erik lundegaard


Wednesday October 27, 2010

Why Can't I Quit Michael Cieply?

I always seem to be about a week behind in what I want to post about.

This piece, for example, “Longing for the Lines that Had Us at Hello,” showed up in The New York Times a week ago today, and it's been stuck in my craw, wherever my craw* is, ever since.

(*craw (n.): a pouch in many birds and some lower animals that resembles a stomach for storage and preliminary maceration of food)

One, it's by Michael Cieply, who's been a bit of a bete noire for me for the past few years. My site has a search function now, and if you search for “Cieply” you get 10 hits, most of them bitching about this or that now-forgotten article.**

(**My favorite of these is “Two Face,” from July 2008, in which Cieply's April prediction that “The Dark Knight” may underperform at the box office—because it's too gloomy at a time when people want to escape gloom—is juxtaposed with colleague Brooks Barnes' after-the-fact analysis that “The Dark Knight” did well at the box office because its gloominess reflected the national mood. Escape/reflect. Nice when the Times gets it both ways.) 

Two, it's about movie quotes, which I've written about before: once for MSNBC, once for me. So, egotistically, I feel like it's my turf.

Three, the Times' headline plays a bit with the text. Cieply's main argument, or thought, is: Where have all the good movie quotes gone? He doesn't mention longing.

Mostly, though, elitist that I am, I think the movie quotes that everyone quotes (“Show me the money!”) aren't as interesting as the movie quotes that movie lovers quote (“Takin' em off here, boss”). ***

(***Cieply also confuses the categories, putting “The Dude Abides” in the former when it's really the latter. “The Big Lebowski” kinda bombed on first viewing. It took years before quotes about the Dude started coming.)  

Here's the brunt of Cieply's argument:

Sticky movie lines were everywhere as recently as the 1990s. But they appear to be evaporating from a film world in which the memorable one-liner — a brilliant epigram, a quirky mantra, a moment in a bottle — is in danger of becoming a lost art.

I could argue that “Stupid is as stupid does” is not art, lost or otherwise. I could argue that sticky movie quotes get annoying fast. But there's really only one thing to say to Cieply at this point:

Why so serious?

What about you? What movie lines from the past 10 years do you quote? Feel free to put 'em in the comments field below.****

(****Shout-out to Joe Posnanski, from whom I got the idea of footnoting within the text of a blog post.)

Posted at 05:36 AM on Wednesday October 27, 2010 in category Movies