Saturday, May 30, 2009

Best Lead of the Month

'If you arrived late for “Terminator Salvation” and missed the name of the director, at what moment would you realize that you were not watching a Mike Leigh film? I would nominate the scene in which a rusty tow truck, armed with a wrecking ball, is pursued by a riderless robot motorbike, armed with automatic machine guns. A wrecked car falls into the bike’s path, at which point we are given privileged access to the display screen inside the robot’s brain. We get a blood-red projection of the obstacle ahead, and with it, for a second or two, the words “Analyzing alternatives.” Slide under the wreck, crash through it, or skirt around the side? I felt sorry for this anxious bike, which may have been having trouble at home, and it certainly delivers a more measured performance than some of the leading actors. Nonetheless, that brief digital readout gives the game away. The business of the film is not to tell a cogent story or earn the devotion of our sympathies but to analyze alternatives, and, when in doubt, pick whichever is louder.'
--From a movie review in the current New Yorker by Anthony Lane, who we enthused about six years ago here. Our runner-up this month is this pithy little gem from the Washington Post: "The whole world is on Twitter. Yawn." As we noted in our initial best lead of the month item three years ago, if a piece of writing doesn't begin well, it might just as well not have been written. Anyway, you can review earlier best leads of the month here.


At 12:02 PM, Blogger Jeff Hershberger said...

Anthony Lane is priceless. He finds a way to have fun with every topic. The New Yorker's other film critic stands in stark contrast - I'll diplomatically say that he's difficult to please.

At 12:42 PM, Blogger John Ettorre said...

You said it, Jeff. He's been accused by some of not understanding American culture, since he lives in and writes from England. But I think that doesn't put a dent in his routine brilliance, and the distance even allows him to see things many others miss.

At 12:40 PM, Blogger Darby M. Dixon III said...

Finding the perfect beginning can be harder than writing the entire piece.

At 1:18 PM, Blogger John Ettorre said...

Quite right, Darby. Which is why the best leads are often written last.


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