Ever watch Shark Tank? I kind of like it, despite the obnoxious sharks. I happened to notice some of the strange fashions they wear. For example, Lori Grenier wears dresses that outline her boobs. The color pattern outlines the bottom of her breasts for some reason. She has dozens of dresses that have this pattern and I can’t figure out why she feels the need to put her breasts in everybody’s face. We get it; you have a good figure. But you also have some personal dignity, yes? Even though she does sell some tacky items on TV, I don’t think she is a tacky person. She seems like a decent, intelligent person with a strong  business sense and she seems to do very well. So why dress like a daytime stripper? Just wondering.

And what about this criss-cross look?  It looks like she’s wearing her bra on the outside.  Not that there’s anything wrong with that.

And then, there are the fake-figure dresses.  The idea is that if you paint a slim figure on your dress in two-tone colors, no one will notice that you are chubby. Not to say Lori is chubby, but I can imagine this on the heavier set.  BTW, from the waist up, it looks like a lobster bib… not a sexy look!

Mourning Joe

Morning Joe

I don’t understand this show. Why does the camera sit squarely facing Morning Joe as his partner, Mika, tilts toward him at an odd angle?

Part of the answer may be that they’re not exactly partners, but that Mika is a sidekick. I am aware of the optics of talk shows where the host sits at a desk and the sidekick sits on the couch on an angle. But this is the only news program where the two “anchors” sit akimbo. The visuals are very odd. In fact, sometimes she turns in a complete 90° angle so that she is in profile. She is not as tall as Joe, so that doesn’t help either.

When I first viewed this show, I found it very puzzling. It looked as if the woman is pretty obsequious to the man, in terms of both body language and in the way she defers to his comments.  She may begin an argument, but Joe kinda talks right over her and she yields very quickly.  She acts very much as a second fiddle; she gazes at him as if he’s some sort of News God and she is just a visiting Girl Scout whose principal responsibility is to fawn at his wonderful words of wisdom. She sits too closely to him, so when she turns to genuflect, she goes into full profile.  It is an attractive profile, but please.

Later, I found out that she is the daughter of former National Security Advisor Zbigniew Brzezinski.  How odd. That connection alone commands respect in the world of politics and government.  Does she need a job this badly?

She frequently talks over Joe to be heard in a somewhat passive aggressive way because the guy never shuts up, of course, but in a manner that weakens her presence by acting as a supplicant to him.  It is not good for her image, it is not good for the viewer to watch this on-camera lowering of self-respect. She seems a bright, capable anchorwoman and doesn’t need to be under his largess.  I wish she would take over from Elaine Quijano, the truly awful anchor of CBS News, whom I watch on streaming media. Yikes.  The queen of flat affect! More on her later.

Mika channeling a showgirl.

Horrible Manohla

Just read another terrible review from Manohla Dargis. It is about an Israeli movie about a divorce. Her first word is that it is “hypnotic,” but soon we find out that the movie has few courtroom dramatics, is “dialectical,” and comes across as a “debate.”

Soporific, yet gripping (?)

If that doesn’t sound like a non-cinematic snoozer then I don’t know what does. In the world of criticism, the word “hypnotic” usually indicates the audience is spellbound, but it seems that her ongoing usage problems lead her in the opposite direction. She means “hypnotic” in the literal, medical sense, as a soporific.

But wait.  Her ultimate conclusion is that this movie “makes for a gripping cinema from start to finish…” Okay, that makes absolutely no sense.

Oh, I’m sorry: hypnotized, I didn’t finish reading her sentence. As in the past, Ms. Dargis ends her own sentence by tailing it with “almost implausibly so” as an ultra-convenient hedge. She seems incapable of choosing a criticism without then deconstructing it almost immediately. So first it is horribly boring, not unlike a barbituate, but in the end it is “gripping cinema,” yet, jeez, that sure seems implausible even though she just said it. Which is it, Manohla? You can’t have both.

If your idea of film criticism is that the criticism itself should be oozing with ambiguity, leaving the reader stuck to the paper, I think you should consider another business. Your goal as a journalist, as opposed to a theorist, is to let your readers know whether to see or not see this film. These reviews are of no help whatsoever. To constantly say it’s good, yet it’s bad, or it’s not that good, yet there are some bright moments… is to leave me, the reader, with a giant question mark over my head.

This is of no use to your readership, the movie-going public. I think you may prefer teaching at a university in a liberal arts program where ambiguity is embraceable. A good review can certainly discuss the movies inherent ambiguities, but a conclusion is still warranted. For example, “despite all of its flaws, this movie is well worth seeing.”  Fine, then I’ll decide. Ultimately, the reader will take responsibility to decide if they generally agree with the writer’s review or they don’t. For many years the critics Peter Travers and Elvis Mitchell were very trustworthy. Many people happened to agree with their judgments a large percentage of the time. You will never reach a position like that as a reviewer, because I, and perhaps others, don’t know what you said! This would be called “bad writing” in my view. One could almost say that by hedging your bets so consistently you’re merely trying to protect your job. And you have done so. It’s only your hundreds of thousands of readers who have suffered while you maintain your career. How sad.