I’m uncomfortable bashing a fellow film writer (except if it’s Roger Ebert), but Caryn James’ Critic’s Notebooks in the New York Times defy good logic and simple structure. In the Times today, she tackles a subject close to my heart, the films in the race for the foreign language Oscar category. But this rambling, disorganized essay is totally incoherent. What was her idea? Throw a dozen dissimilar ideas up into the air and see where they fall?
She tosses off one sentence about the Academy’s “maze of regulations” for the foreign films, but barely scratches the surface of the issue. She tosses in some remarks about overlooked entries “Cache” and “L’Enfant.” Fair enough. But the bulk of the piece is supposed to be about some commonality between the entries, and all she comes up with is something like they all deal with urgent issues and “they’re not exactly cheerful.” And this is a think piece? Wasn’t James the critic who blasted Hollywood for making political films that weren’t political enough? Where is the consistency? Where is the editor?