I am continually astounded that the Independent keeps publishing Godfrey Cheshire's reviews, as he manages to miss the boat on films repeatedly. What's worse is that he often perceives the heart of the films he reviews, and then denigrates them by misinterpreting that crucial element.
Recently, he decried Ridley Scott's otherwise much praised American Gangster by suggesting that he couldn't stomach the inconsistency in Frank Lucas' behavior in a key scene—wearing a chinchilla coat when he has otherwise chided his brother to keep a low sartorial profile ("Gang stars," Oct. 31). It is this inconsistency that the entire film is built around, beginning with the first scene, where Lucas sets a man on fire to kill him in an excruciatingly painful manner, then shoots him in the head a split second later to end his misery. Nearly every scene with Lucas emphasizes that he is nothing but contradictions: a businessman who crosses every "t" and dots every "i", but does so in defiance of the law.
Last year, Cheshire dismissed The Departed with a similarly incomprehensible attack; as his friend at the screening noted, that whole cop movie is about men who can't get it up. This is exactly right: The Departed is a nonstop parody of overt masculinity and the displacement of sexual inadequacy into violence, especially in the characters played by Mark Wahlberg, Alec Baldwin and Jack Nicholson. Why does making a movie about inconsistency or a movie about misplaced masculinity make that movie automatically bad? I just can't figure it out.
It seems like Godfrey Cheshire is half a critic—while he can grasp the essence of a film, he can't translate it into an intelligent analysis or accurate recommendation. I hope that you will consider replacing him with someone who can go the entire distance.