Sunday, August 23, 2009

The critic's automatic headline

I'd like to see a moratorium on headlines using the juxtaposed-adjective technique.

For example, this headline is currently on Slate's homepage:

"Inglourious Basterds Is Brilliant and Reprehensible"
They're all too easy to write: just choose one positive adjective and one negative adjective. A third adjective (positive or negative) is optional.

Critics can also use this technique in their reviews if they want to write brilliant and reprehensible and lazy prose.


Jason (the commenter) said...

I wonder if the headline is correct. I'd better go find out.

John Althouse Cohen said...

I've started to have the opposite response.

Jason (the commenter) said...

I'll find out soon. I'm sitting in the front row right now.

John Althouse Cohen said...

Oh, I thought you just meant the headline was effective at making you want to read the review -- I didn't know you were actually seeing the movie! Cool.

Jason (the commenter) said...

I haven't read the review and wont because, as JAC alluded, it's got a boring title.

I don't think the movie was brilliant, because it's what Tarantino does. I also don't think the move was reprehensible.

If you say the movie was reprehensible you miss the beauty of it. Tarantino is representing a human truth, maybe one that society likes to pretend it is incapable of understanding, but one that exists all the same.

I liked it and found it very romantic, maybe even a good date movie.

It had subtitles and long drawn out, tense scenes which only Tarantino could make people sit through.

It had flaws, so maybe it wont be a classic, but it was still something Tarantino can be proud of.

Ann Althouse said...

What if it's a review of "The Wonderful, Horrible Life of Leni Riefenstahl"?

Jason (the commenter) said...

Althouse : What if it's a review of "The Wonderful, Horrible Life of Leni Riefenstahl"?

That film wasn't reprehensible though; and "brilliant and reprehensible" could describe any number of Tarantino films. Maybe they should have added "Again" somewhere to the headline.

Jason (the commenter) said...

Me: That film wasn't reprehensible though

Thinking about both movies I want to take that back. In a way Tarantino makes "The Wonderful, Horrible Life of Leni Riefenstahl" look like the worst movie on the Nazis ever made; a huge lie. I think it makes the Nazis look alien and strange and keeps a sense of mystery about them. Tarantino explains the Nazis to the audience and goes so far as to almost say, "I see a bit of them in all of you." It becomes all the more personal.