Trying to get the weather report on NY1 I ran smack dab into the channel’s resident film reviewer Neil Rosen presiding over his Oscar wrap-up, dismissively referring to “Atonement” – a film I haven’t seen – as a “chick flick.” (I won’t call Rosen a “critic,” since his “criticism” boils down to declaring that “No Country For Old Men” doesn’t deserve its Best Picture nomination because, among other things, the film is “weird.”) Though Rosen may be an easy target, he touched upon something that NY Times critic Manohla Dargis hit straight on in her "A List, to Start The Conversation”:
"I doubt that most moviegoers would prefer the relentlessly honest “4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days,” which involves a young woman seeking an illegal abortion, over “Juno,” an ingratiating comedy about a teenager who carries her pregnancy to term. But I wish they had the choice. “4 Months” is aesthetically bracing, but “Juno” has easy laughs, dodges abortion quicker than a presidential candidate and provides a supremely artful male fantasy. Like “Knocked Up,” it pivots on a fertile hottie who has sex without protection and, after a little emotional messiness (and no scary diseases), delivers one baby and adopts a second, namely the man-child who (also) misplaced the Trojans. Both comedies superficially recall the male wish-fulfillment fantasies of “Sideways,” but without the lacerating adult self-awareness."
What Dargis is talking about is the glorification of the “dick flick.” No doubt there are female and gay male critics who enjoyed “Juno,” but it’s the straight male critics who are so irrationally swept away by the film, whose reviews wax rhapsodic, read like a schoolboy’s mash letter. (Is calling Diablo Cody’s script a “masterpiece” really any more clear-eyed than a woman getting weepy over “Atonement”?) While I don’t doubt that Roger Ebert put “Juno” at the top of his list because it tugged at his heartstrings, I also can’t help wondering where else it tugged.
With that in mind, let’s take a moment of silence away from all the rooting and booing to remember that it’s not who wins or loses at the Oscars tonight, but who, for better or worse, made us face our own individual reflections on the screen.