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Joshua Rothkopf Turns Pithiness Into Art With “Furnace”

In response to Joshua Rothkopf’s 185‑word review of Out of the Furnace on Time Out New York

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Joshua Rothkopf’s piece for Time Out New York, “Out of the Furnace: movie review (R),” works wonders within its tiny confines and proves that diminutive reviews, in the hands of a master, can pack enough punch to justify their Lilliputian stature.

With so little space, stellar word choice is an absolute must, and Rothkopf proves to be a god in this respect, using one or two perfectly fitted words to conjure entire worlds of critical thought for readers. What takes other critics entire paragraphs to explain, Mr. Rothkopf reveals in single sentence so uncannily attuned to his audience’s sensibilities, it’s almost eerie.

Consider this polished nugget of critique he offers: Out of the Furnace “goes beyond the edge of poetic despair into stridency. . but subtle performances—especially from Bale and Affleck, both growing meaner in the absence of hope—transcend any structural weaknesses.” What’s missing here that other reviews have taken interminable paragraphs to reach?

Nothing. That’s what.

Don’t take this as an endorsement of small reviews in general, though. They are typically the playground of weak-minded or lazy critics. This just happens to be that rare case (1 in a 100) in which god-like pithiness and scathing insights merge to create a delightful piece of less-is-more criticism.    

Quality of Writing Quality of Argument Spoiler Avoidance Presentation