First, thanks to all the intelligent comments. I'll try to respond to each person:
@GroveReb84: I think it's okay to imagine the lives of dead people; it's one of the things art and artists try to do all the time. But more to the point, I don't know how I would have done things differently. I appreciated the one scene in Somalia that gives the pirates some backstory, but that scene fades as the movie goes on. So one question I kept asking myself is whether that one scene was enough to justify the way the characters ended up looking and acting by the end of the movie. I tried to express these reservations but it looks like I wasn't all that successful.
Here's Armond White, a film critic who's far more certain about what he saw. He drives people nuts, but he's provocative and worth checking out: http://cityarts.info/2013/10/11/shaky-cam-…
@GWCarver: Sorry you disliked it, but I like to think I'll have something even dumber to say about something released in the future.
@Concerned Filmgoer: My only assumption about Memphians is that they like to read interesting film writing, so I try to deliver it. I don't suppose any expertise on Somalia, either. Again, I was more interested in the pirates' portrayal as people on screen, and it seemed to resemble many other simplistic portrayals of Black people in the movies. That bothered me enough to point it out.
@Chaser: Reservations and discomfort about the pirates' portrayal aside, ene thing I'm sure of is that other directors would have been better--like the Dardennes, if they ever got the job. Or Charles Burnett. That was partly why I tried to explain the cursory characterization as part of a larger Greengrass strategy.
Here's my favorite review of the film, which is critical but has room to point out and celebrate Hanks' extraordinary final scenes: http://www.slantmagazine.com/film/review/c…
I like where Osenlund finally landed as well.
I remember writing for Grantland; that was fun. But thank you for pointing me in Wesley Morris' direction. He's good, but I wish he had the space to cover some of the more out-of-the-way stuff he used to do for the Boston Globe.
Again, very cool to hear from you all.
Hey Franklin, we're on the same team! I enjoyed the movie, too.
The "cultural baggage" comment refers to knowledge of the Star Trek universe. I wasn't carrying any ST baggage (I do prefer the old uniforms to the new ones, though), so I suspect I had a better time than hard-core fans who might have felt betrayed by certain reveals, reversals and references. That's what I was trying to say.
In contrast, I've read and thought a lot--maybe too much--about Gatsby. I've also taught Gatsby at least 2 dozen times, so yeah, by now I can recall parts of that book as quickly as I can recall more mundane personal information. I'd say more, but I'm p-paralyzed with happiness because I'm too busy keeping half a dozen dates a day with half a dozen men whose smiles all have that quality of eternal reassurance.
I'm not going to pretend you loved the review, though. I'm over thirty--I'm too old to lie to myself and call it honor.
That sounds like a good idea; wonder what my eds. will think of it?
MARLEY had great music and some very cool interviews/photos, but the man's life story is a bit more complex than the director lets on (or could let on). Still a good doc; CRAZY that it won't get booked in Memphis, though. Maybe later in the summer?
Be sure to see the two new indie/foreign films I reviewed for this week, though. They're easily among the best movies I've seen all year, so check them out while they're in town.
You're absolutely right about Rattigan's own personal connection to the material. I wish I had time/space to do something with it in my review, but other writers had already covered it so I let it go. You know Davies (the director) is also gay, right? He said in an interview I read that he was trying to do a "women's picture" sorta like George Cukor (also gay) used to put out. THE DEEP BLUE SEA certainly belongs with Cukor's best work.
So glad you enjoyed the movie, too. His others--OF TIME AND THE CITY, THE HOUSE OF MIRTH, THE NEON BIBLE (an adaptation of the John Kennedy Toole book, not the Arcade Fire album) THE LONG DAY CLOSES, DISTANT VOICES/STILL LIVES and his "trilogy" of short films--are all well worth finding and enjoying.
Wow. Lots to clarify here:
1. What if my wife and I saw the movie together? And what if my wife agreed with many of the things I wrote about the movie? Does that make her a self-hating misogynist?
2. Who are these male reviewers who "always" denigrate films by women? If I'm one of them, then was this 2009 review of SUNSHINE CLEANING written by someone who used my name as an alias?
I agree with you (I think) in that most movies are made by men for boys, but isn't it a bit unfair to lump one less-than-sunny review in with the opinions of a whole bunch of other menfolks who may be guilty of this? And how does your statement square with Wesley Morris' glowing review of FRIENDS WITH PARENTS from The Boston Globe? Is he not a man then?
2a. Did it matter that I liked BRIDESMAIDS, which was written by Kristen Wiig and Annie Mumalo?
3. Your'e correct, egalia, I have never starred in a Hollywood film. But I never got the memo that making a film was a pre-requisite for film criticism. If that's true, though, then shouldn't this idea be true in all fields? Should the only valid critics of any product be the manufacturers of said product ? If I am uncomfortable in a chair, should I hold my tongue because I've never made my own chair? If I dislike the taste of an omelet, should I refrain from judgment because I can't lay eggs?
4. "If you don't have something nice to say about women, don't say anything." Is that a bumper sticker? And again, what if this were true for all subjects? "If you don't have something nice to say about anything, then keep quiet." Surely you wouldn't want to muzzle critical thinking that you may disagree with, would you?
Here's a bit more info related to your remarks. Both 3D and Cinemascope were tinkered with as early as the 1920s; the first "anaglyphic" 3D feature, called THE POWER OF LOVE, was screened by Harry K. Fairall in 1922 but it has since gone missing. And some of the more inventive directors of the silent era, like D.W. Griffith and Fritz Lang, were masking parts of the frame to achieve widescreen (letterbox) or even pillarbox ( tallscreen?) effects well before Cinemascope was officially rolled out. The two techniques did indeed hit the mainstream at about the same time: HOUSE OF WAX (made by a guy who was blind in one eye, incidentally, which meant that he couldn't really see his own 3D effects) came out in 1953, and THE ROBE in Cinemascope was released in 1954. Both had similarly short heydays as well--about 5 years, which means we have two or three years to go with the current 3D if past trends mean anything. However, we all live comfortably with today's widescreen/'Scope images thanks to the technical innovations in lenses and film stock that helped reduce costs and reduce the wildly distorted vertical or horizontal lines at the edges of early 'Scope frames. I wonder if the tech wizards will succeed in normalizing 3D the way they did in normalizing widescreen.
Dave Kehr of the New York Times and Film Comment has written extensively on this phenomenon. His stuff--especially the article "3D or not 3D", which isn't online--is well worth checking out.
As is this:
Pillow pants, I'll see the Joe Dante version once my local video store reorganizes its inventory. Thanks for the encouragement.
Why is it laughable to discuss a film's formal elements, or to try and examine an otherwise not-terribly-interesting movie as part of a larger trend in film exhibition? I agree that it might have been fun to write about 3D earlier w/r/t CLASH OF THE TITANS or AIRBENDER, but I wasn't assigned those reviews (Frowny-face emoticon). And you know, thanks for registering your disapproval, but PIRANHA 3D as movie trend is way more interesting to me than PIRANHA 3D the bad movie.
As far as "why not stack another element of exploitation on what is already an exploitation film," it seems insulting for moviegoers to pay extra $$$ for bad exploitation films, especially when the extra element doesn't add anything to the movie experience. The one jolt/thrill I got (when the pirahna baby egg drifts in the center of the frame) came from a sound cue and not a visual one. And sound cues have to be the cheapest horror tactic around. Everything else was straight out of the SyFy playbook--SUPERCROC, MANSQUITO, take your pick.
Also, I never felt the need to dodge any vomit/guts/genitals because the 3D was so poorly done, and I tried to address some of that in my review; 3D as it is now looks nothing like human vision, and there's nothing there in most cases to make up for that lack.
Crowd experiences do matter, though. I saw the movie at an unpacked theater in the morning. However, the other folks in the theater were similarly unimpressed.
Finally, I hope that the same community that enjoyed PIRANHA 3D gets together for the 2D glories of THE EXPENDABLES, which is a far more clever/enjoyable exploitation film. Tell your friends!
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