MOVIES INTO FILM: Film Criticism 1967-1970 by John Simon

MOVIES INTO FILM: Film Criticism 1967-1970

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Mr. Simon designates himself as a critic (e.g. artist, teacher and philosopher) which immediately puts any reviewer at a disadvantage in the full consciousness that his-or-her brow has slipped somewhere down around the shins. Other remarks (re Sarrisites and Kaelists whom he dismembers early on) won't endear him -- ""auteurism appeals to all quasi- and para-intellectual game-players -- its tie-in with the structuralism and semiology is evident -- while trashism. . . has great appeal as a culture-surrogate."" Often he goes out of his way to be unkind to his colleagues (apropos of almost nothing, a gratuitous filler on Mrs. Crist's self-advertising for a feminine hygiene product) and his insolent-arrogant remarks have incurred a good deal of animus all over. Contumaciously toplofty he is -- films must be reviewed as art rather than entertainment (thus Z will ultimately fall short) but one respects the criterion. Nonetheless many of the reviews are defensible and persuasive. They are divided here in groups -- i.e. adaptations (which as Stanley Kauffmann once said usually means settling for less); politics and society; youth films; musicals; sex; Hollywood; the French Film ""In Eclipse""; etc., etc. Inevitably the categories converge and is Barbarella a sex movie? Mr. Simon comes on very strongly for Bergman (a separate section) as the ""truest, most self-sustaining, least exhaustible genius of the cinema"" but also, gratifyingly, for the agreeable unpretentiousness of M*A*S*H or Rachel, Rachel or They Shoot Horses, Don't They which doesn't remove him altogether from the common viewer. He can also be very funny (Woodstock ""a mammoth mud-in""). It redeems as well as damns.

Pub Date: Feb. 24th, 1970
Publisher: Dial