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Saturday, January 13, 2007

Dumb Readers of the World, Unite and Take Over

posted by on January 13 at 18:20 PM

A reader writes:


Is Lindy West’s internship over yet?

A movie review should be something that helps the reader decide if the discussed feature is worth spending their time and money to view. Ms. West’s reviews are basically about Ms. West, her adolescent opinions and some yammering on about something or other that usually has nothing to do
with the film. Its not useful and honestly, its not even entertaining.

Please, could someone on the editorial staff find some time to mentor her or, at the very least, read and edit the copy?

Uhh, what planet are you from, person? Is it cold there? Is it as cold there as it is here? Is it all very relaxing and literal there? Ms. West’s internship ended when Ms. West was a good year or two younger than Ms. West is now, and Ms. West continues to write movie reviews for The Stranger because, well, Ms. West is just about one of the best freakin’ film reviewers I’ve ever read. Seriously. If you read Ms. West’s reviews and can’t decide if you want to spend your time and money on a movie, well, I don’t know what to tell you, but the problem isn’t Ms. West. Do you get Seattle Weekly out there? You might like it.

Wait, hold on a second, are you Hilary Swank?

RSS icon Comments


Now that the Weekly is part of the New Times, they run film criticism from J. Hoberman. I think he can hold his own against Ms. West.

Posted by factcheck | January 13, 2007 6:52 PM

Ugh. Back when I lived in New York, my rule of thumb was, if Hoberman says a movie's good, avoid it at all costs.

Posted by keshmeshi | January 13, 2007 6:59 PM

While I appreciate good film criticism (Rosenbaum, Sterrit, Hoberman, Taubin, etc.)'d have to be made out of stone to not chuckle at Lindy West's reviews. She is just fucking funny.

Posted by jryan | January 13, 2007 8:50 PM

Uhhh? Frizelle?

Aren't you on a platform there too, buddy? Isn't this a blog where people share opinions?

Your and Ms. West's writing really should be enlightening about your subject rather than yourselves. We all understand how personality offers perspective and context, but c'mon.

Posted by Julia Bovee | January 14, 2007 12:23 AM

yeah, fuck the readers. as long as you stranger employees all like each other, that's what counts.

Posted by chris | January 14, 2007 12:35 AM

This, coming from a guy whose work is commemorated by a litter box at Twice Sold Tales.

Posted by A Nony Mouse | January 14, 2007 1:31 AM

I don't like to be a nag, but I'll ask again: when are readers going to get to subscribe to author-specific RSS feeds? I want to subscribe to Lindy West. Desperately.

Posted by mattymatt | January 14, 2007 3:08 AM

Miz Lindy's a very funny writer, and I read her and love her sumptin' bad--but I'd never demean her by treating her as a serious film critic.

Posted by Boomer | January 14, 2007 4:45 AM

The reader is correct - Lindy West's writing is mostly about conveying authorial attitude rather than information (a curiously popular approach at The Stranger.) When it works, it's usually because the author supplements the attitude with a little information (e.g. Anthony Lane, Savage Love), lest they bore or annoy the reader to death with their narcissism (e.g. Erica Barnett).

The verdict is still out on Lindon West, but jokes about Hilary Swank's teeth (so original and clever!) aren't helping her case.

Posted by Sean | January 14, 2007 9:28 AM

I've read quite a few of her reviews, and they definitely have a charm to them - informal, chatty, snarky, often funny. I have to admit, though, that I'm a bit baffled upon hearing that Stranger staffers are "giddy" about her writing and that she's among the best movie reviewers you've ever come across. Seriously? I don't mean this as a slam to Ms. West, but reviewers like Peter Bradshaw of the Guardian just seem like they're working at a whole different level of criticism and explication, where they can fundamentally change the way you think about a particular movie, with plenty of wit to boot.

I think Lindy West's style fits in with The Stranger, but I just don't think of it as being startling or revelatory. It's not that different from a friend emailing you with a casual and witty synopsis and takedown of a recent film. And it feels odd that, regardless of the film she's reviewing and whether or not she likes it, her tone is basically the same from review to review.

Posted by Gabriel | January 14, 2007 9:34 AM

By the way, John Longenbaugh's opener in the Seattle Weekly was better than anything I can recall reading about theater in your magazine. And the Subpop/Shins article was better than anything I can recall from your music department. And I'm really trying not to like "Ask an Uptight Seattleite", yet there I go reading it every week.

Fefer seems to have an eye for good writers.

Posted by Sean | January 14, 2007 9:56 AM

defending Ms. West on a Slog post is one more bit of proof that the Stranger is starting to suck. Frizzelle is showing he has a fucking crush on Ms. West, making this blog no longer worth checking out. snore.

Posted by horse | January 14, 2007 12:51 PM

Ugh - too many people need their criticism to be "serious" (read "pretentious") in order to find it valid.

I prefer mine with a healthy spoonful of sugar and lots of silliness. Especially when we're reviewing mainstream media.

I like Lindy's reviews. I think The Stranger has a stable of great journalists, with great ethics, and an agenda I agree with (for the most part).

As far as I'm concerned, it is Seattle's only newspaper.

Posted by Soupytwist | January 14, 2007 12:57 PM

Christopher has a crush on Ms. West? WOW that IS newsworthy commentary! Honestly, I think we are all getting a little to worked up about a film reviewer.

Posted by Andrew | January 14, 2007 1:01 PM

It's more that we're getting a little worked up defending, or objecting to the defense, of a film reviewer. Which is more fun than football any day.

Soupytwist--The Stranger has great writers, but not so much journalists. Depending on your cup o' tea, this is either laudable or laughable.

Posted by Boomer | January 14, 2007 3:53 PM

Lindy usually is assigned to movies that are so obviously awful that a real review isn't necessary. It's understandable that the paper publishes her often humorous takes on them.

Posted by honestly | January 14, 2007 5:33 PM

Regarding the Peter Bradshaw quote earlier: Is that what you really want? Someone who can "fundamentally change the way you think about a particular movie?" 1) That's expecting a lot from a free press reviewer. 2) Your life experiences and what you've learned up to that point when you see the film should be what influences your lense. "Wow, this writer makes a lot of great points, I was wrong about what I thought of the film. He or she makes a lot more sense."

Posted by Jonathan | January 14, 2007 6:54 PM

Boomer - I'd be curious to know your definition of a journalist, because I bet we disagree on fundamentals.

Posted by Soupytwist | January 14, 2007 7:47 PM

Blah, blah, blah... I couldn't care less about journalists or journalism--or fundamentals or fundamentalism--but I love good writing. That's what keeps me comin' back to Ye Olde Stranger

Posted by Boomer | January 14, 2007 8:35 PM

Also in agreement with the reader. Frankly, there's nothing more obnoxious than a third-rate philistine who thinks their insights and tacked-on irony are funnier than they actually are. I wouldn't go far as to say Ms. West completely fits the said category, mostly because the reviews hint at a certain insecurity and self-congratulatory neglect, for lack of a better description, with the more prescriptive styles of film analysis. If she wishes to get better, I suggest that she shape the tone of her reviews to sound a bit less self-satisfied and recognize that her job as a reviewer is to REVIEW - not to choke on the tongue in her cheek.

Posted by Trevor | January 14, 2007 10:38 PM

If I wanted to criticize Lindy West, all I'd have to do would be copy and paste her review of "Flannel Pajamas"

"What's this movie about?"

"Relationships or something."

"Oh look, it's that chick from Law & Order."

"I like her freckles. OMG, is that Barto from Jack & Jill?"

"It IS Barto! What are they talking about?"

"I wasn't listening."

"I think they were on a blind date, and now they're in love."

"What the fuck? Is he putting his jacket down on the puddle?"

"That's stupid. And they're going on a picnic? Who goes on a picnic?"

"Oh my god. Oh my god. Did she just say 'I need you inside of me'? Oh my god."

"If someone said that to me, I'd be like, 'I don't even want to go in there ever now. I don't know what might be in there. More cheesy dialogue?'"

"When you were watching Jack & Jill, did you ever wonder what Barto's penis looked like?"

"Yeah, duh. Barto's penis is like bigger than his face!"

"Look, it's all wiggle-wagglin'. Gross. They're moving in together? I hate them so much. Oh no. I think she said 'I'm dripping.'"

"She said 'I'm marking my territory.'"

"Wait. I have a theory. Maybe this movie is supposed to make us have these feelings, because it's a movie about the two most heinous people ever."

"I don't even care. All they do is fuck and cry."

"The press release says that it's 'all too real' and that it has 'no heroes, no villains.'"

"That's weird, because you know what makes movies interesting? Heroes. And villains."

"And I'm pretty sure 'too real' just means boring. Hey, the cast is coming to town. Do you think I should interview them?"

"Yes. Question one: Barto, did you really put your face in her vagina, or was she wearing a merkin?"

"Wow, he just said, 'Spermicidal gel burns my penis.' Did you hear that?"

"I like that crazy anti-Semitic grandma. Why do they drink so much Snapple?"

"'Oops! I got Snapple on my merkin!'"

"I like TV better than movies. I wish we could fast-forward."

"God, I know."


My immediate reaction? "Thanks... for telling me NOTHING."

Posted by Rachel | January 14, 2007 10:48 PM

Ms. West's reviews aren't just bad, they're a bit insulting. They're about the equivalent of an eleventh grade student turning in a book report and saying "I hated this book."

Until you tell us why, Lindy, I'll be skipping over them from now on.

Posted by Belmondo | January 15, 2007 3:57 AM

Yes, I think that a critic who can persuade you to see a film you wouldn't have otherwise seen, or make you look at a film you did see in a new light, is doing a great job. You disagree?

Posted by Gabriel | January 15, 2007 6:18 AM

I think her "Flannel Pajamas" review tells you everything you need to know about the movie - The characters are annoying and the dialogue is unbearable.

Sometimes writing requires some "filling in the blanks" on behalf of the reader. No everything can be 100% literal and explicit. Now that would be insulting.

You dicks.

Posted by Meagan | January 15, 2007 8:25 AM

now, least be happy that ONE annoying Stranger writer has been exhiled from the print long Adrian Ryan...we really won't miss you...

Posted by michael strangeways | January 15, 2007 8:50 AM


You're too dismissive and insulting. Fundamentally arrogant and cocksure of the righteousness of your opinions is no way to go through life. I wish I could post this in a more heavily serifed font.

Posted by Micah | January 15, 2007 9:02 AM

I don't care what anyone says; the review for Flannel Pajamas is unique, spot-on, and tells me everything I need to know in order to avoid the movie. If you feel like you got nothing from the review, then by all means I think you should see the movie because it was obviously created with you in mind.

Posted by Less is More | January 15, 2007 10:29 AM

Flannel Pajamas??? Seriously?? You're upset about her review of Flannel Pajamas? That movie was shit. Absolute shit. If she had pulled that on a great film, perhaps you'd have a point. But shit...Flannel Pajamas?

Furthermore, if you wanted serious reviews, you could go to a million other papers or see what Rotten Tomatoes has to offer. Lindy's style is par for the course at the Stranger. It's funny, self-indulgent... and funny.

Idiots. You're all idiots.

Gabriel, "fundamentally changing the way you look at a movie" is a lot different from "looking at a movie in a new light." "Fundamental change" is a much higher bar. (Also, an unreasonable one for most writers anywhere, including the Stranger.) The movies she reviews are generally terrible, which is why her reviews are so wonderful.

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