The critics' take on Impostor, Genesis, etc.

Highlights from the week in criticism.
Jan. 4 2002 1:41 PM

Impossible Impostor

Impostor (Dimension). Lousy reviews for this sci-fi thriller starring Gary Sinise. "Unless there are zoning ordinances to protect your community from the dullest science fiction, Impostor is opening today at a theater near you," says USA Today. Several critics comment that the film, about Sinise's quest to prove he is not an alien-manufactured cyborg bomb, is of "straight-to-video sci-fi rental shelf" quality (Desson Howe, the Washington Post). Particular complaints include the implausible plot, difficult-to-follow action scenes, and even shoddy camera work. "Impostor offers a dark view of the future—a badly lighted one, that is," zings the New York Times' A.O. Scott. The film's lone defender is, of course, Uber-blurbmeister Kevin Thomas of the Los Angeles Times. Writes Thomas in his trademark borderline-incoherent style: "Director Gary Fleder, his writers and crew persuasively project a world in which much of the planet is guarded by electromagnetic force-field domes to protect it from a decade-long attack by aliens. …Ultimately, [the movie] evokes a pervasive feeling of uncertainty that lies at the heart of the human condition." (Click here for information on Philip K. Dick, whose short story was the basis for this movie.)—B.M.L.

CD cover

Music Bright Flight, by the Silver Jews (Drag City). Measured optimism for this latest opus from the inspired indie-rockers. Missing former front man and Pavement vocalist Steve Malkmus, Bright Flight lets shine the talent of leader David Berman, an "indispensable writer for this irony-drenched generation" (Martin Edlund, the New Republic Online). Berman "serves up more of what we've come to expect from him: unvarnished prairie licks and poetic lyrics that marry provincial and spiritual themes to incidental ones" (Raymond Cummings, Baltimore City Paper). "Recorded in Nashville, this 10-song set leans toward that city's gold sounds, as evidenced by a number of countrified tracks" (John D. Luerssen, Bllboard). But critics say the songs reach further than Nashville, remaining "devastating and reviving in their ability to transcend time and place" (Kathleen Wilson, the Stranger). (Read an excerpt from Berman's "Diary of a New York Art Museum Security Guard," published in Baffler #6.)— A.B.

CD cover

Genesis, by Busta Rhymes (J Records). "You'd have to go way back to Screamin' Jay Hawkins to find another performer with Busta Rhymes' macabre mix of Godzilla-size theatrics, playfully demonic persona and volatile intensity," says Rolling Stone's Barry Walters. And that seems to be the general consensus on the rapper-cum-actor's fifth album, with only a few detractors, including Neil Drumming of the Washington Post, who calls it "sonically calculating." Most disagree, though: "Rehashing hip-hop cliches in almost gothic, lean-yet-tricky soundscapes sculpted by Dr. Dre, the Neptunes, et al," Rhymes still seems "tough, profane and sometimes OutKast-goofy, as when spoofing TV psychic Miss Cleo" (Natalie Nichols, the Los Angeles Times). Busta's main critiques: 1) "a few monotonous moments"; 2) "vocal calisthenics that verge on trendy" (Malcom Veneable, Entertainment Weekly); and 3) an inability to sustain a high level of energy for the entire album (Renee Graham, the Boston Globe). (Click here for the lyrics to Busta's hits.)—A.B.

Ben Mathis-Lilley edits the Slatest. Follow @Slatest on Twitter.

Adam Baer is a culture critic for the New York Sun and contributor to the New York Times Book Review, Travel + Leisure, and Slate, among other publications.



Slate Plus Early Read: The Self-Made Man

The story of America’s most pliable, pernicious, irrepressible myth.

Rehtaeh Parsons Was the Most Famous Victim in Canada. Now, Journalists Can’t Even Say Her Name.

Mitt Romney May Be Weighing a 2016 Run. That Would Be a Big Mistake.

Amazing Photos From Hong Kong’s Umbrella Revolution

Transparent Is the Fall’s Only Great New Show

The XX Factor

Rehtaeh Parsons Was the Most Famous Victim in Canada

Now, journalists can't even say her name.


Lena Dunham, the Book

More shtick than honesty in Not That Kind of Girl.

What a Juicy New Book About Diane Sawyer and Katie Couric Fails to Tell Us About the TV News Business

Does Your Child Have Sluggish Cognitive Tempo? Or Is That Just a Disorder Made Up to Scare You?

  News & Politics
Sept. 29 2014 11:45 PM The Self-Made Man The story of America’s most pliable, pernicious, irrepressible myth.
Sept. 29 2014 7:01 PM We May Never Know If Larry Ellison Flew a Fighter Jet Under the Golden Gate Bridge
Dear Prudence
Sept. 30 2014 6:00 AM Drive-By Bounty Prudie advises a woman whose boyfriend demands she flash truckers on the highway.
  Double X
Sept. 29 2014 11:43 PM Lena Dunham, the Book More shtick than honesty in Not That Kind of Girl.
  Slate Plus
Slate Fare
Sept. 29 2014 8:45 AM Slate Isn’t Too Liberal, but … What readers said about the magazine’s bias and balance.
Brow Beat
Sept. 29 2014 9:06 PM Paul Thomas Anderson’s Inherent Vice Looks Like a Comic Masterpiece
Future Tense
Sept. 29 2014 11:56 PM Innovation Starvation, the Next Generation Humankind has lots of great ideas for the future. We need people to carry them out.
  Health & Science
Medical Examiner
Sept. 29 2014 11:32 PM The Daydream Disorder Is sluggish cognitive tempo a disease or disease mongering?
Sports Nut
Sept. 28 2014 8:30 PM NFL Players Die Young. Or Maybe They Live Long Lives. Why it’s so hard to pin down the effects of football on players’ lives.