Monday, May 4, 2009

The Semiotics of "Taut" in Film Reviews

I hate to quote myself, but I don't hate it very much -- this is a comment I entered a brief while ago at The Film Talk concerning State of Play:

State of Play looks every bit as pointless as you say. Not that I'm tracking it closely, but I wonder how many reviewers have used the word "taut" for it? It has the feel of one of those instantly forgettable star-riddled Hollywood crap-fests that get characterized as "taut," when a better and more accurate phrase would be "there was no reason for this ever to be made." I hear "taut" and I think someone in Hollywood needed to pay for a new boat.
And indeed, a quick google search reveals profligate use of the word "taut" in reviews of State of Play. First-page google search results include the following: [a Denver newspaper], The Newton Daily News, RottenTomatoes, The Washington Times, The Bellingham Herald, CinemaSpy, StarPulse, Tri-City Voice, Baltimore City Paper,

Reviewers can't get over how "taut" it is! It's oozing with "tautness"! Granted, RottenTomatoes is an aggregator of other reviews, and some of these links may reference other aggregators, so the listing could be misleading.

It could be misleading, but it isn't. State of Play is almost certainly "taut" in the considered opinion of numerous reviewers, which is to say, soon to be forgotten and not worth spending any money to see.

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