I’m not suggesting that New Yorker film critic Richard Brody is the same kind of influential powerhouse that Pauline Kael (also a New Yorker-ite) was back in the ’70s and ’80s.
And yet earlier today a friend suggested that Brody, known for his exacting, headstrong, occasionally-composed-on-the-planet-Trafalmadore reviews, has become a Pauline-like figure. Not by design but because so many critics, he feels, are taken with Brody’s vigorous, high-toned film essays, as in “I have my own, very special way of looking at things!”
It started with a discussion of the recent Mank pushback. “I’ve been catching bits and pieces of the Mank anti-hype (the Kael thing, Oldman’s too old, etc.),” he said, “and it just seems as if the film is being demonized for…existing. It’s this year’s Movie We’re Not Supposed To Attack And So We’re Attacking It To Show Our Power.
“God, I’ve really come to loathe film critics. They’re becoming a cult of dishonest dweebs. They’re all turning into Richard Brody.”
The Kael followers of yore (David Edelstein, Stephen Schiff, Elvis Mitchell) were referred to as “Paulettes.” Could the Brody bunch be called “Brody-kins“?
“It’s all a one-upmanship game,” the friend continued. “Within a series of incredibly rigid — and, to me, tone-deaf — tastes (to the enlightened, Beanpole is a greater movie than Saving Private Ryan, whereas I thought it was trash), everyone is jockeying with everyone else to be the coolest, hippest, smartest, most exquisitely outré, and (of course) most anti-corporate, which means that you put a mainstream movie on your list at your peril.
“In a word, it’s all a big lie. Just like Tony and Manohla’s ’25 Greatest Women + People of Color Who Are Actors’ list.”