“Fish in the Dark” & The Critics Love to Hate

The critics have spoken on Larry David’s Fish in the Dark.

The New York Times: …set postures, lines and deliveries, while throwaway humor has been exaggerated in ways that perversely shrink its impact.

The New Yorker: …sour-voiced schtick…a cynical manipulation of sentimentality and humor.DarkfishThe Wall Street Journal: (Larry David’s) playwriting debut, a poor and embarrassing excuse for the kind of Jewish humor that went out of fashion with Gertrude Berg, (is) bursting at the moldy seams with embalming fluid.

It’s not as if Larry David made any highfalutin’ claims. “I saw Nora Ephron’s play, Lucky Guy. I just thought, ‘That must be a really interesting thing to do.”54c16d2f10516d590a7b15ac_fish-in-the-dark-larry-david-broadway-vf02

The hate from New York’s papers is perhaps best summed up by the theater critic in Alejandro González Iñárritu’s BirdmanI’m gonna turn in the worst review anyone has ever read and I’m gonna close your play. Birdman-Michael-Keaton-Underwear-Times-Square-NYC-Film-Locations-43rd-Street-Times-Square-St.-James-Theatre-Hotel-Edison-Rum-House-3Would you like to know why? Because I hate you and everyone you represent. Entitled, selfish, spoiled children. Blissfully untrained, unversed and unprepared to even attempt real art. Handing each other awards for cartoons and pornography.

Luckily, the real-life critics aren’t having so much luck. Larry David’s play has broken box office records and been greeted by constant laughs and ovations every night. article-davidweb-0203Fish in the Dark, as Mr. David is not ashamed to say himself, is “pre-tty, pre-tty good.”

 

“Birdman”: Inarritu’s Unexpected Film of Intelligence

Birdman is not as advertised. It is not a quirky dark comedy, but a claustrophobically relentless attack on modern-day life. birdman-michael-keatonEmma Stone screams it best: “You’re scared to death, like the rest of us, that you don’t matter! And you know what?! You’re right! You’re not important! Get used to it!” birdman-clip-stone-09192014-165429Michael Keaton plays a washed-up super-hero actor who tries to find relevance in his Broadway staging of Raymond Carver’s personally raw What We Talk About When We Talk About Love. Ed loved her so much, he tried to kill her.

Raymond Carver

Raymond Carver

Inarritu’s film is an intense combination of the intellectual – akin to Pirandello’s Six Characters in Search of an Author – and visceral – offering an edit-less flow of images that winds through the serpentine backstage hallways and stairwells of a Broadway theatre, only briefly escaping to a bar, a tight balcony and a nightmarish run through Times Square. birdman-keaton-underwearAnd while the film does tend toward polemics – with everyone, including a theater critic, overtly stating their points of view – it will leave you breathless, wondering what it is you just saw and when you might be able to see it again.