Not At Odds #3 – This Ep Is Overrated!

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This week on NOT AT ODDS Jandy and I discuss our distaste for the term “overrated” and how we shouldn’t be using it in our discussion of film, or any media for that matter. Join us, won’t you?

 

 

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Mega-Mamo #338: More Is Better

Dinner for five! Mamo welcomes THREE special guest stars to a roundtable discussion of Manohla Dargis’ recent contention that the American indie market is overstuffed with product. Row Three’s Kurt Halfyard along with Dave Voigt and Ryan McNeil tell the Matts what’s what.

To download this episode, use this URL: http://rowthree.com/audio/mamo/mamo338.mp3

Mamo #322: The Erstwhile Alex Billington

Mamo returns, having survived the wilds of TIFF ’13 – if “survived” is a word you can apply to a festival where Matt Price announced his retirement from moviegoing and a lunatic film blogger in a press and industry screening called 911 because someone else was using their mobile phone. What kind of a future of movies do you call this?!

To download this episode, use this URL: http://rowthree.com/audio/mamo/mamo322.mp3

Mamo #306: The Death of the Film Critic, Part Deux

Critics reacted to M. Night Shyamalan and Will Smith’s After Earth and fans reacted right back, in the only way they know how: erratically. With more layoffs at “real” publications, and Twitter telling us what we already think anyway, is proper film criticism dead?

To download this episode, use this URL: http://rowthree.com/audio/mamo/mamo306.mp3

Sunday Bookmarks (April 18-23)

 

  • “Film Critic Elvis Mitchell axed from Movieline
    Nikki Finke, who works for Jay Penske, who publishes Deadline and Movieline and hired Mitchell, posted one explanation for why he was fired. For cause, apparently, for an error in his Source Code review. She infers that Mitchell may not have seen the movie, and slipped a reference to something from its screenplay into the review. Several people report seeing Mitchell at a Source Code screening. Sloppy is more Mitchell’s style. More than one of his editors complain about what a pain it was to edit him, especially at The New York Times. He was a much better fit at the LA Weekly.”
  • Ayn Rand’s New Religion for the Righteous
    “John Kenneth Galbraith famously said that “the modern conservative is engaged in one of man’s oldest exercises in moral philosophy; that is, the search for a superior moral justification for selfishness.” That exercise may have reached its limits with the novel Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand, which has become the bible of conservative economic “wisdom” in our time. How did the work of a pro-abortion atheist become so popular with the culture warriors of the right? How do you get people who want to strip Darwin from the classroom to enforce Darwin on the unemployed? How does a book that inspired Anton LaVey’s Satanic Bible wind up on the lips of evangelical Christians waiting in line at the box office?”
  • Blade Runner and Following The Rules
    Rule-following is an extremely powerful technique for manipulating things. Psychology is a form of science that identifies the rules in obedience to which human beings act. Those rules are identified by watching human beings and noting the constancy with which some effect follows some other cause. A human being who experiences something unpleasant will try to avoid it. That is a simple rule. These rules can be applied in reverse. An example is found in movies. An unpleasant or frightening situation can be created by forcing a human being to avoid something. This is why the image of a closed door is frightening in a horror movie. The door obstructs the human being’s view of what is beyond it, and this forced avoidance creates an unpleasant experience of anxiety. By exploiting a simple rule, the person making a film can create an experience in the human being who watches it.” (Thanks Matt Brown for the heads up on this one)
  • Is the video-on-demand business bad for Hollywood?
    “Make no mistake: History has shown that price points cannot be maintained in the home video window. What sells for $30-a-viewing today could be blown out for $9.99 within a few years. If wiser heads do not prevail, the cannibalization of theatrical revenue in favor of a faulty, premature home video window could lead to the loss of hundreds of millions of dollars in annual revenue. Some theaters will close. The competition for those screens that remain will become that much more intense, foreclosing all but the most commercial movies from theatrical release. Specialty films whose success depends on platform releases that slowly build in awareness would be severely threatened under this new model. Careers that are built on the risks that can be taken with lower budget films may never have the chance to blossom under this cut-throat new model. Further, releasing a pristine, digital copy of new movies early to the home will only increase the piracy problem—not solve it.”
  • Filmmaker Jim Mickle Offers a New Take on Vampires
    “Perhaps it is this unusual collection of sources that gives the film its unique flavor, but it’s no accident that “Stake Land” approaches traditional components of vampire and post-apocalyptic films in a new way. Mickle and Damici made a point to focus on humanity over the unhuman.”

 
 

You can now take a look at RowThree’s bookmarks at any time of your choosing simply by clicking the “delicious” button in the upper right of the page. It looks remarkably similar to this:

 

A Film’s “Intent” and “Valid” Film Criticism

I‘m not a film critic. Yes, I write some reviews and have a weekly show in which I sit around and bullshit with my friends about newly released film. In that sense sure, I guess I am a critic. But in that sense isn’t everyone a critic of any form of art or experience they have that they talk about? What I mean is that I’m not paid for what I do. It’s not a career (obviously). I didn’t go to film school and I don’t have a degree in journalism or broadcasting. I’m just a dude with an opinion in which the 21st century allows me to share that opinion with the masses.

So I think it’s time to address something that’s been bugging me for quite some time; an accusation that has been tossed around on our Cinecast (and others) far too often (of which I admit I am equally guilty). This notion that you’re “reviewing the movie not for what it is but what you wanted it to be.” I think that statement can careen down a real slippery slope and in most cases (not all) is totally invalid. Can’t you throw that accusation at anyone for just about any criticism of any movie? Our recent discussion of Rango has spurred these thoughts.

If someone were to say they didn’t like Speed Racer because the dialogue is terrible, I don’t think it’s fair to say, “well that’s just not what the movie was aiming for.” Well maybe not, but that doesn’t mean it’s an invalid criticism. The dialogue is pretty terrible in that movie. It’s hackneyed, elementary and corny. Sure it may be reminiscent of the original animated television show and sure that may be what the producers intended but that doesn’t mean someone has to like it or that it couldn’t have been done better. I personally happen to like Speed Racer quite a bit but I wouldn’t argue with anyone who walks out of the screening and says, “man I just don’t think I could’ve taken one more second of Susan Sarandon’s one dimensional character and her campy acting!” That’s an absolutely fair comment to make.

So yes, that person wanted that movie to be something different. In essence, any review out there that is negative of something is essentially saying just that isn’t it? If the film had done something just a little bit different it might be more positive looking in that particular “critic’s” viewpoint.
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VIFF 09 Review: For the Love of Movies: The Story of American Film Criticism

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Over the last few years, the death of film criticism has been mourned on a semi-regular basis. With the changing times and a shift from print to on-line media, the traditional film critic writing for a newspaper is slowly disappearing. While some critics are moving into the on-line arena, many more are simply walking away from the work in search of something else. Considering the changing tide of the industry, one may assume that Gerald Peary’s documentary For the Love of Movies: The Story of American Film Criticism is an attempt to underline the importance of film criticism though if that was Peary’s intention, he has failed rather miserably at it. One can look, however, at the documentary as a record of the shifting tide of criticism.

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Bookmarks for August 26th

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What we’ve been reading – August 26th:

  • A CRITICAL MOMENT: THREE PERSPECTIVES
    Earlier this year the San Francisco International Film Festival screened Gerald Peary's For the Love of Movies: The Story of American Film Criticism, and followed it up with a free-to-the-public panel entitled "A Critical Moment", moderated by SF360 editor Susan Gerhard. Panel participants included Gerald Peary, B. Ruby Rich, David D'Arcy, Dennis Harvey, John Anderson, Jonathan Curiel, and Mary Pols.
  • The ‘Alt-Canon’ according to the Gospel of Time Out.
    Which 25 movies deserve promotion? David Fear, Joshua Rothkopf and Keith Uhlich make their own list of absolute must-see films.
  • Fanboy $$$
    In the never-ending debate over whether the studios dictate what mass audiences consume or whether they respond to what mass audiences demand, it appears that at this moment in time, they are absolutely meeting the needs of tens of millions of young people across the globe whose tastes are moulded by the internet.