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January 30, 2006

Albert Brooks, an Acquired Taste

In this week's edition of Blurb Racket—the Gelf feature in which we take a close look at those critic blurbs that are a fixture of ads for movies—see breakdowns of blurbs for Looking for Comedy in the Muslim World, TransAmerica, The New World, and more. This week's winner of the Bogus Blurb of the Week award comes in an ad for Breaking News:

New York Times: "Director Johnnie To is a master of the game."
Actual line: "Mr. To is a master of the game, and his command supplies pleasure, even when there are no surprises."
Actual date: October 17, 2003.
Beware blurbs that make a general statement about the artist, for they can be lifted from reviews of prior works. Usually, though, this practice is confined to book ads. In this case, Gelf's suspicious-blurb antenna immediately was raised because Manohla Dargis's moderately positive review ("a film filled with terrifically choreographed action and very little on its mind") appeared in the same pages as this ad, seemingly defying the laws of blurb physics. So instead, the ad lifts a passage, more than two years old, from Elvis Mitchell (no longer with the Times) about To's PTU.







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