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I don’t know about you, but I’m enjoying tremendously Manohla Dargis’s film writing in the New York Times, particularly the more freewheeling attitude that runs through her pieces. Her Godard interview of a few weeks back was brilliantly edited. Leaving in his intellectual japes and her bemused ripostes — bits that might have been edited out in the hands of another Times critic — both made the piece entertaining and indicative of Godard’s entire enterprise. In today’s Times, Dargis steps in front of her byline to frankly answer questions from readers. (Registration required.) In response the various queries she raves about Li Yang’s underseen Blind Shaft, canonizes Bad Santa as a new holiday classic, and responds to a reader who asks, “Hasn’t the bar been set too high for a medium that is meant to entertain? Must a film always improve upon the art?”

Her response winds through a great story about a bored Paul Schrader falling asleep during Warren Beatty’s Reds, to a discussion of James Agee, before winding up with the following:

I thoroughly understand the desire for entertainment (really!), but movies were never “meant” to be any one thing. The medium was seized on by opportunistic business types early on, but it was always also a medium for artists, intellectuals and those for whom a life in the movies means something more than just a succession of pneumatic blonds and a swank Beverly Hills address.

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