Saturday, February 6, 2010

The return of Stephen Hunter

Red-blooded American novelist Hunter retired a year ago or so from his day job as the film critic for the Washington Post, but resurfaced last summer writing an occasional movie column for Commentary.

This is what the world of criticism needs right now: a non-PC classically educated right of center counterweight to prevailing cant....

This links to his predictably acerbic piece about Avatar (which he calls "unbelievium" and the climactic scene of which he describes this way: "To me, blue Indians on flying lizards against helicopter gunships just seemed like a fool’s gold called Unwatchablanium.")

He likes "Hurt Locker" a lot -- also predictable, but a lot of fun: "At times during The Hurt Locker, a remarkable new movie about the war in Iraq, I began to wonder: Who wrote this, Thucydides or Xenophon?"

High praise, indeed.

And finally, many readers of this (Is the word "many" appropriate here?) will cheer his essay "Clyde and Bonnie Died for Nihilism", in which he rants:

...the legendary Penn movie that invented the New Bonnie and Clyde was such a ideological crock that it deserves placement in that list of other leftist crocks mistaken by gullible critics and film lovers as somehow great: Beatty’s own Reds, the appalling JFK, and the toxic oeuvre of Michael Moore and his tribe of screwball clones in the documentary field, as well as the recent spate of angry, misguided Iraq war films.

This really is not news; when Bonnie and Clyde was released and soared, following an initial few weeks of failure, the Chicago Daily News columnist Mike Royko launched a mini-crusade to restore Clyde and Bonnie to their actual dimensions, as vicious murderers, no matter that (as the ad copy said) they were young, they were in love, and they robbed banks. The only thing that mattered about them, Royko said, was that they killed, and killed a lot of people. The critic of the New York Times, Bosley Crowther, then the oldest, whitest guy in New York, also dared to denounce the film; he not only felt the lash of social ostracism and contempt, he may have even lost his job as a consequence.

I thought they were both idiots. I know better now.

1 comment:

Generic said...

Cameron and Bigelow:

(Hunter on "Hurt Locker"):

"...it feels almost too real. You feel the weight of the sand in the air, the density of the sweat bead running down your nose, the slippery frictionless flank of a pair of needle-nose pliers standing between the self and obliteration. It’s war as sensual experience."

Might be even better in 3D.