A couple of Sundays ago in the L.A. Times seasoned critic Stephen Farber praised The Help in a curious way. Rather than shrugging his shoulders and going easy on the fact that it’s a safe middlebrow film, Farber doubled-down and praised it for that. “Hmm, middlebrow…good!”
Appalled, Mark Olsen went to his LA Times editors and asked to write a retort. In so doing he managed to praise Amigo, Bellflower, The Color Wheel, Dennis Hopper and quote Neil Young. Here‘s what he wrote.
Olsen pull-quote #1: “The retort to Farber’s position is simply and obviously this: Today is not 50 years ago…and the best films should aim to reflect that with a clear-eyed awareness in their context and perspective and a strong reach for more.”
Olsen pull-quote #2: “The problem is not with the middlebrow in itself — and really, a film such as Bridesmaids likely represents the true New Middle more than The Help — the problem lies with opting for the obvious and becoming complicit with the incurious. Aiming for the middle is too often an excuse to aim too low.”