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Readers' forum: 'The Help'

August 21, 2011
  • Octavia Spencer as Minny Jackson in "The Help."
Octavia Spencer as Minny Jackson in "The Help." (Dale Robinette, ©DreamWorks )

Had it been released 50 years ago, "The Help" might have been the cinematic event of the summer. It has all the elements that once guaranteed critical hosannas, critic Stephen Farber wrote in Calendar a week ago. It is based on a beloved, bestselling novel, has a high-class cast and tackles a socially momentous theme. Yet quite a few reviews have been lukewarm, and Farber argued that today's critics tend to give short shrift to socially conscious narrative middlebrow films.

Here are some of your responses:

Years ago my brother and I ran into Stanley Kramer in Westwood. We told him how much we liked his films and was he doing anything new. He said, "No, they don't make my kind of movies anymore." Hopefully, as Farber has said, there will always be a place in Hollywood for films like Kramer used to make. And critics should realize that movies like "The King's Speech" and "The Help" are as groundbreaking in their own way as films like "The Social Network" and "The Tree of Life" are in theirs.

Steve Barr and Ken Barr

Los Angeles

I have always found more emotion on-screen between two actors talking in a room than all the explosions and quick cuts a director can muster.

Edmund Singleton

The Bronx, N.Y.

Bravo! So much for "There's no market for period pieces"! My current favorite is "Bride Flight," about three young women moving from Holland to New Zealand after WWII.

Kurt Sipolski

Palm Desert

As Billy Wilder once said, sometimes the elements are all there for a good movie and the soufflé just doesn't rise, so to speak. Some critics had opinions that didn't line up perfectly with yours, Stephen. Get over it — that's what makes the world go 'round.

John Wheaties

Via the Web

Frankly, Stephen Farber's comments border on the ridiculous. There are many differences between the critically acclaimed films and "The Help," not the least of which is the saccharine whitewashing of history.

B.G. Hampton

Via the Web

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