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Write on Rosenbaum

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To the editors:

Reading Jonathan Rosenbaum's retrospective on 1987 ["Ten From '87," January 8] reminded me of how much I've been enjoying his film reviews since he joined your staff. Somehow I haven't managed to get to as many movies over the last year as I'd have liked to, so I didn't catch a lot of the mainstream flicks, let alone some of the more obscure ones Rosenbaum found to list, but I did really appreciate his judgment of Ishtar, a very funny satire which was most unfairly maligned by the critics (and usually on the quite irrelevant grounds of its budget), as well as his remarks on Heaven, another movie that deserved a lot better than it got. Of course the latter was more stylistically innovative than Ishtar, and we all know how the vast majority of American critics (and audiences too, unfortunately) will flee from anything obviously different as from the plague, so that's an explanation (but by no means an excuse) for the denigration of Heaven. May's work, too, always contains subtleties which seem to simply elude most critics, so maybe the same factor of philistinism is operating here as well. But is it just coincidental, in addition, that the directors of both films--Elaine May and Diane Keaton--are women? Or is it that women are only welcomed in the director's chair if they produce conventional and "workmanlike" movies?

But at any rate--I enjoyed reading also about the films I hadn't seen in Rosenbaum's retrospective. And isn't it nice to have someone who's been around a bit, who wasn't born, bred, and lived all his life in Chicago? Yes sir--good to have a perspective that's not limited to the horizons of this most provincial of big cities. Write on, Rosenbaum!

Snavely Sourman

Chicago

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