Several big-name reviewers sniffed at Snow Cake, a Canadian film about a gloomy ex-con named Alex (played by Alan Rickman) who forms a (non-romantic) bond with an autistic woman named Linda (Sigourney Weaver) in a tiny whistle-stop near Winnipeg. Some dump on Rickman for being gloomy; others scold Weaver for taking on a no-makeup role that requires her to act like a four-year-old; still others mount their high horse and intone that autistic people don't act that way.

I beg to differ. Rickman is one of the few actors who can light up the screen with the merest hint that perhaps he might smile. Weaver draws on her inner child, including the one that throws tantrums, in a surprisingly convincing way - and since every autistic individual is different, and the screenwriter Angela Pell has an autistic son, I wonder where the high-horse critics get their expertise.

And finally, Snow Cake contains a killer-diller blindside blow, one of the most shocking I have ever seen. (Lately this is a preoccupation of mine - see two entries below.) I won't tell you where or when this hits, but it is staggering in a way that makes perfect sense out of (almost) everything else. I could criticize two or three things about this film, but withal, it has more class and integrity than most of the big-budget bullies getting all the attention.

(I am so happy to have used the word "withal." Part of a campaign to revive really useful but moribund English words.)

September 26, 2007 7:53 AM |



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Like all chart categories, "country" is an arbitrary heading under which one finds the ridiculous, the sublime, and everything in between. On the sublime end, a track that I have been listening to over and over for the last six months: Wynnona Judd's version of "She Is His Only Need." The way she sings it, irony is not a color or even a set of contrasting colors; it is iridescence.

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Does Miles Davis belong in the Rock 'n' Roll Hall of Fame? Here's my take on his career ...

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Attention, high school jazz listeners ...

more trax

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Painter of light (and darkness) ...

Dissed in Translation 

Here's my best shot at taking Scorcese down a few pegs ...

Henri Rousseau Revisited 

"Henri Rousseau: Jungles in Paris" appeared at the National Gallery of Art in Washington this fall ...

Paul Klee's Art 

Paul Klee was not childish, despite frequent comparisons between his art and that of children...

Our Art Belongs to Dada 

Rent my "Dadioguide" tour of the Dada show (before it moves to MoMA) ...

more picks


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This page contains a single entry by Martha Bayles published on September 26, 2007 7:53 AM.

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