I'm aware of today's date, but I think this synopsis from the San Francisco International Film Festival program is meant to be taken seriously:
Saturday, May 3
Hartmut Bitomsky (Germany/Switzerland, 2007)
(Staub). For some, dust is business, for some an obsession, for others merely something to be sloughed off, literally, into the environment. Even if we are not aware of it, we all participate in the subject of Dust. Hartmut Bitomsky's fascinated and fascinating documentary exposes the cyclical and relentless nature of dust in interviews with everyone from scientists uncovering its role in the origins of the universe to artists reveling in the discrete beauty of dust bunnies. Throughout, dust is persistent. Whether welcomed or not, it will no doubt always return. -- Rachel Aloy
Oy, Rachel Aloy, I feel your pain. I suspect "the discrete beauty of dust bunnies" will never rival The Discreet Charm of the Bourgeoisie.
It has to be hard to write film-festival program notes. I picture student interns watching gloomy eight-hour Uzbek sagas, scribbling frantically in the dark, and then pacing their garrets in hair-tearing despair. No wonder the capsule reviews are replete with code words (followed by my translations):
Lyrical: I have no idea what the plot was.
Haunting: I spent eight hours in a dark room on a beautiful spring day for this?
Poetic: Couldn't understand a thing.
Exquisitely observed: Boring.
Bleakly beautiful: Bleak.
Richly detailed: Boring.
Meticulous observations: Boorrring.
Minutely detailed: Booorrrring.
Naturalistic: Unattractive naked bodies.
Shows considerable skill: Remembered to remove the lens cap.
Speaking of reviewers' clichés, the New York Times book blog, Paper Cuts, recently listed "Seven Deadly Words of Book Reviewing" and invited readers to contribute their own nominations. So far, 238 comments. My own pet peeve is luminous prose, unless, of course, we're talking about medieval manuscripts. (Hat tip: Verbatim.)
P.S. There sure are a lot of books with "dust" in their titles. I wonder whether film director Hartmut Bitomsky used The Secret Life of Dust or Dust: A History of the Small and the Invisible in his research. (Yes, Amazon gives you a discount if you buy them together!)