2004: The Year in Movies

Putting Posturing Pundits in Perspective
Critic vs. critic.
Jan. 5 2005 12:37 PM

2004: The Year in Movies

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Certainly the Internet—on which any blowhard can build his or her own soapbox—has encouraged a slew of posturing hipster-critics (and, to be fair, a good many really smart, genuinely iconoclastic ones). But I've just finished Stephen Greenblatt's brilliant piece of speculative scholarship, Will in the World—an eye-opening treatment of the society that fed Shakespeare's plays, poems, and sonnets. And here's one cherce bit quoted by Greenblatt that puts our own critical stylings in perspective, a passage from pamphleteer and sometime critic Thomas Nashe on the subject of "upstarts" like the young William Shakespeare:

Indeed it may be the engrafted overflow of some kill-cow conceit, that overcloyeth their imagination with a more than drunken resolution, being not extemporal in the invention of any other means to vent their manhood, commits the digestion of their choleric encumbrances to the spacious volubility of a drumming decasyllabon.

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Methinks our own kill-cow conceits have a somewhat more euphonious decasyllabon.
David

David Edelstein isSlate's film critic. Scott Foundas is a film critic for LA Weekly. Christopher Kelly is a film critic for the Fort Worth Star-Telegram. Wesley Morris is a film critic for the Boston Globe. A.O. Scott is a film critic for the New York Times. Charles Taylor is a film critic for Salon. Armond White is the film critic for the New York Press. Stephanie Zacharek is a film critic for Salon.

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