Katherine Heigl

How the richness of technology led to the poverty of imagination in American film today.

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The title of The Ugly Truth echoes that of The Awful Truth, the 1937 Cary Grant-Irene Dunne battle-of-the-sexes film that essentially invented the comic-romantic persona that Grant would wear with such panache for the duration of his career. But the movie's true forbear is When Harry Met Sally, which it apes both in broad contour--here, again, a crass Lothario (Gerard Butler) tries to teach an uptight control-freak (Katherine Heigl) that all men are sex-obsessed pigs--and in a variety of particulars.

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      With 1990s films such as Clerks and Chasing Amy, Kevin Smith pioneered the kind of tender raunch that, under Judd Apatow, has come to dominate American comedy. As Apatow himself once put it, “Kevin Smith laid down the track.” Now, though, the train has left the station and, like everyone else, Smith is desperately trying to climb back aboard.

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I'm coming a little late into Chris and Michael's discussion of this, but I watched Dirty Dancing over the weekend, certainly not for the first time ever but possibly for the first time since puberty, and was struck by how thoughtful and realistic the portrayal of abortion is in that film -- far more so than in any of the other films up for discussion (and, um, a tad bit more realistic than the film's own portrayals of how to resolve class conflict or what it takes to be a show dancer).

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