Picks and Pans Review: Reverse Angle

updated 02/15/1982 AT 01:00 AM EST

originally published 02/15/1982 AT 01:00 AM EST

by John Simon

Simon has been a notoriously hard-to-please movie critic for Esquire and New York and is now at National Review. In this collection, which runs from Diary of a Mad Housewife (1970) through Melvin and Howard (1980), he not only reviews the films themselves but discusses movie advertising, other critics and the physical shortcomings of actresses. If he can't say something nasty, he usually cuts it short. He is a self-conscious phrase-maker with a childish love of unwieldy words. Woody Allen is an "existential sniveler" and Ordinary People is "a bit propaedeutic." Brian De Palma's Dressed to Kill was "epigonous piddling." Simon is most controversial in the business for his attacks on actresses: He says Cybill Shepherd, for example, "looks like Mussolini in drag." That sort of stuff may be fun to read but is rarely fair—or relevant. (Potter, $17.95)

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