Now That's Good Writing: David Denby
Denby, who has bugged me in the past, seems to be getting better. Here he is on what's not quite right with “Public Enemies”:
Yet, for all its skill, “Public Enemies” is not quite a great movie. There’s something missing—a sense of urgency and discovery, a more complicated narrative path, a shrewder, tougher sense of who John Dillinger is.
At the same time, he adds what's exactly right with Crudup's performance and the tone director Michael Mann sets:
Billy Crudup, who has done inventive work onstage in recent years, returns to the movies with a brilliant piece of high comedy. His cheekbones built up, his handsome features on the verge of disappearing into jowls, he plays the young but already insufferable J. Edgar Hoover as a bullying, righteous, and wary man, a natural-born populist authoritarian. One of Mann’s wittiest accomplishments is to recapture the stiffly formal side of official life in the thirties, the pompous tone of bureaucracy and media, too—the sound of a newly powerful country trying to impress itself with its own importance.
In the same review, he also takes out “Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen”...as much any critic can take out that $400-million piece of garbage:
“Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen,” directed by the stunningly, almost viciously, untalented Michael Bay, is much closer to the norm of today’s conglomerate filmmaking. Two sets of leaden-voiced, plastic-and-metal monsters, the Autobots and the Decepticons, having failed to settle their differences over a parking space on an alien planet, fight it out on Earth—with human beings, in the dubious form of the teen couple Shia LaBeouf and Megan Fox, in the middle.