Daily Archives: August 13, 2020

2 Days In The Valley

From the Chicago Reader (September 24, 1996). — J.R.

2-Days-in-the-Valley

The standard line on this actor-heavy, brain-light concoction by writer-director John Herzfeld (1996) is that it’s Short Cuts meets Pulp Fiction, but it isn’t a tenth as good as either. It does, however, have a good many dog reaction shots, so if you happen to think the other two movies were lacking in those, credit Herzfeld for making up the difference. Crosscutting between various San Fernando Valley miniplots that prove to be interlocking, Herzfeld has a tolerable eye for filling a ‘Scope frame but a tin ear when it comes to creating dialogue; these are all characters we’ve met before, and most even seem bored with themselves. With Danny Aiello, Greg Cruttwell, Jeff Daniels, Teri Hatcher, Glenne Headly, Peter Horton, Marsha Mason, Paul Mazursky, James Spader, Eric Stoltz, and Charlize Theron, plus cameos by Keith Carradine, Louise Fletcher, and Austin Pendleton. (JR)

2DaysRead more »

THE AMERICAN CINEMA Revisited [on Andrew Sarris]

I’m saddened that Andrew Sarris (1928-2012) didn’t live longer than 83, even though he had a very rich and rewarding career as a film critic.

This book review appeared in the sixth issue of Cinema Scope (Winter 2001) and is reprinted in Goodbye Cinema, Hello Cinephilia. — J.R.

The American Cinema Revisited

Citizen Sarris, American Film Critic:
Essays in Honor of Andrew Sarris

Edited by Emanuel Levy
The Scarecrow Press, 2001

Ironically, my enemies were the first to alert me to the fact that I had followers.
— Andrew Sarris, Confessions of a Cultist (1970)


One of the main emotions aroused in me by the 40 or so contributions to the millennial Festschrift Citizen Sarris is nostalgia –- specifically, a yearning for the era three or four decades ago when something that might be described as a North American film community was slowly emerging and recognizing its own existence.

This was just before academic film studies, radical politics, drugs and diverse other developments splintered that community into separate and mainly non-communicating cliques and ghettos, accompanied by an intensification of studio promotion that eventually took infotainment beyond its status as a minor industry and into an arena where advertising was coming close to defining as well as monitoring the whole of film culture, thus phasing out individual voices -– or at the very least bunching them together in sound bites, pull quotes, bibliographies and adjectival ad copy.… Read more »