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April 2, 2002

The New Critic, Redux

Laid up in a charming sanatorium in the mountains of Davos with a feisty case of tuberculosis, the New Critic himself could not finish polishing this week's column, which he has thus left in the always capable hands of his vast workshop, though all work here presented has passed under his watchful eyes and bears his unreserved stamp of approval.

I.

I'm just average, common too

I'm just like him, the same as you

I'm everybody's brother and son

I ain't different from anyone

It ain't no use a-talking to me

It's just the same as talking to you.

Ne'er the less, this column I got

With space to fill, ideas to trot

Out on the page, for you to read

To delight and please, inform indeed.

But don't forget, the words aren't mine

'Cause in this new age, authorship's declined.

That is to say, it's nearly gone,

Fallen away, and we're just pawns

In a straight game that's bigger than us

When words ain't owned, there's no need to fuss.

So don't get sore, and I'll unfold

Some reviews here, my story'll be told

II.

High Crimes (2002)

Production Company: New Regency Pictures, 20th Century Fox Film

Those Involved: Directed by Carl Franklin, written by Joseph Finder and Yuri Zeltser. Stars Ashley (Tyler Ciminella) Judd (a vegetarian); Morgan Freeman (not a vegetarian, though is left-handed); James Caviezel (Catholic); Amanda Peet (not a vegetarian, has large teeth)

Filmic Category & Other Designations: A mystery, perhaps even an investigative quest story, a meditation, that is, on the will to truth, as it oozes into everyday life

Comments: A highly extracted story with a tightly wound core of musky, expressive, maudlin characters that leaves the audience longing for the notes of gunpowder that so penetratingly imbued the Alex Cross mysteries with highly layered amounts of muscle and richness.

General Qualities: Within its crystalline precision and nicely delineated plot, this movie hides a ramrod of a madcap insight, thus managing to be fairly dense without being weighty.

Color: A chocolately depth that combines nicely with the typically thick waves of purples and grays.

Beginning/Ending: Bursts open like a soft and creamy sparkler with salty, rancio licks, before becoming vibrantly vinous, finally giving way to a finish of extravagant length and intensity.

Other Descriptors: While beginning to show signs of oxidation, as manifested through the underlying, yet not unhidden, lean style and minerally backbone, High Crimes manages nonetheless herbaceous, chewy character (making for a hedonistic diversion of delicacy and fizz).

Suggested Accompaniments: Given the metallic sheen of much of this film, something simple and macrobiotic would be best, perhaps wild rice with tempeh.

The Sweetest Thing (2002)

Production Company: Columbia Pictures Corporation, Konrad Pictures

Those Involved: Directed by Rog Kumble (writer of Cruel Intentions) and written by Nancy M. Pimental. Starring Cameron (M.) Diaz (likes wind, along with shite and onions); Christina Applegate (has a penchant for crap, or rather, spiritual guidance); Parker Posey (remember when she made good movies); Selma Blair (I don't think she ever made good movies); Jason Bateman (I feel like I might have known him at one point)

Filmic Category & Other Designations: Inverted and edgy dating/wooing/manner comedy

Comments: The intense impressions of treacle, pecan, and sandalwood you may have hoped for are not to be found in this musty-barnyard of a movie.

General Qualities: Despite a well-integrated dose of sweet toast, the jarring, aperitif-style of this movie calls to mind a tightly wound and attacking does of briar fruits. Luckily the wood character is well in the background through much of this work.

Color: At times inky, occasionally chartreuse, rarely vibrant: Most Certainly Not A Kaleidoscope Of Colors!

Beginning/Ending: Gently framed, this movie opens with the enticing sweetness of crushed velvet. Such illusions are quickly shattered as the initial dazzling glamour devolves into rustic endeavor that is marred by an overwhelming sense of pine tar.

Other Descriptors:

Suggested Accompaniments: Given the waxy aromas that this film may or may not emit, some sort of vegetable dish may do the viewer well—think leafy greens and yellow beans.

III.

Well that concludes my work today

I think I'll go fight Cassius Clay.

Upon reflection that seems like

Puttin' my head in a barrel of spikes.

So instead, I'll leave you with this,

A final verse, 'fore I'm dismissed

Now you're probably wondering by now

Just what this song is all about

What's probably got you baffled more

Is what this thing here is for.

It's nothing

It's something I learned over in England

*The bookending verses of this poem and this column are respectfully excerpted from Dylan, Bob's "I Shall Be Free, No. 10."