Stanley Kauffman va rumbo a cumplir 92 años de edad y 50 años de escribir crítica de cine. Yo lo leo desde hace poco tiempo, acaso una década, cuando descubrí sus textos en The New Republic, una revista de la derecha liberal estadounidense. Junto con Andrew Sarris -de casi 80 años y que escribe para The New York Observer- me parece el más lúcido de los críticos de cine norteamericanos. Sarris y Kauffman comparten un estilo similar: una serenidad envidiable, una amabilidad que no está reñida con el rigor, una escritura tersa y elegante. Aquí una muestra de la escritura crítica de Mr. Kauffman sobre una película que nunca se estrenó en México, The Ice Harvest, aunque está disponible en DVD con el nombre de A Sangre Fría:
A painful number of films belong, whatever their subject, in the "Why?" genre. Soon after one of them begins, we begin to wonder why it was made. Why did anyone ever think it had any value, intrinsically or comercially? Many a clunky film lies outside this genre because we can see why someone thought -mistankely- that it had value of some kind. But the "Why?" category is something else. The latest instance is The Ice Harvest.
Reputable people were involved. The co-author of the screenplay, derived from a Scott Phillips novel, was Robert Benton who, from Bonnie and Clyde onward, has been involved in notable pictures. The director was Harold Ramis who made the clever Groundhog Day and the funny Analyze This. The Ice Harvest was apparently meant to be a clever and funny black comedy.
It takes place on Christmas Eve in Wichita, Kansas. A crooked lawyer (John Cusack) steals a couple of million in cash at the start -scanty explanation of how or from whom- but he and his partner (Billy Bob Thornton) cannot drive away with their loot because of an ice storm. Nonetheless, they spend the night driving around Wichita, getting into a lot of tangles, including murder. The whole story smells of feverish manufacture. It includes that boring cliché, the scene in which a couple of men in a nightclub discuss serious business while strippers undulate behind them. It also includes a reminder of the final murder in Prizzi's Honor when a man shoots the woman he is embracing.
Black comedy? Black enough, but they muffed the other word. Robert Benton and Harold Ramis, put on dunce caps and go stand in the corner.
Publicado en The New Republic, el 19 de diciembre de 2005