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Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Season 8 of 24: All Good Things Must End

Somehow or other FOX let the word out that this would be the last season of their award winning show 24, but I only heard about it this morning on the radio. Apparently, this news was released on Friday, but I managed to miss it. No matter how it happened, it is official: this will be the last season of 24.

I checked the show’s web site to corroborate this news, and it is true, but the so called good news is that a script for a 24 movie has been approved. I guess that is supposed to make us feel better, but it is no solace for the loss of the weekly dose of Keifer Sutherland’s Jack Bauer.

In the hands of a lesser actor, Jack Bauer may have come off as a comic book hero, a guy who gets tortured, shot, and beaten, but somehow manages to pick himself up and carry on the good fight. Make no mistake, that is exactly what Jack Bauer has done for eight seasons, but Sutherland has managed to infuse this character with a humanity that makes Bauer much more than he even should be.

While in movies like Batman and Spider Man, the villains prove more interesting than the hero, that has not been the case in 24. This is not to say that there haven’t been great villains throughout the eight seasons. Some of the best bad guys have been seen on 24, most notably played by Dennis Hopper, Tobin Bell (Jigsaw from the Saw film series), and Arnold Vosloo (The Mummy). Perhaps an even better bad guy was Jack’s former friend, Tony Almeida (Carlos Bernard), who turned to the dark side after his wife Michelle was murdered.

Through it all, Jack Bauer emerged as a hero with a soul, tortured as it may be, a guy we wanted to see win despite the fact that sometimes he had to become as bad, or even worse, than the bad guys he was after. Jack descended to some dark levels, perhaps his own version of purgatory, to win the battle even though it sometimes seemed like he was losing his personal war with an old self that long vanished.

Remembering the first season, Jack was a happily married man who played chess with his daughter Kim. That brief view of domestic bliss quickly spiraled out of Jack’s control, as his daughter and wife became endangered as he tried to protect presidential candidate David Palmer (the incomparable Dennis Haysbert). The first season ended with his wife’s murder, and Jack was left to pick up pieces that had no way to be glued together.

Over eight seasons Jack Bauer has become more grizzled, more angry, and yet there is always a hint of the man we first glimpsed playing chess, the guy who really wants to have his life back, but he can’t seem to find a way to do that and not help his country. Jack is always willing to sacrifice and, because of that, he earns our respect but also we empathize with him as he becomes increasingly distanced from the person he used to be.

Season 8 started with the notion that Jack was ready to move on to the next stage of his life. He was leaving CTU behind to move back to California to spend time with his daughter Kim and his granddaughter Terri (named for his late wife), but this planned return to domesticity is once again put on hold as Jack learns of a new threat and has no choice but to get involved to help his country.

Over the years I have heard plenty of people say that 24 isn’t as good as it used to be. While those critics have some valid points, 24 still remains one of the best things to be seen on TV. Much of that has to do with Sutherland’s portrayal of Jack Bauer, and we have invested enough in him that we want to see him through to the end. In this case, it is to a two-hour series finale on May 24.

A few years ago I proposed that 24 should give up the “real time” format and employ a different type of dramatic tension, which would allow Jack more freedom and the writers too. Being locked into a twenty-four hour premise was what made the show originally so compelling, but now it seemed as if it became a hindrance, or even sometimes a contrivance. Where a show like Lost could utilize multiple characters well and flashbacks (or flash forwards), 24 was locked into the notion that each season would happen on one day.

The purists hit me on trying to tamper with the show’s format that brought it success in the first place, and I understood their feelings about that; however, I’ll bet that the 24 movie will not be in real-time. It will be impossible to do in a feature film, unless they do something like they did in the TV movie Redemption, but I think it will be a different format for Jack Bauer and company that will make it easier to market to worldwide audiences.

Still, there is no denying that 24 set the stage for television drama and was groundbreaking in a number of ways. Besides it’s unprecedented real-time format, it presented us with split-screen views of the action taking place, gave us a black and later on a female President of the United States, and showed us that our greatest vulnerability was not our adversaries but ourselves.

Jack Bauer has fought the good fight for eight seasons now. Sadly, this will be the last one, and now I will watch the remaining episodes with a deeper reverence than I might have before knowing this. It will be intriguing to see how this season ends, with the notion that Jack’s story comes to a close but will somehow move on in a film version. I think we all want to see Jack Bauer find some happiness, but we wonder if it will come on May 24 or be put off indefinitely, at least until Jack has another bad day, or series of days, on film.

Until next time, Klaatu Barada Nikto!

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Palm Sunday: The Day That Changed the World

Christians around the world celebrate Palm Sunday as the start of Holy Week, the most important time on the calendar for them. Despite all the popular excitement about Christmas, this is the week that truly defines what it means to be a believer in Christ. Church goers will witness reenactments of Christ’s arrival in Jerusalem as he enters humbly on a donkey, but is given the special greeting of waved palms and shouts of “hosanna” fit for king.

Palm Sunday begins a solemn week that marks the Passion of Jesus Christ: his Last Supper, his excruciating time in the Garden of Gethsemane, his capture and trial before the Sanhedrin (supreme council and court for the Jews), his transference to Roman Procurator Pontius Pilate, and his eventual crucifixion outside the gates of Jerusalem.

Simply put, if there is no first Palm Sunday there is no Holy Week to celebrate. If Jesus does not make a triumphant entry into Jerusalem, nothing else that follows will happen. There will be no “last” supper, no trial, and no crucifixion. Thus, in essence, there would be no Christianity of which to speak. This is the magnificent importance of Palm Sunday in the bigger picture for Christians: it is the day that changed the world.

Let us examine what happens on the first Palm Sunday. Why is Jesus going to Jerusalem on that day? The simple answer is that he was preparing to celebrate Passover. Some people forget that Jesus was Jewish, but his goal was to join many of his brethren in the holy city for the holiday, which would start with a special Seder with his friends.

This was just the usual ritual for the Jewish people of that time, but what makes this extremely important and unusual was that Jesus understood the significance of his entering Jerusalem in a humble manner. The people were excited by his return to their city. Many of them had heard Jesus before, preaching in the temple or speaking in the streets.

They were expecting the arrival of a king, but he purposely entered as any of them might on a donkey. The significance was not lost on them, and they madly waved their palms in support of his humility.

Before this moment his wave of popularity hit a kind of rock star status, with word of his many miracles and his inspirational talks around Judea reaching people in and beyond the city. Of particular significance was his raising his good friend Lazarus from the dead. Of all his miracles, this was one of the most public and dramatic displays of his powers. His reputation spread and his name reached many Jews and non-Jews alike, including the influential members of the Sanhedrin, King Herod, and the Roman procurator’s palace.

As Jesus entered the city and was overwhelming saluted by citizens waving palms and shouting "Hosanna," those people best described as his enemies were trembling in their sandals. The Sanhedrin saw him as a real threat to their religious hierarchy. Someone hailed as “King of Jews” would be a person who could not only rock the boat but capsize it.

Of course, Herod saw himself as the rightful Jewish monarch and worried about this cousin of John the Baptist, a prophet whom the king had beheaded because he also seemed to be a threat. Pontius Pilate would wonder who was this upstart; could he become the head of the zealots who would lead the Jews in rebellion against Rome?

All of these things set in motion a series of events that lead to the crucifixion. Some priests from the temple first approached the Roman procurator about their fears. They wanted to execute Jesus for heresy, but under Roman occupation they had no authority to exact such punishment. The Romans told them Jesus was a Jew; therefore, he was their concern. Of course, that doesn’t mean the Romans were not watching Jesus and ready to do something if necessary since the holiday was fast approaching.

By the time Jesus sat down for Seder with his Apostles, for what would be his “last” supper, one of his own had struck a deal with the Sanhedrin. Of course, Jesus already knew this, and he told Judas to go do what he must do. Judas was amazed that Jesus encouraged him and quickly left the group. It was then that Jesus revealed to the eleven, who would be the first priests of his church, what became the ceremony of the Mass, the changing of bread and wine into his body and blood.

Later that evening in the Garden of Gethsemane, Jesus would beg his father to let the cup pass from his lips, but he came to understand what must happen and allowed himself to be arrested, taken for trial before the Sanhedrin, and eventually brought to Pontius Pilate, who would have him crucified. He was placed in a tomb and the story should just end there, but Christians believe that three days later the stone before the tomb was rolled aside, and Jesus was resurrected and the story was only just beginning.

All of these events happened because of what occurred on the first Palm Sunday. A simple man who owned just the cloak on his back rode a borrowed donkey into a big city, the only big city he ever visited in his lifetime, and he was hailed as a king and a savior by the citizens. It was a brief moment in time and happened more than two thousand years ago, but its significance can still be felt today.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Biden's F-Bomb Is No Laughing Matter

Vice President Joe Biden apparently thinks it is funny that an open microphone caught him using an expletive when speaking with President Obama. This obviously unscripted moment came during the signing of the healthcare bill on Tuesday at the White House. Mr. Biden introduced the President and, leaning away from the cameras and microphone, was heard in a not too careful whisper to say, “This is a big f&^%ing deal.”

Of course, Mr. Obama kept on smiling, approached the microphone, and acted as if Biden had said nothing untoward. I can understand the President acting as if it were no big deal, considering the importance of that moment, but on Wednesday Mr. Biden proceeded to joke about the matter when speaking at a fundraiser for the Democratic National Committee in Baltimore. He even went so far as to say that the President told him that his comment was “the best thing” about the ceremony on Tuesday. Oh really?

We cannot be sure if Mr. Obama said those words to Mr. Biden, but we can be certain that Mr. Biden used a curse word because the microphone picked it up. It is disconcerting to think that the second most powerful man in American doesn’t only believe that it is okay for him to curse on national television but that it is also funny.

I know what kind of language is used on the street. Growing up in New York City, I heard everything and learned what those colorful words meant at an early age. Despite having that knowledge, I did not think it was proper to use those words when I came in off those streets. I did not use them at home and certainly not in school or later on in life in a place of business. It became quite clear to me that curse words had their place, but it was also painfully apparent that some of the people using them liberally were not very aware of that fact.

We can be certain that Mr. Biden understands the nature of cursing, and he must also know that doing it on national television at the White House is not appropriate. What message is being sent to the general public, to people in other nations around the world, and more importantly to the children who may have heard him? Is it that cursing is okay? Will kids start thinking, “If he can speak that way to the President of the United States, can’t we speak that way to our parents and teachers?”

Some of you probably think I am making a big deal out of the Vice President’s faux pas, but I think it is rather important because this impropriety may not just be a slip of the lip. It could just be that Mr. Biden believes he is better than those he serves, that he has some kind of inalienable right to use street talk wherever he pleases, and that he can get away with whatever he wants.

Many of us can remember a similar arrogance coming from Dick Cheney, the former Vice President who was also older than President he served. Like Biden, Cheney provided embarrassing moments, including the famous hunting accident that almost cost someone his life. Mr. Bush seemed unable to deal with Mr. Cheney’s behavior, and it’s starting to seem like the same thing is happening with Mr. Obama and Mr. Biden.

What should Mr. Obama do? I do not think a public chiding is in anyone’s best interests, but Mr. Obama has to call Mr. Biden on this. As a father of two young daughters, he must tell Biden that this kind of language is not appropriate for public discourse, then Mr. Obama should close the Oval Office door and read Mr. Biden the riot act. Should he tell him to shape up or ship out? Yes, I think it is that serious and Mr. Obama better handle it now rather than later.

Cursing has an undeniable place in American culture, and we can hear these words being used around us more frequently. Formerly inappropriate words are snaking into network television shows. Maybe no one cares that words like “pissed,” “suck,” and “asshole” are being used and kids are hearing them, but it certainly bothers me. The parental controls on our television sets do nothing to stop this torrent of inappropriate language heading our way. We know what we can expect on cable TV, but it is becoming clear that broadcast television networks, in order to compete, are becoming more and more permissive in hopes of getting better ratings.

This means that we have to draw a line somewhere. We need to be more cognizant of how we talk around others. We need to show our children how to respect people, and the language we use is part of that. Most of us want to teach our children well, and I don’t think we have yet descended to a place where cursing is acceptable in all situations, and I hope that it never comes to that.

At this point in time it is still inappropriate for children to curse like drunken sailors on shore leave. Also, it is not okay for the Vice President of the United States to curse in public and to do so with impunity. He should hold himself up to a higher standard, realizing that what he says is not just a flippant use of the F-word but something that is going to be recorded and that makes it forever.

Maybe Mr. Biden isn’t thinking about his legacy and the history books, but I am certain that if he does that he wouldn’t want to be remembered as “the salty talking” Vice President under Mr. Obama. I believe he wants to be known as a man who made a difference in the lives of others, and he can start by being a good role model to all, especially to children who are impressionable. We should expect more from him, and now the question is can Mr. Biden expect more from himself?

Friday, March 19, 2010

Season 8 of 24: The Princess and the Slog

Well, we are halfway through season eight of 24, folks, and it feels like it has been a long slog already. There have been some exciting moments, most involving Jack when he gets to still be Jack (and these days that hasn’t been too often), but it has been slow going for the most part, kind of like a walk through the mud in Army boots.

Still, if you are like me, and waiting for a mole to pop or an attack on CTU, then you should be happier than Helen Thomas asking her one hundred thousandth question at a White House press conference. Last night’s episode brought a bomb within range of Chloe and the rest of the denizens of the security agency. KA-POW!! Talk about an episode going out with a bang.

Kayla Hassan (Princess Jasmine), daughter of increasingly difficult to figure out President Omar Hassan (Anil Kapoor), is in a fog of love. She is in love with her father’s security guy Tarin (Aladdin on steroids), who is bad but not really bad but eventually very bad. She can kiss him a hundred times, but this frog isn’t ever going to be turning into a prince, unless it’s a prince of darkness. After a little hanky and lots of panky in a Manhattan hotel, Bad Aladdin takes her prisoner and brings her to the Amir (Jafar) and his Forty Thieves.

Agents Jack Bauer (Keifer Sutherland looking remarkably unmarked by all that has happened thus far) and Cole Ortiz (Freddie Prinze Jr.), who seems to be thinking, “I’m like Chico and Jack is like the man,” are heading toward the hotel to rescue her, but in keeping with 24 tradition, they are always five or more minutes “out” or away from being there. A bullheaded NYPD sergeant refuses to wait for Jack because he says, “I’m on the ground,” and sooner than he can say “terrorist” he is on the ground all right: and dead. After eight seasons, when will they start listening to Jack Bauer?

Meanwhile back at the ranch, investigator Prady (played by a wild-eyed Stephen Root) is on Dana Walsh’s case (Katee Sackhoff), and you have to wonder when the hell the writers will just pull the plug, but the misery of this storyline continues. I am not sure if it is to get Cole all rattled in the field when Dana calls him on her cell and tells him “It’s all over,” or whether they want Prady around to spice things up in CTU. But when Jack tells Cole to get his head in the game, you can see him getting serious again and we hope he can keep that head on his shoulders.

Before you can say “Abracadabra,” Bad Aladdin brings Jasmine to an old bank vault where Jafar and his minions are waiting to make her a prized turkey. On a video feed sent directly to Hassan, they put her in a chair, blindfold her, and eventually put a plastic bag over her pretty head. Jafar demands “File 33” from the hapless Hassan, who watches with his wife in horror. By this time Jack has made his way to Hassan's hotel room and is standing there too. Jack has seen this all before and he’s like, “Can we check out ESPN?” Since Hassan and his wife are really upset, instead they try to figure out what File 33 is.

Of course, Hassan knows but makes one of his stooges bring it up on the computer anyway. Jack checks it out and, faster than he can say “wet list,” Jack knows it’s a file that Hassan shouldn’t have and nobody else should either. There is some Gobbledygook about it compromising USA security, but it may just be a list of Hassan’s favorite places for ribs in Karachi. Either way, Jafar isn’t getting it and that means Jack has to get to Jasmine before it’s too late.

Meanwhile, Bad Aladdin finds a way to escape the clutches of the evil Jafar with his princess. Lacking a magic carpet (which would really be useful to avoid the streets of New York), Bad Aladdin grabs a set of car keys and tries to make off with Jasmine. Jafar shoots him dead, but she manages to drive away with Jafar shooting at her. What an unbelievable escape (maybe a little too unbelievable?). The last thing Bad Aladdin tells her before he kicks the bucket is to get to CTU because it’s the only safe place. Ah, what a sweetie that guy is even in death!

Back at CTU the boss Hastings (No Neck), Chloe, Arlo, and the rest are all trying to follow up on the boys at the bank. Dana has pried herself away from Prady’s maniacal hands (he seems awfully hot to find this farm boy turned bad that happens to be Dana’s ex-boyfriend) and helps them in the crisis. Chloe establishes that Bad Aladdin is escaping with Jafar, which is about as likely as saying Robin Williams wants to star in Mork from Ork: The Sequel. No Neck is busy munching on some cold shrimp and can’t believe his eyes, and Jack is like, “Are you sure he’s not dead?” After Tony Almeida, can anyone ever really be dead on 24?

Jasmine is driving around the streets of New York like a tourist who is trying to find parking to see The Lion King, but Chloe does her best to steer the frantic princess right toward the tunnel that leads to CTU’s door. Heavens to Betsy (or is that to hell in a hand basket?)! Jack is listening to all this and starts thinking, but he is too far away to help because he is once again “out” trying to get “in” but the hour is almost over.

Of course, Jack realizes, as only Jack can realize anything when everyone else about him is looking for answers, that since Bad Aladdin snagged a ride with Jafar, the only possible explanation is that they wanted Jasmine to escape and seek refuge at CTU, along with the car. It turns out that the car is carrying something bad (the mother of all bombs known as an EMP or an electromagnet pulse device) that can knock out all electrical systems faster than you can say “Thomas Edison.” Jasmine is pulled from the car and dragged into CTU, and everyone else starts a dash for safety.

As the bomb is ready to explode, No Neck starts running for his life and screaming “Security! Security!” Watching No Neck run and yell like that is probably the funniest moment during the whole season. He looks like an old lady who just got her purse snatched at MACY*S. Okay, a rather big old lady with no neck. Anyway, I knew good old Bubba would bring some kind of humor to 24; too bad he didn’t bring some more Bubba Gump Shrimp with him for the cast and crew.

At the end of the episode, CTU is in shambles. All systems are down, and Jack mumbles to himself like he has done for eight seasons now. The poor guy still can’t get the people who should know better to know as much as he does. Ah, cruel world! Jack tells Chloe that the terrorists have taken out CTU and that she must call the NSA (and then maybe Dominos for a pizza; it’s going to be a long night).

Episode twelve marks the halfway point in the season and, as it does in this episode, something usually happens that sets the table for the last twelve shows. If the promo for next week is any indication, things might be getting juicier. The voiceover tells us that with CTU knocked out, only one thing stands in the terrorists’ way: Jack Bauer. God help Bad Aladdin, Jafar, and all those damn terrorists, and thank God for us, the viewers. It looks like Jack is finally back.

Until next time, Klaatu Barada Nikto!

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

A Pint on St. Patrick’s Day

Somewhere out in a pub, an old friend
Is hoisting a pint to his whiskered lips;
I’d say his hair must be going gray now,
As he counts the change at his fingertips.

Long ago we went from pub to pub,
Singing and laughing as we went;
Those were our carefree, single days:
No wife, no kids, no jobs, no rent!

Alas, those times ended; we parted ways,
But we always promised to stay in touch;
Yet life has a way of twisting pledges,
So now I don’t hear from him too much.

I don’t hold a thing against him;
Hey, he and I, we are the same;
Life just has a way of taking over;
I know there is no one to blame.

So at home on this night each year,
I lift a pint and think of him;
My dear old friend, we had fun, so
I sip my stout with a wide grin.

Many years hence, we will be gone:
Our bodies cold in the dark ground,
But at some ethereal and eternal pub,
I’ll be buying him another round.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Bloggers Accused in the "Death" of Film Criticism

Well, ladies and gentleman, it has come to this: blog writers are being accused of causing the “death” of film criticism. At least that is what author Thomas Doherty, a professor of American studies at Brandeis University, tells us in his article “The Death of Film Criticism,” in the February 28, 2010, issue of The Chronicle of Higher Education. It seems that Professor Doherty is all riled up about the “viral salon of bloggers and chat-roomers” who have taken over as film critics. He laments, “In cyberspace everyone can hear you scream.” Indeed.

At this point in time and space, it seems almost ridiculous to have to defend bloggers, or blogging, or any other thing about writing that happens on the Internet, but here we go again. Of course, as in any other venue, there are those who do a better job than others, but it is obvious that the stodgy “old guard” feel we are rattling their cages. Their sacred Ivory Tower is slowly but inevitably teetering toward obsolescence, but that’s what they get for making academia such a breeding ground for ostriches in the first place.

Professor Doherty notes that film critics used to have “the ballast of traditional credentials,” meaning they had to suffer through university courses being taught by individuals who followed a narrow focus to get their terminal degrees in film studies and then wanted to transfer that same limited awareness of field and subject matter to their unsuspecting students. How many film course students, myself included, had to suffer through viewings of The Red Shoes, Un Chien Andalou,or Battleship Potemkin, we can never know, but none of us has anything to lose but our chains. Vive la Revolution!

Doherty’s “bleak diagnosis for the ink-and-paper crowd” echoes the cries we hear from publishers and editors of printed matter. Daily newspapers, magazines, journals, and books are all in competition with electronic versions that are quicker and more accessible for many of today’s readers. With things like Amazon’s Kindle, Barnes and Noble Nook, and Sony Reader Pocket Edition available, it would seem that Doherty rightly notes that “the writing is on the digital wall.”

Please understand that I love books. I enjoy sitting in a chair with a log on the fire reading a favorite novel, and I hope that experience is something everyone can enjoy for many years to come. I also like to read regular books to my children, and I don’t imagine ever using an electronic device to do that. There is an enjoyable intimacy in turning a page, feeling the paper and connecting to the printed word, that is almost akin to putting a needle on a vinyl record, but that’s a different story about another fading experience.

In this article Professor Doherty goes into an abbreviated history of film criticism from Carl Sandburg (yes, the poet), Siskel and Ebert, The New Yorker’s Pauline Kael, The Village Voice’s Andrew Sarris, and Vincent Canby of The New York Times, among others. All of this is meant, it seems, to strengthen the argument of their meaningful contributions to the “the long tradition of discerning film criticism in America.” While, obviously, there are some movie goers who think that these critics had or have some sort of magic wand necessary to declare a film worthy of viewing, happily, many people do not.

In looking back at these famous names, or thinking of any video or print film critics presently active, I cannot remember one time I have failed to see a film because of anything they wrote or said. I am sure many of you feel the same way. Nothing is going to stop most people from seeing the film they want to see, whether it is Avatar, Hurt Locker, or an animated film like Up. Bloggers have long known this while the “old guard” (whom Doherty tells us see “the newbies as semiliterate troglodytes who prowl the viral veld grunting out expletives”) and their progeny either does not know or does not care what the general public wants.

Doherty hails all these past and current voices for their contribution to the tradition or canon of film criticism, and then launches into his harpooning of the blogger sharks who seem to come up on his radar in the 1990s, calling them “a different kind of termite art burrowed into the house that film criticism built.” Well, my dear Professor Doherty, your termites have shaken the foundation of that austere domicile at this time, so better tip-toe around while getting a glass of water.

I am proud to be a blogger, and I will have Professor Doherty know that I do a great deal of reading (of both printed and electronic material), and I have great respect for the written word in general. When I am preparing an article, I do careful research and make sure of sources before I start writing. I have read many fine articles online, some of which are just as scholarly and researched based as anything in print.

As for my fellow bloggers who fancy themselves as film critics, most of them have a deep sense of passion and an abiding feeling of respect for the movies they review as well as their readership. Bloggers do not write condescending reviews for people looking down from the Ivory Tower, but rather for those of us who are looking up at a screen in a movie theatre.

Doherty reveals his true feelings (and obviously his fears) when he says, “the wide-open frontier of the blogosphere allowed young punks who still got carded at the multiplex to leapfrog over their print and video elders on user-friendly sites with hip domain names.” Blog writers are not an affront to his education or experience; rather, he sees them as a threat to his very existence. He calls these writers “punks” as if they were heaving eggs at an oncoming city bus, but in essence what they are really doing is exposing the festering and irrelevant world that Doherty is defending and his irrational hope of saving it.

As in any case when one thing surpasses another, there are those who will mourn its demise. I am not against film courses in universities, but the professors who teach these courses are not the keepers of all things holy in film past or present. Professors and pundits and everyone in between have to realize that the voice of the people is just as important, maybe more so, than anything else in a medium that is based on percentages of people attending the theater. They also have to give those people credit for not only knowing what they like, but for being able to recognize what they think is a good film.

Many years ago in Annie Hall, a film that maybe the old guard and many of today’s blogging critics would agree is a classic, Woody Allen’s character warns Annie not to take any course that includes Beowulf. As a high school student seeing that film for the first time, I laughed out loud in the theater and many other people did too. The point Allen made is significant here because it is those same people from academia who rammed Beowulf down our throats who wanted to make us sit through The Battle of Algiers or The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari.

Bloggers write about things they like and things they assume other people will or will not like. While some of them have degrees, they are unlike the traditional critics of today or the past in that they have no allegiance to anything or anyone. The tenured professors, those up for tenure, and all those guys getting paid to crank out reviews for the print publications or television stations feel the heat from the blog furnace. Even Doherty realizes this when he notes that “the writing is on the digital wall.”

I will continue to write movie reviews in my blog, and am thrilled that I can do so without worrying about owing anything to anyone other than writing well about a movie I liked or did not like. Someday, if someone wants to pay me to do that, I’ll accept the remuneration as long as I can continue writing what I see as the truth.

Doherty tries to be amusing when he ends his article, reverting to what he feels is supposedly the blogger language: “The demise of that tradition of film criticism would really suck,” but he actually hammers home the truth because the only thing that “sucks” is his ranting and raving about a battle that has already been lost.