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Bad-Art Stockholm Syndrome Is Making Critics Uncritical

Ben Yagoda at Slate says critics are going too easy on films, TV, books

(Newser) - You just can't get into the Ted Danson-starring The Good Place despite critics' raves. And that Emily Dickson biopic A Quiet Passion has a 92% rating from critics on Rotten Tomatoes but only a 48% rating from audiences. So what gives? "In my viewing and reading life, I’... More »

Russian Opposition Leader Blinded With Toxic Green Dye

Assailant threw 'weapon of choice' on Kremlin critic Alexei Navalny in Moscow

(Newser) - Russia may soon have a president with a "stylish white eye." Not Vladimir Putin, but Alexei Navalny, a Russian opposition leader who made the joke after a not-so-funny incident last week that may leave him partially blind. The New York Times reports Navalny was attacked Thursday in Moscow... More »

TV Critic's Review Leads to Hilarious Correction


(Newser) - Presenting probably the most embarrassing newspaper correction in the history of newspaper corrections, courtesy of a New York Times review of the new TV show Goliath: "An earlier version of this review included an inaccurate discussion of the show's plot structure. The critic mistakenly watched the first two... More »

Dear Critics: Be Critical Again

Nonstop praise makes us a 'zombie nation': Dwight Garner

(Newser) - It's a tough time for criticism, literary or otherwise: Though there is no shortage of opinions out there—just look at Twitter—book review sections are shrinking. While a first-time novelist could expect about 90 reviews in the 1950s, that number has shrunk to 20. But there's another... More »

Glenn Beck Thriller: Is He Trying to Incite Violence?

Host in war of words over whether 'Overton Window' is extremist handbook

(Newser) - The critics haven't been too kind to Glenn Beck's new novel: "There will undoubtedly be positive reviews of The Overton Window," writes Majorie Kehe for the Christian Science Monitor of the federal conspiracy thriller, "but at least as of yet they are not easy to turn up... More »

Why 'Best of' Lists Are the Worst

The problem, says a critic: 'They're about yesterday's yearning'

(Newser) - Julia Keller is of two minds about year-end "best of" lists—which are even more numerous and annoying than usual in this, the final year of the decade. She admits to reading them, "and I further confess that I sometimes enjoy arguing silently with them." But "... More »

Help Wanted: Pot Critic

As pot grows semi-legal, connoisseurs wanted

(Newser) - In the midst of media layoffs, one Colorado newspaper is actually hiring: It’s looking for a pot critic. The number of medical marijuana dispensaries in Denver has exploded to more than 100 this year, and the alt-weekly Westword wants someone with a legit medical need to evaluate which are... More »

Mad Men Goes Mad on Purpose

(Newser) - Critics have begun to worry about Mad Men. Gory lawnmower accidents? Unexpected death? Grueling, drugged-up childbirth? “Where have all the snifters of brandy and jaunty shrimp cocktails gone?” asks Heather Havrilesky of Salon. She’s kidding, of course. Mad Men has spun into insanity so quickly because that’s... More »

Times, Tribune Critics Next-Gen Siskel & Ebert

Dueling critics Scott, Phillips mark return to old At the Movies format

(Newser) - At the Movies, the longtime home of Chicago critics Gene Siskel and Roger Ebert, is getting a new pair of dueling cineastes. AO Scott of the New York Times and Michael Phillips of the Chicago Tribune will take over the syndicated program, which returns to the air next month. The... More »

S. African Wines Aim to Put Brakes on 'Burnt Rubber' Rap

Exporters try to cast off a critic's harsh judgment

(Newser) - South African is the ninth-largest producer of wine, with several distinctive varietals that should be poised to break into the global marketplace, the New York Times reports. But the country’s wines have been dogged by comments made in 2007 by an influential British wine critic, who said after a... More »

Gigolo Comedy Pays Off for HBO

HBO's newest is more than a sex gag, but needs to develop further

(Newser) - Critics are split on Hung, HBO's new series starring Thomas Jane as a down-on-his-luck dad who becomes a gigolo. Though it's deeper than its salacious premise, the show, which makes its debut Sunday, isn't living up to its potential.
  • Hung "represents a wonderfully positive step for HBO, which has
... More »

Jackman Wins Viewers, Splits Critics

(Newser) - Hugh Jackman’s turn hosting the Oscars reversed a dip in the award show’s sagging ratings, E! Online reports—even if some critics didn’t find much substance. Early Nielsen numbers had 33.6 million viewers for last night’s telecast, up 6% from last year’s Jon Stewart-hosted... More »

Art World Still Divided on Wyeth

Some call him modern; others, 'corny Americana'

(Newser) - Andrew Wyeth divided the art community throughout his life, and little seems to have changed with his passing yesterday. While many in the field call him one of the most important 20th-century American artists, others insist his mode of realism makes him more of an illustrator than a serious painter,... More »

Best 2008 Movies You Probably Missed

Salon's critic's favorite flicks are an eclectic bunch

(Newser) - Behold: a top 10 movies list that doesn't include The Dark Knight. In a year that's hard to sum up, Stephanie Zarachek pulls together an eclectic mix of great flicks for Salon:
  • Even repeated viewings don't betray any flaws in Happy-Go-Lucky, a "luminous" tale of a London school
... More »

Sontag's Early Journals Mesmerize

Journals tell a touching tale of earnest self-creation

(Newser) - The newly released diaries of a young Susan Sontag provide an invaluable glimpse of how the writer-to-be came to be, critics say. “I do not just express myself more openly than I could do to any person," the late Sontag writes of journaling. "I create myself."... More »

Critic John Leonard Dead at 69

Lung cancer claims Vonnegut's 'smartest man who ever lived'

(Newser) - Critic and author John Leonard died last night after a long battle with cancer. Leonard, whom Kurt Vonnegut once called "the smartest man who ever lived," was 69. A brilliant but not flashy stylist, an unapologetic liberal, and a mentor to countless younger writers, Leonard worked at various... More »

New Yorker Pop Critic Admits 'Indie' Gaffes

Says his peers are loath to concede critical mistakes

(Newser) - You may have missed it, but the New Yorker pays attention to pop music. Flip past articles on dead American poets and you might find insightful, sometimes scathing, music critiques by Sasha Frere-Jones. The musician and critic sat down with Gelf Magazine to discuss the problems with defining indie rock—... More »

Greek Whites 'Smack of Sunshine'

Unpretentious pleasures for aficianados who branch out

(Newser) - In honor of the Olympics, Eric Asimov set out to rediscover Greece's white wines for the New York Times. He found whites just subtly different from the made-to-be-drunk young bottles of Italy and Spain, fermented from "unfamiliar, indigenous grapes grown nowhere else." The moschofilero varietal dominated the tasting,... More »

Economist Rates Art by Numbers

Professor studies textbook reproductions to determine greatness

(Newser) - Most art historians would agree that Pablo Picasso's Demoiselles d'Avignon is a great painting. But one economist says it's the best work of art of the 20th century, and he can prove it. The New York Times reports on the work of David Galenson, who analyzed the frequency of reproductions... More »

Ebert Ready to Review Again

Critic gives thumbs up to imminent return

(Newser) - Roger Ebert—beset by a series of serious health ailments in recent years—will soon resume reviewing films, he wrote in a letter to Chicago Sun-Times readers. The critic was diagnosed with thyroid cancer in 2002; since then he’s undergone several surgeries, including a tracheotomy that cost him his... More »

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