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Being reminded that cynicism is the mask of the cowed while reading Mark Jenkins’ review of Gladiator (“Clash of the Cretins,” 5/19) gave me an idea for a new contest prize for the Washington City Paper. The winner gets dinner with either Joel E. Siegel or Arion Berger, whose reviews are consistently insightful, knowledgeable but never pedantic. They appreciatively articulate the nuances of story rather than just state a plot line, and they don’t give the impression of having become jaded—which is surely difficult. Their evocative appraisals and analysis regarding the medium’s elements are always instructive. Reading their reviews is as much a pleasure as discussing with an old friend a film just seen, so much so that even if I’ve already watched a movie, I still find their impressions and comments on it an integral pleasure. (Maybe Jenkins could attend movies with an old friend to explain the confusing bits.)

Overall, movie reviews in the City Paper by any of your critics rise high above the opaquely self-involved loaves they brazenly pinch at the Washington Post. Thank your staff for so much enjoyment, and let them all keep up the best work around.

Georgetown