You can tell how far the Paulettes have fallen when the phrase "sensitive and insightful" is intended as praise. To be fair, Zacharek doesn't actually use those words, but nobody would have come within 50 kilometers of a Kael review bearing those descriptors. It's almost enough to make one long for the strenuous rantings of Charles Taylor. Fortunately, we still have Armond White for that.
I have no plans to see Atonement, though from a marketing standpoint it may be the shrewdest piece of Oscar Bait I've seen dangled so far this year. It's got a rising young actress on the cusp of her Star Moment, a bland auteur behind the camera, the pedigree of an acclaimed novel, and British accents. Shit, what's not to love?
Most importantly, Atonement -- aside from what I understand is the jarring appearance of the "c-word" -- isn't going to scare anybody. Unlike Paul Thomas Anderson, who truth be told scares me a little too. Yet There Will Be Blood, his adaptation of Upton Sinclair's novel, is the one film I'm looking forward to the most this season. I thought Boogie Nights was a bad movie with greatness in it, Magnolia a great movie with badness in it, and Punch-Drunk Love an exhausting try of patience in its first act with a climactically magical, cathartic release. Who knows what this madman hath wrought this time out, but I can't wait to see it.