The Corner

More Movie Criticism From Derb

Our weekend video rental was ABOUT SCHMIDT. Rosie & I are both big Jack

Nicholson fans. We loved this movie, though we both agreed the ending

didn’t quite come off. (Had Schmidt found peace and understanding? Or just

reached the end of his tether?) And I thought the imagined children’s

voices in the tire store were a bit poshlust. Still, 100 times better

than the average movie.

Watching ABOUT SCHMIDT stirred the following thought. For all the moaning

we conservatives do about Hollywood and its lefty/trashy/dimwitted values,

American moviemakers are extraordinarily good at what they do. Of course,

they put out a lot of garbage; but once in a while everything works, and the

result is simply superb. ABOUT SCHMIDT is actually about nothing

much–guy retires, wife dies, daughter marries a loser with an obnoxious

family. It’s just a slice of ordinary dull life, illustrating the truth

that “most men lead lives of quiet desperation.” Yet it manages to be

gripping. The acting, the staging, the shooting–it’s all terrific. Nobody

makes movies like we do. (Though a decent runner-up in the “slice of life”

category is Zhang Yimou’s brilliant SHENG ZHE — called “Life,” “To Live,”

“Lifetimes,” or “Living” in English, depending which version you get.)