Praise Fail

I was just reading The New York Times on my lunch break, the paper edition, and in the Arts section there was an ad for a new movie — Blackthorn — starring Sam Shepard as Butch Cassidy.

And before I could decided whether or not I liked the idea of reviving this character, who I loved so much as brought to life by Paul Newman in 1969, I read one of the critic blurbs listed in the ad:

“It’s Shepard’s best work since The Right Stuff.”

–Eric Hynes, Time Out NY


I’m sure Hynes meant no offense, given the “it’s his/her best work since ________” line has become film critic boilerplate. And, the rest of the review showers glowing praise on the actor, his suitability for the role, and his performance.

[Director] Gil’s alternative history gets one thing bang-on right: If Butch were to live into his senior days, he’d absolutely have to be played by Shepard. Wrinkled, leathery and densely carpeted in a salt-and-pepper beard, the 67-year-old playwright and actor still exudes intellectual mischief and hard-stare sex appeal; his self-styled ruggedness is a perfect match for an infamous gringo living incognito.

But The Right Stuff came out in 1983! Sam Shepard has acted in over 35 movies in the 28 years since then.

Perhaps a fellow writer like myself should appreciate Mr. Hynes for his unintentional journalism lesson.

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