May 23, 2010

Speak of the Devil

Lovely piece of fan mail following the Shrek Forever After review:

Subject: just some more unsolicited email from a reader

Having read a considerable number of the reviews on this website I am
puzzled by the amount of apparent energy given to such self-selected and
self-serving projects as explaining why the Michael Bays and the Shrek 4s
etc etc are crap.


I would think (and we all have our opinions don’t we) a reviewer – that is,
a cinephile – would wash out the terrible aftertaste of a Michael Bay
production with at least a sense of humour (one reason being that we all
knew what the reviewer was getting himself into when at the ticket kiosk,
even if, as it apparently turns out, said reviewer somehow didn’t).

But you seem to take some perverse sense of delight in explaining, quite
seriously it would seem(?), why a Shrek 4 is bad.

What would spur someone to do that with their time? Seriously, the reviewer
comes across in the “review” as depressed, distracted.

You folks seem educated in the worst text-book way - in that you do not know
how to apply it usefully. So you pick on movies as pretext to platform how
much you “know” (Prime case in point: the review of the latest Disney
animated feature (forget the name) in which the “reviewer” bases part of his
critique on the opinion that Disney is “evil”… ya-awn!... I mean - oh
really. Yes yes and Sony is what – “good”?).

You see, you become a cliché. You do the intellectual equivalent of taking
candy from a baby and then seem to take pride in it. What you pass off as
wit is really sophomoric bitching, and is at least partly so because you do
not have sufficient insight into the broader scope of genre to make your
slicing and dicing interesting. So you attach a Disney animation to social
evil and injustice. Give me a break. In this sense you provide humour but
it appears unintentional.

I s’pose I could hang around and wait for your scintillating and searing
reviews of Shreks 5 and 6, but I think I have already read them, at least a
few times.

Say, why not fill up the viewing roster with some interesting cinema. Since
you do the dvd thing why not open up a section of movie classics. Show me
what you know about cinema and what makes you interesting as

Until then, I remain,

- A reader that doesn’t come around much anymore

Of course, I really wish I knew which Disney review ARTDCAMA was talking about, since it seems to be his prime case in point. Maybe The Princess and the Frog? I don't refer to Disney as "evil" in that review; I do, however, refer to it as an institution that knowingly projects a specific image.
What baby are we taking candy from, exactly? The broader insight into the genre that Shrek 4 provides is this ridiculous opinion that you somehow shouldn't talk about children's movies (or action movies, or romantic movies, or horror movies...) seriously. It's not just that they're made for children, but this idea that they're made by children--and, golly gee, they tried their very best and weren't aiming very high anyway. The simple fact is that they're made by adults with their own motives; furthermore, the brains behind Shrek and Disney represent an ineluctable part of American culture that has a voice several million times louder than the average artist/human being.

Shrek the Third had a pretty piss-poor moral (kill anyone who doesn't go along with the program) and it made a mint, as was its primary goal. Shouldn't that be reason enough for concern when the next one comes rolling around?
The same thing applies to those Michael Bay pictures. It's difficult to argue with Criterion's decision to put Bay's films into their Collection because, like it or not, they're cultural touchstones--and I would say the same thing if they decided to bring the
Transformers movies into that fold. (Although I think The Rock is a pretty great picture.) It's important that we talk about these films--and rail against them, should the need arise.

We love movies enough to want to understand them from any number of vantage points. There's no shortage of movie love in what we write, and you'll find that love in our negative reviews just as easily as you'll find it in our positive reviews.
But what ARTDCAMA is suggesting is that we're double-plus-bad eggheads because we watch films that might be terrible, and give them negative reviews if they do turn out to be terrible. That's just not the way it works. "Sophomoric bitching" would entail snarking all over something for the sake of being a snarky asshole, and that's not what we're about. Hell, I'm the guy who gave 2012 three stars--and I meant it.

You need to recognize patterns. You can't understand "good" if you don't understand "bad," and you can't understand artistic context if you don't understand social context.


Patrick said...

If you're passionate about something, you'll both love and hate passionately. To me, reviews like FFC's for the "best" worst films only showcase the love for film that makes you wish the film had been better.

John said...

Whoever wrote that e-mail's a total jackass.

renfield said...

Indeed, y'all are fucking film critics, god forbid you should take your craft seriously!

I tremendously value the attitude with which horror films, animated films, etc are approached. What if Shrek 4 had, through various bizarre twists of fate, butterfly effects, etc, ended up being a witty, subversive film? I would want to know about it, and I guarantee you I would be more likely to find out about it on Film Freak Central than well nigh anywhere else.

Another example: this site isn't the only source in which you can find an exemplary rating attached to Hellboy 2. However, Walter Chaw is one of the only critics that wouldn't begin a 4-star review of H2 by apologizing for the film's genre. "Comic book movies tend to be stupid" or "Surprisingly, it's NOT just dumb action sequences" or something like that.

I really hope that email effects the approach and methodology of this site's critics as little as possible. As the URL suggets, the site is for and by Freaks of the medium, and this turd sandwich obviously isn't one of 'em.

John said...

Did Walter do a H2 review?

Alex Jackson said...

He did a review of Hellboy 2.

John said...

Oh yeah. One of you should put up a H2 review; it would be great to nkow what you guys thought of that movie.

Alex Jackson said...

Finishing up my top ten today and it made the number 3 spot!

Alex Jackson said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
John said...

Cool Killing Spree review!

Deo Ingus said...

honestly, reviews of movies like shrek4 and SATC2 is what i tune in for... the fact that we don't take hollywood movies seriously IS part of the problem. Thanks for debunking the misguided 'taking lollipop f/ a baby' phrase. Let's extend that metaphor by saying that the baby is a baby monster that wreaks havoc in cloverfield.