Several film-crit colleagues and I spent most of last night on Twitter going off on Rex Reed's evisceration of Charlie Kaufman's new movie, "Synecdoche, New York," in his usual "On the Town" column in the New York Observer. (I only wish my Rex Reed-hating boy Jean-Genet would've been in on the fun. And am I the only one who finds it amusing that Reed's column covers film, theater and cabaret?) While I've yet to see the movie (and for all I know, dude could be right), most of us thought that Reed's patented, mean-spirited cattiness was uncalled for. The man just turned 70 this month, and he still writes like a combination judgmental stay-at-home mom/snarky 16-year-old.
But then again, should we expect anything else from that witchy Reed? Being irrationally catty (and being known for his cattiness) has been his bread-and-butter for as long as I remember. Actually having a pulse on what's good and bad cinema — and what's good and bad for the public — was always an afterthought. Even when I used to see him on TV when I was a kid, I said to myself, "This guy would rather be right than informative!"
As always, I look to YouTube for evidence of this and, needless to say, they didn't disappoint. Let me direct to a couple of clips from the Reed archive: The first one a very young, very gaudy, very sleepy-eyed Reed going off on the Oscars, circa 1969, on The Dick Cavett Show. And just listen to him miss the mark on declaring "Midnight Cowboy," which he didn't think would win, as best picture. And then, we have him wearing what I believe is the same jacket on "At the Movies." Some of you may remember he and former Showtime host Bill Harris replaced Siskel and Ebert when Disney gave them their own show in 1986. I'll just let you watch the clip to show you what the program lost when they left. You'll see what it gained — it rhymes with "brattiness."