I want to strip this down to the essentials: I am not asking, in other words, whether Miller was pleasant company, nor whether he had healthy views about women. Put aside questions about the relationship between his writing and drinking, or whether he could have written “Tropic of Cancer” if he had been living not in Paris, but in Florida. Did he produce good writing?
With regard to artistic enterprises, I am consistently in awe of and intrigued by sheer jaw-dropping scale: the doorstop book ("Clarissa"), a film that grounds you for three hours or more ("Shoah), or the play that makes drinks afterward impossible because the bars have closed (“The Iceman Cometh”).
Alfred Korzybski, the Polish-American linguist who wrote a pioneering work on semantics, advised us to "Look at abstract words that have no definite referent - words like Communism, materialism, civilization, fascism, reductive, mysticism. There are as many definitions as there are users of these words." No shit.
Call me a snob, call me elitist, call me out of touch, call me anything you like, but I really don’t care about Tonya Harding or Hard Copy, especially on a Friday night when I’ve got a head cold and lungs full of second-hand smoke.
The appeal of the late film critic, for me, was the comfortable cohabitation of the Geek with the Intellectual. Here was a guy whose "Great Movies" list includes "Star Wars," (the first one) and "Goldfinger" alongside such films as "Cries and Whispers," "La Dolce Vita" and "Shoah."
My latest reading and viewing of King Lear, which I know better than any Shakespeare play, imparted another truth to me, and it is this: The vital task of reading Shakespeare makes it easier to appreciate the plays, but at the same time, it can also diminish them, even if the quality of the production is excellent.
There is a long, even honorable tradition of horror cinema, both in the U.S. and abroad. In the medium’s first century, the genre produced some brilliant, imaginative works. It’s also produced a lot of garbage, and it doesn’t help Eli Roth’s case that he claims to have been inspired by the worst of it.