The Year in Movies

Requiem for Capt. Hook
Critic vs. critic.
Jan. 9 2004 7:50 AM

The Year in Movies

VIEW ALL ENTRIES

David,

I love your take on Peter Pan, and though it doesn't yet make me retroactively enjoy the film, I think you're totally right about P.J. Hogan's ambition and the interestingness of that ambition, and you've convinced me to give it a more open-minded second viewing. I want to say more, but first I'd like to hang my head for a moment in chick-critic shame. There's nothing like speed writing with no time to consider or revise and then getting stuck traveling all day on Amtrak with nothing but time to mull over one's own rhetorical excess. After being too harsh on men who were too harsh on Jane Campion (Neanderthal is a loaded, uncool word to use), I turned around and dumped too harshly on Tarantino (revealing my own tendency to want to squash what troubles me like a bug?). Aargh, self!

Advertisement

Anyway, might I like Peter Pan more with someone besides Jeremy Sumpter—so insipid beside the very alive actress who plays Wendy—as the boy who wouldn't grow up? I think so. And I'm curious, given your theory about Hook ending up as Peter Pan's playmate, what you make of the way Pan finally defeats him. He leads all the little kiddies in an insulting anthem that crushes Hook's spirit. Something like, "You're old! Alone! And all washed up! Old! Alone! And all washed up! Old! Alone ... etc." The kids get all giddy and whipped up and triumphant as they repeat it. I can't help but wonder about this, the climax of the film. I mean, sure, it's intellectually interesting to make more explicit the primal, dangerous subtexts of fairy tales, but the audience for this film is 6- to 8-year-olds. Call me square, but do you really want to teach kids that being old and alone are grounds for scorn—even for a kind of fun sadism? Maybe this is where you see Lord of the Flies come in. In this context, though, it strikes me as emotionally coarse.

I haven't seen Looney Tunes or Duplex, but you do make me want to see Duplex. Unfortunately, I did see Steve Martin in Bringing Down the House, in which he plays a stale-archetype repressed guy opposite bug-eyed prison escapee Queen Latifah, who is used like an appliance to perform a variety of useful functions—practice sex mannequin, nurturing mammy to his children—all so that he can get his wife back, and lots of money. This may be my worst movie of the year.

Also David, you laid down the ambivalent point of view on Elephant beautifully. I'm with you there, in the middle of all those question marks.

Manohla, just got your post and must absorb. But briefly, even if you didn't swoon over American Splendor, do you take heart from Hope Davis' character: the abrasive, neurotic, and adorable Joyce Pekar? In terms of women on film, I mean. I thought Davis was wonderful, although her charisma almost overmatched that of Paul Giamatti's Harvey.

Best,
Sarah

Each year, film critics gather in the "Movie Club" to chew on the year in film. This year's group includes Manohla Dargis from the Los Angeles Times, David Edelstein from Slate, J. Hoberman from the Village Voice, Sarah Kerr from Vogue, and A.O. Scott from the New York Times. Hoberman is the author, most recently, of The Dream Life: Movies, Media, and the Mythology of the Sixties.

TODAY IN SLATE

Justice Ginsburg’s Crucial Dissent in the Texas Voter ID Case

The Jarring Experience of Watching White Americans Speak Frankly About Race

How Facebook’s New Feature Could Come in Handy During a Disaster

The Most Ingenious Teaching Device Ever Invented

Sprawl, Decadence, and Environmental Ruin in Nevada

View From Chicago

You Should Be Able to Sell Your Kidney

Or at least trade it for something.

Space: The Next Generation

An All-Female Mission to Mars

As a NASA guinea pig, I verified that women would be cheaper to launch than men.

Terrorism, Immigration, and Ebola Are Combining Into a Supercluster of Anxiety

The Legal Loophole That Allows Microsoft to Seize Assets and Shut Down Companies

  News & Politics
Jurisprudence
Oct. 19 2014 1:05 PM Dawn Patrol Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s critically important 5 a.m. wake-up call on voting rights.
  Business
Business Insider
Oct. 19 2014 11:40 AM Pot-Infused Halloween Candy Is a Worry in Colorado
  Life
Outward
Oct. 17 2014 5:26 PM Judge Begrudgingly Strikes Down Wyoming’s Gay Marriage Ban
  Double X
The XX Factor
Oct. 17 2014 4:23 PM A Former FBI Agent On Why It’s So Hard to Prosecute Gamergate Trolls
  Slate Plus
Slate Picks
Oct. 17 2014 1:33 PM What Happened at Slate This Week?  Senior editor David Haglund shares what intrigued him at the magazine. 
  Arts
Behold
Oct. 19 2014 4:33 PM Building Family Relationships in and out of Juvenile Detention Centers
  Technology
Future Tense
Oct. 17 2014 6:05 PM There Is No Better Use For Drones Than Star Wars Reenactments
  Health & Science
Space: The Next Generation
Oct. 19 2014 11:45 PM An All-Female Mission to Mars As a NASA guinea pig, I verified that women would be cheaper to launch than men.
  Sports
Sports Nut
Oct. 16 2014 2:03 PM Oh What a Relief It Is How the rise of the bullpen has changed baseball.