Cinema: Feel Good? We Dare You!

Every so often, there comes a film so manipulative that it has to be a hit. And here comes Billy Elliot

A confession is in order: there are movies whose feel-good sentiments and slick craft annoy me so deeply that I know they will become box-office successes or top prizewinners. I call this internal mechanism my Built-In Hit Detector. I squirm through these masterpieces of emotional pornography, jotting down derisive notes. Oh, if the contrivance is blatant enough, I may get a bit teary; it is, after all, no more difficult for filmmakers to make an audience cry by depicting, say, a child in jeopardy than it is for a lap dancer to evoke an erection in her client. At the end...

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