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March 25, 2007


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Abe Goldfarb

It's the gargantuan "no DUH" factor that does her writing in for me. She picks the most spectacularly unprovocative subjects possible, regurgitates a quick precis of prior comment on whichever one is at hand, and ends with a pithy and obvious final sentiment (I really like the article she wrote about how Brad Pitt is, like, super famous and married and stuff and acts in moviefilms). That's the James formula, and if you look back at ANY of her work for the Times, twas ever thus.

It's half-thought-out whiffle pieces like hers that make film writing seem as disposable as it often does and never should. This is the sort of article that can be banged out in an hour or two to satisfy a space requirement in Arts and Leisure, and I suspect that's why she's kept around. Heaven forfend worthier people and films that require a bit more legwork should get the ink.


I second Abe's analysis while adding smugness to the mix, with the extra ingredient making her totally intolerable. I am very happy to read people who I sometimes disagree with but express an idiosyncratic view in lucid and vivid language, for instance Hitchens, Anthony Lane, Hunka, and Abe himself! But dear James is writing puff pieces that snipe as if to make them sound more heady.

Of course my eternal frustration with Arts & Leisure is often I'll see what might be a really interesting think piece, and almost always it doesn't end up going very far. Although I think A.O. Scott and M.D. have a better batting average than the other big NYT arts critics nowadays.


It's a lot like a college essay. Properly formatted and overly edited.
Much modern journalism isn't written like that these days.
It's too formal and it's almost as if she had completely removed herself from the piece of writing.
Yup. Annoying.

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