In the upcoming weeks you'll be seeing my byline in NOW's movie section and I just wanted to set the stage as I get ready to assume some duties as film critic.
First - and extremely important - please note that the decision for me to take on film assignments came weeks before the sudden death of our great film critic John Harkness. In no way should my appearance in the section be construed as an attempt to replace him. We know that no one really can.
Too, obviously, my voice will be very different from Harkness's or anyone else who writes film for NOW. I have an upfront feminist bias and a very different life experience from my colleagues. Emblematic of these differences is the fact that, where the Coen Brothers 2007 release No Country For Old Men appeared on every NOW critic's top 10 list last December, I found the film dull, pointless and wrong-focussed.
I do "get" the Coen brothers and their off-centre take on American violence. I appreciate their fondness for very annoying characters and I'm a huge fan of Barton Fink. But I couldn't find anything about No Country to interest me. While every one else - including NOW with a cover story - is celebrating Josh Brolin's performance, I found it hard to root for him or hate him, mainly because the script tells me exactly zero about him as a man. And as for his terse dialogue, I'm one of those women who thinks "laconic" is just a euphemism for stupid. Tommy Lee Jones, as the police officer following the money from a drug deal that went south, is the guy who matters, something the Coen Brothers didn't seem to figure out until the last scene, and by then it was way too late for me.
FYI My choice for best film of 2007? Across The Universe.