A Critic’s Manifesto

I’ve been watching the Rotten Tomatoes score for The Lone Ranger slowly climb from a rather horrific 17% today, and it’s gotten me thinking about critics and reviews and the movie review industry as a whole.  In fact, I read a blurb from one review that stated, “Everyone wants this to be horrible,” and it makes me wonder how much film reviews in the industry are shaped both by what people expect from a movie, what they want to happen to the movie, and what they think people expect and want the reviews to say.  So if you’ll excuse the rambling, unorganized and meta nature of this post, here are some of my thoughts. Continue reading

Analysis: Argo and Filmmakers’ Responsibility

Even before Argo won the Academy Award for Best Picture, Hollywood’s top honor, it was already being plagued by controversy.  (Nevermind the fact that every other nominee was controversial in some way: Lincoln got easy facts wrong, Silver Linings Playbook mishandled mental illness, Beasts of the Southern Wild romanticized poverty, Zero Dark Thirty lied about torture’s effectiveness, Django Unchained was racist and used the n-word too much, Russell Crowe’s singing was horrible in Les Miserables, Life of Pi misrepresented Indians and religion, and Amour advocates assisted suicide and wasn’t even in English!)  It’s nothing unusual for films to encounter controversy, or even to court it, but the debates this year about facts and politics in film have raised questions (none of them new) about the responsibility of filmmakers to the audience.
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2013 Oscars Recap

Another Academy Awards ceremony has come and gone, and overall it was an enjoyable evening.  There were few surprises among the award winners, though I only correctly predicted 16/24 winners correctly (equaling my score from last year, at least I’m consistent).  In addition to there being no real surprises there are also no winners that I feel were not deserving to win; even if I disagree with the outcomes, the awards went to quality films/performances which makes it hard to complain too loudly.  The show itself was enjoyable, if not spectacular, with some wonderful moments and some bits that fell flat, and I was surprised with how much I enjoyed Seth MacFarlane.  Read on to see my thoughts in a bit more detail.
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Review: Argo

The date is November 4th, 1979, and the US Embassy in Tehran, Iran is surrounded by Islamist students and militants.  The Ayatollah had assumed power earlier that year as a result of the Iranian Revolution, deposing the Shah, who had been installed in 1953 as part of US backed military coup.  The Shah fled to the US, where he was being given medical treatment for cancer.  As the protesters outside compound grow in numbers, volume and anger, one man cautiously climbs over the fence and onto American soil.  He is followed by another, and another, and then the chains on the gate are cut, and the entire crowd swarms in.  The US soldiers stationed inside the embassy eventually stand down, not wanting to fire into the civilians and cause a bigger incident.  Eventually 52 American embassy workers are captured, and will remain hostages for 444 days, in what will become one of the defining moments in US-Iran relations.  But what the Iranians didn’t know, was that six Americans escaped, and are on the run. Continue reading