Thursday, January 18, 2007

Two Thumbs Up

One of the best things about The New Yorker is film reviewer Anthony Lane who knows how to deliver the proverbial “thumbs down” with a verbal wit and style that I always read in a British accent.

His current target (in the Jan. 22 issue) is the Renee Zellweger vehicle “Miss Potter,” although it’s poor Ewan McGregor who suffers most the barbs from Lane’s pen. (IMHO, McGregor deserves a lifetime pass for slogging through all three “Star Wars” sequels—excuse me, prequels—when it was clear after the first that he would be acting without a script.)

In “Miss Potter,” McGregor has the role of publisher and suitor to the titular character. Lane wonders why the actor accepted the part in the first place, considering the following material: “We shall give them a bunny book to conjure with.”

Writes Lane: “Only one man on earth can speak those words with a straight face, and that is Hugh Hefner. Needless to say, McGregor takes emergency precautions, appearing throughout in a mustache the size of a yew hedge, and thus defying us to work out whether his face is straight or not.”

The job of a movie reviewer seems glamorous, but is frankly a thankless one. If you disagree, think for a moment about wasting precious hours of your life viewing “Jackass II” and then even more time writing about the dreadful experience, only to have readers skim through your sweat-stained prose looking for the final grade or number of stars.

Lane doesn’t churn out stars or grades, just smartly turned phrases and insightful comments that sparkle on the page.


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