Subject: The Forgotten Mendelsohns
From: Matthew Mendelsohn
Date: Wed Mar 15
Stacey Grover writes:
I demand a regular daily fix of these
fabulously witty siblings. How did so much
cleverness end up in one family?
To which Andrew Mendelsohn replies:
I often wonder that myself. And you haven't
even heard from the rest of us yet!
I have to agree with my brother Andrew. I've been feeling like Zeppo Marx all week. I think Slate should host a Breakfast Table with the forgotten Mendelsohn brothers. Jennifer, Eric and Daniel can host a discussion about gay culture while Andrew and myself discuss biotech stocks. You'll learn more with them but you'll make more with us.
Subject: I Want To Be Mr. Mendelsohn
From: Jay Mendelsohn
Date: Thu Mar 16
"Not Bryan Winter" writes:
I want to be adopted into the Mendelsohn family. Is Jennifer accepting random marriage proposals?
To which Jennifer Mendelsohn replies:
At this time, I am otherwise engaged and not accepting random marriage proposals, even from multi-millionaire comedians. However, if you skip down a few posts, you will see that it's been suggested that I star in my very own Fox TV special, Who Wants To Marry a Mendelsohn?
As Jennifer's former "manager," we accept no proposals of any kind unless accompanied by a financial statement and an IQ score.
Subject: All The Pretty Horses
From: Kieran Healy
Date: Fri Mar 17
Has anyone else noticed that Julia Roberts acts like a giant magnet on David Edelstein's usually reliable critical compass? Whenever she's in a film, he can't resist (a) being much more favorable to it than the movie probably deserves, (b) telling us how beautiful Roberts is, what with her giant mouth and eyes and all, and (c) comparing her at some point to a horse.
Every critic has a blind spot, and perhaps David Edelstein came of age when Pretty Woman was on general release. But the horse part really worries me. Today's review of Erin Brockovich describes Roberts as having outsize teeth and "coltish gams." He goes on to say that Roberts used to be a "skittish thoroughbred." Have we heard this before? Several times, in fact, and almost verbatim each time. In his review of Runaway Bride (thank you, Slate archives), Edelstein says Roberts is "alternately warm and skittish." And writing about Notting Hill, he tells us Roberts used to be—surprise—"a skittish thoroughbred who needed to be handled (i.e., directed) with care." Oh, and don't forget her "features, which are huge ..." I wonder if David Edelstein is aware of this odd tic in his reviewing. Does he have a manila file marked "Julia Roberts/Horse Comparisons"? Or does it come from some deep, equine-fixated part of his brain that speaks to us only through the medium of Julia Roberts?
(To reply, click here.)
Subject: Re: All The Pretty Horses
From: David Edelstein
Date: Sat Mar 18
Thanks for the close textual analysis. A look at the two previous reviews confirms what you wrote. I'd had no idea I was repeating myself that closely.
To defend myself: Julia Roberts is a real movie star. I hate to exhume the phrase "larger than life," but that's what she is and why she's on the cover of almost every magazine at the moment. She's a good actress, too. If you don't agree, fine, but I can't find a false note in her performances in My Best Friend's Wedding, the Law and Order episode she did with her boyfriend, or Notting Hill. The only time I ever cut her some slack was on Runaway Bride, which even my wife told me I was nuts for not simply panning outright, but that movie made about 150 million, so clearly a few other people responded to the chemistry she had with Richard Gere. I think her rapport with Albert Finney in Erin Brockovich is even more winning.
One reviews an actress like Julia Roberts differently from, say, Julianne Moore or even Gwyneth Paltrow. She doesn't disappear into her parts: She's Julia. And there are certain qualities that recur from role to role—certain impressions one has watching her that remain consistent. If I were a certain notorious gasbag critic, I'd write: "As I said when I reviewed Notting Hill ..." and then quote myself at length. (I recall a review of his where he quoted himself from a decade earlier and in the middle of the quote was a quote from himself from five years before that.) But I don't quote myself—or even spend much time rereading what I wrote last month or last year. So, I regret using the same adjectives in those reviews but not the fact that the sentiments were so similar.
(To reply, click here.)
Subject: Fascistic Art, or The Pot Calling the Kettle Black
From: Adolphe-William Bouguereau
Date: Thu Mar 16
Bad artists with political views are always picking on Mayor Giuliani and calling him Hitler. Yet in truth, our last century's worst disasters came from bad artists with dumb political views (Hitler, lousy painting; Stalin, bad poetry; Mao, worse poetry; etc.). Perhaps the resemblance between our neo-conceptualists and Hitler is greater than the artists imagine. Consider the following behaviors of the artists—as mentioned in Culturebox's piece—and then consider who besides exhibitors at the Whitney and Brooklyn Museum routinely engaged in them:
- Dressing up in dumb costumes and having picture made in public places (Hitler, Stalin, Mao, Mussolini, Pol Pot)
- Filling warehouses with severed body parts and icky stuff (above except, mostly, Mussolini)
- Portraying political opponents as subhuman (all of the above)
- Spouting mind-numbing political cant while imagining they are saying something original (all of the above)
- Thinking that they speak for the masses when they are really playing out own neuroses/psychoses (all of the above)
Genocidal Fascist/Communist dictators or Conceptual Artists? You decide.