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Ray Pride

By Ray Pride Pride@moviecitynews.com

Admit it, I’m an idiot: the Trib’s new hires

Nothing like a crackerjack cultural critic getting down to the nitty-gritty right out of the gate: “Admit it,” writes Chicago “Tribune staff reporter” Jessica Reaves, “sometimes you get tired of art house movies starring actors who take ‘their craft’ very, very seriously. Sometimes you want to buy an extra-large popcorn and settle in for a big budget Hollywood blockbuster replete with entertaining explosions, undemanding dialogue and completely unrealistic action sequences. If all that sounds like gloriously uncomplicated fun,” she writes in a two-and-a-half star review, “The Guardian is your movie.” schoolforscoundrels_234.jpg And: “There are movies that burst out of the starting gate and soar along effortlessly right through the finish line. Those movies are rare, and School for Scoundrels is not one of them…” Reaves’ disappointment grows: Old School was “one of my favorite stupid movies in recent memory.” And what of Jesus Camp? “Whatever you think of America’s religious right, one fact is undeniable: They know how to make noise. And not just literal noise (although a quick visit to any worship service will prove they’re quite good at that) but figurative, symbolic noise in the form of political lobbying and outreach… If you weren’t aware of this powerful voting bloc, you’ve probably spent the past five year with your head under a rock.” (Note the demurely placed “probably,” a hacktastic feat of journalistic restraint.) Further evidence of the terrifying rigors of being a fourth or fifth string reviewer forced to take things seriously when all you want to do is sneer is heaped by one Michael Esposito, who writes of Kyle Henry‘s defiantly opaque 2005 Sundance entrant, Room: “Room is one of those films that wants to make you think. You know the kind: lots of weird stuff happens, topped off by no real resolution in the end. It may also be the longest 75-minute film in the history of cinema-there was a clock check 25 minutes in, after thinking, ‘this has got to be over.'” Surely mid-twentieth century Trib critic Mae T. Inee is rolling in her collective grave.

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“With every table in the dining room occupied and me, the only waiter, neglecting the needs of a good fifty patrons, I approached Roth. Holding out Balls as a numbness set into the muscles of my face, I spoke. “Sir, I’ve heard you say that you don’t read fiction anymore, but I’ve just had my first novel published and I’d like to give you a copy.”

“His eyes lifting from his iPhone, he took the book from my hands. He congratulated me. Then, staring at the cover, he said, “Great title. I’m surprised I didn’t think of it myself.”

“These words worked on me like a hit of morphine. Like two hits. It felt as if I was no longer the occupant of my own body. The legs had gone weak, the ears warmed, the eyes watered, the heart rate increased rapidly. Barely able to keep myself upright, I told him, “Thank you.”

“Then Roth, who, the world would learn sixteen days later, was retiring from writing, said, in an even tone, with seeming sincerity, “Yeah, this is great. But I would quit while you’re ahead. Really, it’s an awful field. Just torture. Awful. You write and write, and you have to throw almost all of it away because it’s not any good. I would say just stop now. You don’t want to do this to yourself. That’s my advice to you.”

“I managed, “It’s too late, sir. There’s no turning back. I’m in.”

“Nodding slowly, he said to me, “Well then, good luck.”

“After which I went back to work.”
~ Julian Tepper

“Any form of physical or sexual assault is a very serious matter, potentially a legal matter. But I’m also wondering, what about having some kind of “extreme asshole” clause? I know lots of people who have been abused verbally and psychologically. That’s traumatizing, too. What do we do with that?  It takes a lot of energy to be an asshole. The people I admire most just aren’t interested in things that take away from their ability to make stuff. The people I really respect, and that I’ve met who fit this definition, have a sense of grace about them, because they know that there is no evolving and there is no wisdom without humility. You can’t get better if you behave in a way that shuts people off. You can’t! You don’t have all the ideas necessary to solve something. You don’t! I’m sure if you spoke to Harvey in his heyday and said to him what I just said to you, he would believe that he accomplished all that he had because of the way he behaved.”
~ Steven Soderbergh