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David Thomson’s “Rotten State of Hollywood” Is Reactionary Drivel

In response to David Thomson’s 1217‑word review of Prisoners on The New Republic

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David Thomson’s “‘Prisoners’ and the Rotten State of Hollywood begins in media res with dialogue between Thomson and his outraged wife about how outraged they are at the outrageous things they are seeing on the movie screen in front of them.

This is not a film review but an unintentionally hilarious manifesto against the movie industry. Throw out any notions of a typical movie review: acting, plot, cinematography, pacing; none of them matter here. All that matter’s is Thomson’s holier-than-thou fist-shaking at the Hollywood establishment.

Thomson mistakes dark subject matter for malice, and pines for the days when movies were clean and wholesome and did not concern themselves with such somber, unpleasant subject matter as what he sees before him. He sees the role of filmmaker as a person who should be patting people on the back and handing them lollipops, not making them question their own morality. Certainly, Thomson is not someone inclined to question his own morality. He couldn’t deliver a diatribe this over the top if he did.

It’s a shame that Thomson had as horrible a time writing Rotten State of Hollywood as most readers are likely to have reading it. Oh sure, it will appeal to a certain crowd who like their moral certainty like they like the chips on their shoulders: always there. But for serious connoisseurs of film reviews, Rotten State is missing even the most basic qualifications of good criticism.    

Quality of Writing Quality of Argument Spoiler Avoidance Presentation