakers give equal time to critics of Nadar [...] who deride him as a deluded egoist eager to take votes away from Al Gore and John Kerry, and to Nadar's supporters, who present him as [...] utterly consistent in doing what's best for the country. We are free to make up our own minds. So be it."
OK, if you say so, Denby. But then this statement is followed by, "The long interview with Nadar that is dispersed throughout the film suggests that he became, in later years, a thoughtless man who believes only in himself."
I feel like we're missing an "however" at the beginning of the sentence or a "to this viewer" (ugly but necessary) after the suggests or maybe this sentence need only come before the statement, "We are free" etc? If the interview footage makes a persuasive argument then the preceding claims for the film's neutrality become meaningless.
But it's not just a little odd, I think Denby misses the opportunity to really address one of my favorite issues in contemporary documentary, the exhibitionist/celeb documentary and how it's a very common strategy to use a long, dispersed interview to let the subject shoot themselves in the foot and thus make up the minds of the audience for them, but act like you're not. In a sophisticated and politically complex documentary filmmaker kind of way, of course.
Labels: collins, denby, friend, newyorker, schjeldahl