I’ve said his writing “had the density of Hart Crane poems” and that I was exaggerating “only a little.” That’s because I was recalling his column in the Chicago Sun-Times, when he roved the art galleries reviewing photography shows. (He had been the film critic of the Chicago Daily News before it folded, but that slot at the Sun-Times was already filled by Roger Ebert.)When he went on to USA Today as its film critic and still later to the San Diego Union-Tribune, it seemed to me he was forced to simplify both the complexity of his ideas and the density of his prose. (No surprise.) David Elliott is back now with a new blog: Flixnosh. He writes differently these days, less elaborately than I recalled, but he still knows how to turn a phrase and, more important, his intimate knowledge of movies may well be peerless.
Here’s a taste from his review of “45 Years” …
Forty-five years ago you could never have imagined Charlotte Rampling and Tom Courtenay as a couple. She was a Euro-queen of haughty seduction (The Damned, The Night Porter), he was a plain Brit playing men of small chances (Billy Liar, One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich). She was one glittering step down from Catherine Deneuve, he was one humble stop over from John Hurt. …Time has crumbled these fine faces, but Courtenay remains masterfully subtle (only Alec Guinness surpassed him) in his vulnerability. Rampling is a chalice of elegantly mature nuances.
… and from his review of Michael Moore’s “Where to Invade Next”:
It is too easy to zing Moore for shtick like the flag, for glib interviews and facile clips (the perfectly stupid Rick Perry moment is a marvel). … Moore, the spark from Flint, is not a documentarian but an argumentarian — he stokes arguments, or (in this case) nudges one along. Can he really expect this blithe, wandering editorial to rouse a nation of 322 million, currently afflicted by ideological toxins? What he drives home is the homeland insecurity of an imperial America often acting provincial, in which a polemical approach like Moore’s can seem almost sophisticated.