David Elliott

David Elliott's Final Column

Squonkins: Where were you in all my 28 years reviewing in San Diego? You arrive so late at the party, like a guy who sat in his car furiously scribbling (urgent thoughts curl around the edges) while the discussion happened elsewhere, and yet still remains constipated with ideas so feverish that no amount of response could ever relieve the infernal pressure. Sorry, I cannot provide the enema you need, but in sympathy I will offer a few replies to your complaints (and weirdly grudging praise), and to dress them up as our "debate" I will include fussy-pedantic numbers: 1. My piece is not an analysis of The Reader, though you are free to draw out implications. 2. Hit fever as a media fixation began in the '70s with Jaws, Star Wars, etc.; my favorite of that bunch was Close Encounters of the Third Kind. 3. The old movie series (Charlie Chan, Thin Man, Martin & Lewis etc.) were hyped but were never pressure-cooked events in the modern manner. The media machinery for that was not then in place.. 4. Of course serious filmmakers continue to do artistic work and smart, crafty entertainments. Look at my lists in the article. 5. I am not a tech-phobe and I have welcomed good digital work (like the Melies scenes in Hugo). Nobody who owns DVDs (I do) is anti-digital. But like Geoffrey O'Brien I realize that the passing of celluloid is an aesthetic sea-change, that we are losing something cherished for something as yet unproven (and very heavily hyped). 6. I have supported many documentaries. Nine are mentioned in my piece. My favorite film last year was Buck. 7. I never felt stymied by a "conservative environment' at the U.T., but like most other staffers suffered from managerial panic infected by growing philistinism. 8. It isn't the duty of a movie critic to preach his political opinions. Anyone who reads my work can tell that I am a humanist and often liberal. 9. Your spitballs about my judgment of movies like Munich, The Haunting, etc. show a rabid zeal to maintain old, tired grudges -- about movie opinions! I would have to dig up those old reviews to offer detailed defense, in the context of their time. Once again, you are coming very late to the party. 10. Anyone who falls down to whining about 'spoilers' in a review is, frankly, a baby. 11. Are you one of those boring cranks who needs a critic to polish the mirror of you own opinions? You can do that vain buffing yourself. 12. Good luck, and goodbye.
— June 17, 2012 3:02 a.m.