Critic shouldn't give away the plot of movieAs both a...

the Forum

August 30, 1994

Critic shouldn't give away the plot of movie

As both a subscriber to The Evening Sun and a fairly regular moviegoer, I am always interested in reading the newspaper's critical reviews of current films.

In the past, Stephen Hunter, and now, Stephen Wigler, have presented perceptive analyses. However, they have also described in far too much detail the entire story lines and particular scenes.

Plots and memorable scenes should be discussed with discretion so that readers intending to see a film do not have to "skip" through the review, trying to avoid learning all there is to know about the story and special scenes.

Mr. Hunter, in his review of "The Crying Game," because one of the principal actors had been nominated for an Oscar, assumed that movie audiences would have instant name recognition, and he proceeded to describe a pivotal scene -- giving away the "surprise" element of the film.

Needless to say, this either lessened the desire to see a film, or it lessens the pleasure of watching the film as the story untolds.

While I did not agree with Mr. Wigler's 3 1/2 -star rating of the film "White," I found this movie to be well acted and entertaining.

Mr. Wigler managed to pique my interest during the first four paragraphs of his review, but the ensuing description of the plot included an excess of detail.

It is my understanding that other readers have expressed similar complaints.

Shouldn't a critic's review be concerned with the success or failure of the director's intentions, the quality of the acting, etc., and not primarily with the retelling of the story?

Is there a minimum space requirement that encourages reviewers to give away more than is appropriate?

Barbara Lader


Praise for bank

Bravo to the NationsBank company for agreeing to restore the splendid former Maryland National Bank building on Light Street.

And surely praise goes to Edward Gunts for his well written, perceptive analysis of the work, the appearance, and the final result, which will be a welcome note of decorative architecture for the city skyline in Baltimore.

His explanation of how the work is being done was most interesting.

Dorothea Apgar


Bottle deposit

Now that Mayor Kurt Schmoke has expressed his unhappiness over the filth in the city (The Evening Sun, Aug. 19), maybe he will consider a measure which will guarantee an improvement in the city's appearance -- a bottle-deposit law.

Bottles that are worth a nickel or a dime won't collect in vacant lots or gutters. There won't be broken glass on every sidewalk.

Kids will retrieve bottles for pocket change. People will donate them to raise money for charities, just as they do with aluminum cans. Most will turn them in at grocery stores to collect the deposit.

Other places with bottle-deposit laws (such as Maine and Vermont) are well on their way to becoming litter free.

Bob Maddox


Hidden driver

In addition to the motorist who cuts people off and races through red lights, we now have one (figure of speech -- I have seen more than several) who obscures his identity by covering his license plates with a gray plastic "protector."

These things must be illegal, and, if they are, why doesn't our alert constabulary take some action?

Perhaps they are in the process of cracking down, and the gray plate covers are simply proliferating faster than the law an catch up.

These mystery vehicles are sometimes equipped with dark gray windows which also obscure the driver's identity.

Indeed, they mask his or her presence, making it impossible for other motorists to get some clue as to these drivers' intentions through eye contact, which can be an important aid to safe driving.

Can we persuade the gendarmes to clean off these offending windows and license plates?

Frank Littleton


Health questions

In addition to the many questions about the universality of coverage in health care reform, managed care, choice of physician (and provider's freedom to accept a patient outside a system without incurring penalty), one may wonder what is specifically meant by "tough cost controls."

What is implied by "a cap" on spending? In a U.S. Public Health Service hospital, the budget would suddenly be cut in the last quarter of the fiscal year; a unit director would have to lay off well-trained newer employees.

Money would be restored next quarter, but those laid off would have gone elsewhere.

What does "tough cost control" mean in terms of actual care? Relatedly, how is it proposed to cut $10 billion from Medicare when the number of people over age 65 continues to grow?

Mary O. Styrt


Doing the wrong things about crime

Some years back, our family was taking an automobile trip when my pre-teen daughters began to rough-house in the back seat.

I asked the children to stop but the commotion continued. Finally, I pulled off the highway and brought the car to an abrupt stop.

I reached over the back seat, grabbed one of the girls and attempted to pull her over the front seat far enough to swat her behind.

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