Friday, November 07, 2008

Tearing up Pajamas

Hey, kid, don't get too comfortable in that swing. Manohla Dargis wants a word with you. Much as I like co-stars David Thewlis and Vera Farmiga, I have no desire to see them in the Holocaust drama The Boy in the Striped Pajamas, which she eviscerates like Ilsa, She-Wolf of the S.S. in today's Times. It comes off as sub-Life is Beautiful, if such a thing as possible, and as with the upcoming Valkyrie I'm dubious about being asked to empathize with members of the Third Reich. But scornfully laying out the entire plot to put off viewers is Gestapo tactics, and I imagine the filmmakers and distributor Miramax are furious. I respect Dargis' passion, even when our tastes don't coincide, but all is not fair in love and war. Compare her elephant gun reaction to Joe Morgenstern's deftly wielded scalpel in the Wall Street Journal--he finds some pros as the movie sinks into an abyss of cons. Not that she had to find some merit in the picture, but her shouting comes off as hysterical, and there are more subtle ways to convey disdain for the storyline. Perhaps having to review this and Madagascar 2 in the same week was too much to bear.

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