Third point: my snap diagnosis of what ails “joshb” is the common misapprehension — other sufferers will have their own individualized versions of it — that the job of a film critic is to express the views of “joshb.” More broadly, he believes that the job of a film critic is to be right, and that no one knows what’s right better than “joshb.” Thus, a good deal of his argument runs along the lines of so-and-so says such-and-such is A, but it’s not A, it’s A-minus. To which the most appropriate response seems to be, “Sez you!” A critic has his hands full just trying to figure out what he himself thinks. He can’t expend a lot of energy trying to placate every taste. As for the sensitivities of his readers: well, anyone who takes personal affront at an opposing opinion really isn’t ready for grown-up conversation. For certain, matters of taste are “personal,” and differences of it may be taken personally. If, for example, you’re on a first date and your tablemate confides that his or her all-time favorite film is There’s Something about Mary, you then have a useful indicator of your future together. But nothing will be served by throwing your chardonnay in his or her face. Such a clash of personalities on the page ought to be so much easier, so much less awkward, than across a restaurant table. Set the offender aside, remove yourself, don’t come back. You needn’t even wait around for the check.
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The Oscar nominations.... Oh, dear. Button, Slumdog, Button, Button, Button, Slumdog, Button, Slumdog, Button, Button, Slumdog, Button, Slumdog, Slumdog, Button, Slumdog, Slumdog, Slumdog, Button, Button, Slumdog, Button, Button. And that’s that. With Sally Hawkins shut out of the Best Actress derby (and less startlingly, Clint Eastwood out of the Best Actor), I have nothing to root for and no new reason to give the awards credence. I saw Hawkins’s excessive display of emotion at the Golden Globe podium as a measure not of how seriously she took the award — God knows it’s next to worthless — but of how seriously she took the work. Young though she is, she must have had an inkling that Happy-Go-Lucky was a once-in-a-lifetime role, whether or not she had an inkling it wouldn’t even carry her through to Oscar night. I can feel relieved that her exclusion at least eliminated the possibility of her spontaneous combustion on stage.
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Festival season opens this weekend with the sixth annual San Diego Black Film Festival, formerly the Noir Film Festival, January 29 through February 1 at the Regal Horton Plaza. You can view the full schedule, heavy on shorts and documentaries, at sdbff.com. And next week kicks off the nineteenth annual San Diego Jewish Film Festival, a nice balance of documentary and fiction, February 4 through 15, at the AMC La Jolla for the most part, and at the UltraStar Mission Valley, the Reading Carmel Mountain, and the Jewish Community Center Garfield Theatre for other parts. Go to lfjcc.org/sdjff to see what’s where, when.