San Francisco Chronicle - (Sunday)

Ask Mick LaSalle: Do you ever reconsider a positive review?

- Have a question? Ask Mick LaSalle at mlasalle@sfchronicl­e.com. Include your name and city for publicatio­n, and a phone number for verificati­on. Letters may be edited for clarity and length.

Hi Mick: I think the two sexiest roles for women in movies are Sharon Stone in “Basic Instinct” and Kathleen Turner in “Body Heat” — and I’m gay, so if those roles got so much of my attention, well ... What do you think?

Marc Rosaaen, Daly City

Hi Marc: I think a gay man gets to comment on such things. But in the current climate, a straight critic would just be called a pig for noticing, say, Norma Shearer in “Private Lives,” Greta Garbo in “A Woman of Affairs,” Theresa Russell in “Bad Timing,” Meagan Good in “Waist Deep,” Valeria BruniTedes­chi in “Les Regrets” and Christy Chung in “Jan Dara.” So, no comment.

Dear Mr. LaSalle: Last night, in search of entertainm­ent, we selected “The Artist.” Thirty minutes in, we realized we didn’t know what we were watching, and we stopped. Later, we read your review from 2011. After such an enthusiast­ic and effusive review, do you ever change your mind?

Lorne Evje, Clayton

Dear Mr. Evje: “The Artist” was my favorite movie that year, so never if I’m that enthusiast­ic. As for not knowing what you were watching — I like that. Instead of thinking there was something wrong with the movie, you decided you were missing something. That’s a response that opens a door, instead of closing one. Why not watch a silent movie from 1927 or 1928, just to get a feel for the period?

Dear Mick LaSalle: Perhaps as soon as we’re maskfree again, The Chronicle will produce a book of the columns you’ve written since the situation began. As they’ve appeared in the Sunday issues, each time I’ve thought “this is the best one yet!”

Sheila Saxby, Walnut Creek

Dear Sheila Saxby: Thanks for being the first reader to notice those columns, not as oneoffs, but as a collective. What’s weird about writing them is that every time I finished one, it sounded more optimistic than how I felt. It wasn’t more optimistic than what I thought, but we live with our feelings even more than our thoughts most of the time, and I found the isolation very difficult. Next time there’s a pandemic, I want to do what the people in Boccaccio’s “The Decameron” did: Get a group of friends, rent a villa in Tuscany and just hang out until it’s over.

Hello Mr. LaSalle: I had a wonderful social studies teacher in high school many decades ago. One of his lessons was on subtle racism in language, how we use phrases like “fleshcolor­ed BandAids” and “whiteknuck­le feeling” that exclude population­s. When you found “Tenet” quasiunwat­chable, you were also “on the edge of your seat.” Rather than use “whiteknuck­led,” use “I was at the edge of my seat.”

Del Bruno, Millbrae

Hello Ms. Bruno: This kind of thinking can be useful, even illuminati­ng. But we should be careful, as a general rule, not to criminaliz­e innocent language. In actual practice, it often becomes a way to change the subject from whatever someone is talking about to another discussion altogether, invariably something to do with the listener’s superior virtue. It’s not as though malicious or unkind speech is at such a dearth that we need to find it where it isn’t — unless the goal is to make people afraid to talk to each other, which I don’t believe either of us thinks is the way to go.

Anyway, I was, in a sense, only talking about myself in the review. And “whiteknuck­led” and “edge of my seat” do mean totally different things. In fact, in this context, they even mean the opposite. If I’d watched “Tenet” on the edge of my seat, I could have fallen asleep and risked hurting myself.

 ?? The Weinstein Co. ?? In “The Artist,” Berenice Bejo is Peppy Miller, a young dancer who develops a relationsh­ip with a film star.
The Weinstein Co. In “The Artist,” Berenice Bejo is Peppy Miller, a young dancer who develops a relationsh­ip with a film star.
 ?? Melinda Sue Gordon / Warner Bros. ?? Elizabeth Debicki and John David Washington star in Christophe­r Nolan’s “Tenet.”
Melinda Sue Gordon / Warner Bros. Elizabeth Debicki and John David Washington star in Christophe­r Nolan’s “Tenet.”
 ?? Chronicle file photo ?? In theory, a person might describe Greta Garbo in “A Woman of Affairs” as sexy.
Chronicle file photo In theory, a person might describe Greta Garbo in “A Woman of Affairs” as sexy.
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