L.A. Times critic shocked that “The Searchers” author Glenn Frankel said back in 2008 that it was his favorite movie.
What Up Hollywood says: Well Duh! Why would the author, or anyone, spend years writing a book about a film he didn’t like?
The thing that you notice about the L.A. Times these days is that when it comes to a “book review”, the so-called “reviewer” can never just give the public an overview of the book, the story line, the writing, the illustrations, how the author handles the subject matter, the strengths and weaknesses, if any. Instead the “reviewers” all have to become “critics”. Big time intellectual blowhards. Forget informing the public about the book, now it’s an exercise in finding something, somewhere to carp about, often something that has little to do with the book at hand. Maybe it’s the editors. Maybe they think that if they say too many “nice” things that it will look too much like a promo, and god forbid, we can’t have that. The stuffy noses of the elites who run that rag might start twitching and dripping. Bankruptcy didn’t teach them anything about being in touch with their fellow angelenos. Their noses just went up a couple notches.
So is it any really big surprise to read the Times slam-fest of author Glenn Frankel? Times self-styled critic David Kipen had to dig deep for stupid things to say. For a starter, he goes way back to some piece that Frankel had written in 2008 in the Washington Post, where he “lays his cards on the table” and says that “The Searchers” is his favorite movie. Wow, is that shocking, or what? Millions of folks who have seen the film just might agree with him.
But the drivel goes on. Kipen makes a big deal out of a couple of Frankel’s quotes. One had to do with the story’s real-life hero, James Parker, who went on the quest to find his niece. He quotes author Frankel as saying that the “real story (Parker) was telling was about himself.” Yes, that’s true, because he was the one tracking down his niece, nothing wrong with saying that. Then the Times blasts Frankel for saying that Alan LeMay, the writer who had turned the original story into a novel, also had used it to tell the story about himself. Yes, many times authors will weave their own life experiences into a story. So what? According to “critic” Kipen, Frankel therefore “pounds (the) point right into the ground.” Huh? For making a couple of accurate observations, that’s “pounding” the point?
It gets better, because Kipen himself does the same thing in his Times article. In his frenzy to “prove” that author Frankel is not a good “critic”, he repeats that point not twice, but three times in his short “review”. He says (1) Frankel “trips up only when he tries too hard to play the film critic.” Then (2) Frankel “may be a great journalist, but a fine critic he’s not.” And finally (3) “Frankel’s book…charts an uneasy equilibrium, in this case between iffy film criticism and impeccable reportage.” Our question is: was Kipen angrily spitting on his keyboard just thinking that author Frankel might be doing a little film criticism? After all, that’s what his book is about, a film and how it evolved from a true life event into a larger than life movie, one of the greatest westerns ever made. His job as an author would be to critique the mistakes made along the path, be it by the original hero Parker, the novelist LeMay, the director Ford, or any of the actors.
For “critic” Kipen, this is just too much. He is in his little L.A. Times sandbox, and the way he is sqwalking he is in fear that another “critic” will invade his turf and toss him out. We suggest that next time Mr. Kipen writes a “book review” that he concentrate on the book itself, and leave all the ridiculous baggage on the train platform, not in the article. Of course, it’s possible that the L.A. Times editors wouldn’t publish anything that didn’t look like real, big-time, “intellectual” criticism, even if it has scant relevance to the subject.
Author Glenn Frankel (Pictured on right) will be at Book Soup on Sunday, March 10, and down in Santa Monica at the Aero Theater at 6:30 on Monday, March 11th.