Devotional: October 1st
Reviews. Donchajustluvem? Basically, a review is nothing more than a fancy opinion offered as fact. Despite the alarming salaries that people are being paid to review things, they are also, just as alarmingly, often so wrong. Reviewers forget that they are not working with right and wrong, but more so with personal taste. They feel strongly that their personal taste is worth something so they foist it on us, the American public, and make a tidy living doing so.
New York magazine critic, David Danby, called Tom Cruise just another "standard issue baby-faced actor" in 1983, intimating that he would be nothing more than a bit player. In 1940, Dorothy Thompson of the New York Herald Tribune wrote that after watching a certain movie she "left the theater in a condition bordering on nervous breakdown from this remarkable nightmare." The horror of a film she was reviewing was none other than Disney's Mickey Mouse cartoon Fantasia.
John Simon wrote in New York magazine of Woody Allen's Annie Hall, "Woody Allen has truly under-reached himself. It is a film so shapeless, sprawling, repetitious, and aimless as to seem to beg for oblivion." Guess it was Simon's opinion that swayed the Academy of Motion Pictures, which gave Annie Hall the best picture Oscar for that year. He said of Dianne Keaton, who used her role in Annie Hall to propel her career, "Not so much an actress playing a role as a soul in torment crying out for urgent therapy, in bad taste to watch and an indecency to display."
But then, this is the same man who called Liza Minelli in Cabaret, "Plain, ludicrously rather than pathetically plain." Simon once wrote about Barbra Streisand, "I cannot accept a romantic heroine who is both knock-kneed and ankleless...short-waisted and shapeless, scrag-toothed and with a horse face centering on a nose that looks like Brancusi's Rooster cast in liverwurst. She cannot conquer our impression that, were she to collide with a Mack truck, it is the truck that would drop dead." Flattering words for a movie icon whose success must have galled Simon.
Such are reviewers. They are brash and possess a bravura that defies logic. And often they are remarkably wrong. Josh McDowell was once a reviewer. He had openly stated that he felt the Bible to be a compilation of fiction rather than the word of some omnipotent being. So he set out to prove it. The result was the blockbuster book, Evidence That Demands A Verdict. Guess he finally got the review that the Bible gives of itself. "All scripture is given by inspiration of God and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness." 2 Timothy 3:16 That's a review that's right on.
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