March 17, 2005

A.O. Scott - Turned On by Square Footage


New York Times film critic A.O. Scott not so subtly molds his review of Melinda and Melinda, Woody Allen's latest, into a polemic against the rising cost of living in Manhattan. I'll comment on a few selections:

"Lingering over dinner at Pastis...Two of the diners happen to be playwrights - perhaps the only two left in New York who could afford to eat at such a restaurant, but never mind..."
[Though Mr. Scott's copy of Zagat's is undeniably dog-eared to mark this pricey Village bistro, the bulk of the Times' national audience probably neither knows about nor cares about Pastis. This complaint about accessibility is itself quite inaccessible.]

"...Mr. Allen's Manhattan remains a fantasy world, which is both a serious limitation and a minor source of delight."
[True, but why not describe things more hyperbolically?]

"Which brings me to the real reason to appreciate Mr. Allen, which is as an unrivaled pornographer. I'm not talking about sex...These days, in any case, the kind of New Yorkers likely to see a Woody Allen movie reserve their true lust for real estate, and the long hallways, high ceilings and open kitchens on display in this movie are likely to keep local audiences sighing and moaning for the full 99 minutes."
[There we are!]

Not to discount Mr. Scott's somewhat justified concern about an increasingly yuppified NYC, but those concerns would be better reserved for the Real Estate section of the Times (which, ironically, was advertised above the film review in a banner ad). At some point, Mr. Scott crossed over from an observation in line with the conventional wisdom about the way in which Mr. Allen aestheticizes Manhattan and into the realm of bitter rant. David Denby's review of the same film in The New Yorker makes mention of said aesthetic and then carefully weaves this into an intricate and global survey of the film. It also refrains from name dropping Pastis.

1 comment:

  1. I heard a pretty "devastating" review of this movie on NPR last night, from the reviewer at Slate:

    "This is what happens when a once-vital artist stews in his own juices for too long. Comedy, drama, it makes no difference. The well they both come from is stagnant."

    Probably won't stop me from seeing the movie though.

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