SALINGER, the documentary about a lot of people's favorite American author that was released theatrically earlier this year? In retrospect, this reaction reminds me of the level of nastiness accorded certain other movies -- Matthew Chapman's anti-religion film, The Ledge, or Anne Fontaine's film of Doris Lessing's mothers/sons love story, Adore -- that take the much less "approved" side while tackling taboo topics. After I read a few of the Salinger notices, "Whew," I thought, "this one must absolutely stink!" Guess what? It doesn't. Not at all. In fact, it's a surprisingly rich and interesting documentary about the reclusive author, dead now for almost four years. It offers some genuinely surprising material -- at least to someone like me, who, while not a huge Salinger fan, could admit that the guy's work was certainly worth reading.
American Masters docs, like the recent one on Philip Roth!) Evidently, though, this delving was just too much for some of our more adoring critics, whose reviews seemed to scream, How dare you go there?!. Well, sweeties, Shane Salerno (shown at left) does go there, but not in any more sleazy a manner than have other documentarians who rounded up a bunch of talking heads and let them do their thing on the subject of a man and writer whom they knew pretty well.
Joyce Maynard (shown below) isn't too keen on the man (did anyone expect her to be?), although she certainly was on the writer. Nor is the subject's daughter. But, hell, how often does an artist sacrifice his family on the altar of his art? Let's start counting, and we'll be back in touch tomorrow.