Herald Scribes Hand-Wring Over ‘Would He?’ Allen

February 4, 2014

New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristof kicked off quite a rumpus with his Sunday piece in which Dylan Farrow accused her adoptive father Woody Allen of sexually molesting her when she was seven years old.

Dylan Farrow’s Story

WHEN Woody Allen received a Golden Globe award for lifetime achievement a few weeks ago, there was a lively debate about whether it was appropriate to honor a man who is an artistic giant but also was accused years ago of child molestation.

Allen’s defenders correctly note that he denies the allegations, has never been convicted and should be presumed innocent. People weighed in on all sides, but one person who hasn’t been heard out is Dylan Farrow, 28, the writer and artist whom Allen was accused of molesting.


Well, she has been now – Kristof posted this on his blog over the weekend.

An Open Letter From Dylan Farrow

What’s your favorite Woody Allen movie? Before you answer, you should know: when I was seven years old, Woody Allen took me by the hand and led dylan-farrow-blog480-v3me into a dim, closet-like attic on the second floor of our house. He told me to lay on my stomach and play with my brother’s electric train set. Then he sexually assaulted me. He talked to me while he did it, whispering that I was a good girl, that this was our secret, promising that we’d go to Paris and I’d be a star in his movies. I remember staring at that toy train, focusing on it as it traveled in its circle around the attic. To this day, I find it difficult to look at toy trains.

For as long as I could remember, my father had been doing things to me that I didn’t like . . .


Compelling stuff, and enough to draw two columns in the Boston Herald today.

First up: Margery Eagan, who calls the allegations “sickening.”

In the days leading up to the Oscars, we’ll likely hear that Dylan is lying, crazy or both. Or we’ll hear the old dodge of critics, that we must separate the 082003stars3man from the art. Many artists — male artists, anyway — are creeps, scoundrels and worse.

But how can we separate Woody Allen’s art from the nauseating, criminal allegations Dylan Farrow first told her mother and police two decades ago? Last night, I tried watching “Annie Hall” again. Whenever Allen appeared, I didn’t see a cinematic genius. I saw a sick, monstrous father in that dim attic with his shattered little girl.


Next up: James Verniere, who asks this question:  “Are ‘Annie Hall’ and ‘Blue Jasmine’ any less great if their creator did what Farrow says he did?”

A better question might be, should the Times have run Kristof’s column at all? That’s the one Times public editor Margaret Sullivan asked on her blog yesterday. She doesn’t provide an answer, but she does write this: “I urge those who who have not yet done so to read Robert B. Weide’s illuminating article [in The Daily Beast]. It provides essential context.”

And a good place to start.

UPDATE: Margery Eagan replies, “Better place to start Maureen Orth’s piece — Weide completely underwhelming, plus he big time in woody camp.” Possible tiebreaker: this Guardian piece by Michael Woolf.


Herald Goes Double ‘Dutch’

August 21, 2013

The Boston Herald devotes two pages today to remembrances of the great Elmore Leonard, who died yesterday at age 87.

Start with the Associated Press obituary, which begins “He was the master of his genre, the Dickens of Detroit, the Chaucer of Crime. Every novel Elmore Leonard wrote from the mid-1980s on was a best-seller . . . ”


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The obit includes Leonard’s legendary writing tip: “Try to leave out the parts that people [tend to] skip.”

In addition to that, the Herald has appreciations by James Verniere and Bill Burke.


Picture 1


From Verniere’s piece:

In terms of the films based on his work, no one compares to Leonard except perhaps another hard-boiled master, Raymond Chandler (“The Big Sleep,” “Farewell, My Lovely”), and genre masters Ray Bradbury and Stephen King. That’s the company of giants. Leonard was one.



Crosstown at the Boston Globe there’s an obit picked up from the Washington Post, and an item in Names.

But the feisty local tabloid takes this round.

Did They See the Same Movie? (‘Spring Breakers’ Edition)

March 22, 2013

The only thing the local dailies’ reviews of Spring Breakers have in common is the publicity photo they feature:

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Picture 4

Beyond that, they’re talking about two completely different movies.

Ty Burr, Boston Globe:

SB_MM_00541_rgb-1‘Spring Breakers’ is mesmerizing

I derive no small pleasure from the thought of America’s youth flocking to see “Spring Breakers” expecting — well, what you’d expect a film called “Spring Breakers” to be — and finding instead a savage assault on every empty thought they hold dear.

At first glimpse, the movie is frat-comedy business as usual: images of half-clad college kids reveling in slow motion on the beaches of St. Petersburg, Fla. But the shots are held too long and the faces are dull-eyed and grotesque; the beer tubes and bong hits and naked breasts shade from bacchanalian to robotic. We seem to have left MTV’s spring break and entered David Lynch’s.

Actually, this universe belongs to Harmony Korine, the brat provocateur whose previous movies — including 1995’s “Kids” (which he only wrote but everyone gives him credit for anyway), 1997’s “Gummo,” and 2009’s “Trash Humpers” — have enraged proper-thinking audiences and critics while building a small, devoted base of cult followers. With the nominally mainstream “Spring Breakers,” count me in. Korine wants to give us a portrait of our nation’s children — the girls, especially — as beautifully depraved sharks, pleasure-seeking killers oblivious to the comedy and horror of their existence. And damned if he doesn’t pull it off, or come close enough.


James Verniere, Boston Herald.

Spring Breakers, James Franco‘Spring Breakers’ doesn’t fulfill hip entertainment promise

If you can imagine a raunchy, MTV beer commercial, featuring music by Skrillex, bikini-clad, coke-addled Girls Gone Wild and art-movie lighting and editing effects, you have some idea of what to expect from Harmony Korine’s “Spring Breakers.” Is it trash? Or is it hip and entertaining trash?
It’s mostly the former. Because I was bored much of the time by repetitious dialogue, repeated scenes stretching already cellophane-thin material and flagrantly shallow characters, I can hardly claim to have been entertained. Hip? Well, I guess if watching pretty young veterans of the Disney Channel parade around in neon-colored bikinis and misbehave is your idea of hip, go for it, dude.


Burr gave the flick 3 1/2 stars. Verniere gave it a C-.

Go figure.

If you want a tiebreaker, you could check out this, but forewarned is forearmed – the headline/subhead is:

Startling ‘Spring Breakers’ Film Explores Sexual Coercion Turned On Its Head

Harmony Korine’s new film captures the complexities of gender, violence, and the sex-drenched scene known as spring break


Yeah, that’s what I thought too.

Boston Globe Film Critic Wesley Morris Djangoed by Mediaite

January 1, 2013

In an unusual confluence of influence, the Boston Globe and the Boston Herald both gave positive reviews to Quentin Tarantino’s new film, Django Unchained.

From James Verniere’s Herald review:

DJANGO UNCHAINEDQuentin Tarantino ‘Unchained’

Director charges into American slavery tale with guns blazing

You’ve seen “Lincoln.” Now, see the low low-down on slavery in America.

Brought to us by the much imitated, uniquely gifted and never surpassed Quentin Taran tino, the ultra-violent “Django Unchained” gives us a glimpse of a barbaric episode in American history through the twisted lenses of Tarantino and the Euro-spawned, Asian-­influenced 1960s-’70s hybrid the spaghetti Western.

In addition to a terrific and fearless Jamie Foxx in the title role, a freed slave turned gunman named Django (“The d is silent”), the film has great Austrian actor Christoph Waltz (“Inglourious Basterds”) in fine fettle as Dr. King Schultz, a silver-tongued German immigrant and dentist along with his horse Fritz, whom he introduces to strangers. Dr. Schultz traverses the frontier in 1858 in a small coach with a giant tooth on its roof. The truth is Schultz  is a gun-slinging bounty hunter, complete with a spring-loaded derringer up his sleeve. Schultz brings in fugitives from justice dead or alive, preferably dead.


Equally enthusiastic was Globe film critic Wesley Morris:

du-ac-005765_lgTarantino blows up the spaghetti western in ‘Django Unchained’

In “Django Unchained,” Jamie Foxx plays Django, a black slave purchased for about a hundred dollars and freed by a German dentist and bounty hunter named Schultz (Christoph Waltz). A straightforward treatment might have involved having the slave run away north. But the movie Quentin Tarantino has written and directed is corkscrewed, inside-out, upside-down, simultaneously clear-eyed and completely out of its mind.

Django is married. He and his wife (Kerry Washington) were savagely lacerated and separately sold. He’s not free until she is. So he works as the bounty hunter’s sidekick, with the bounty hunter agreeing to help him find the wife and rescue her from a Mississippi plantation.

Set in 1853, this isn’t a runaway narrative. It’s a run-toward narrative, rigged for shock. Each scene lays a stick of dynamite and lights a fuse that runs down and down and down until the whole thing blows up like the Fourth of July. I’ve never seen anything like this movie, not in one 165-minute sitting, not from a single director, not made with this much conscientious bravado and unrelenting tastelessness — this much exclamatory kitsch — on a subject as loaded, gruesome, and dishonorable as American slavery.


But it was only Morris’s review that got whacked on Mediaite:

django-blackBoston Globe Movie Critic Likens Django Unchained’s Villainous ‘House Negro’ To Black Republicans

In his official review of Quentin Tarantino‘s box office smash Django UnchainedBoston Globefilm critic Wesley Morris likens the movie’s villainous “house Negro” to black Republicans like Justice Clarence Thomas or former RNC Chairman Michael Steele.

The positive review largely took note of the film’s successful twisting of the Spaghetti Western genre to fit a Civil War rebellion story, with special praise for Tarantino’s script and the actors who filled the screen.

But upon praising Samuel L. Jackson for his portrayal of Stephen, the head servant at the villainous Candie family mansion, Morris invoked the names of modern black Republicans whom he believes Jackson channeled in his “black self-loathing” performance . . .


Discuss among your self-loathing selves . . .