Welcome to my movie blog, containing reviews and articles. I've been writing since 2004 - with a short break during 2009.

WARNING: below I will be defending films I haven't seen.

Movie criticism isn't necessarily about criticising things. Films should be judged on two levels - how Good they are, in a Fritz Lang sense, and how Enjoyable, in a Michael Bay sense. This involves taking into account the films target audience, and not being so keen to criticise that you forget it.

It is with that opener I introduce you to Cosmo Landesman, the stingiest critic ever to grace the pages of Culture, and the ONLY person in the known universe who has given I'm Not There anything under five stars.

CL, as he signs himself in the Sunday Times, has been getting on my nerves for well over a year now. He first caught my attention by giving every big new film a bad review. He's the polar opposite of the Hollywood "quote whores" - being overly critical to get noticed.

Now, it could be just because they are all bad. How should I know? I've seen hardly any of them? But when every film reviewed in a full page spread gets bad press, then you've got to be suspicious - especially with Empire and Total Film whispering the opposite in my ear.

Todays Sunday Times offered me the following gems for your entertainment:
  • "Devoid of any visual inspiration of its own, it draws on the cartoon gothicness of the school's creator, Ronald Searle" - CL complains that St Trinians is too faithful to the original for no good reason.
  • "This is the sixth, and hopefully the last, film in the St Trinian's series...may it rest in peace" - can we trust a review by someone who hated the concept in the first place?
  • "there's no narrative you can hold onto; like its subject, this film doesn't have a center", "escapes any meaningful definition" - CL completely misses the point of I'm Not There. The patchwork approach is an attempt to avoid Walk the Line style bio-dullness. I haven't seen this film I'm defending, but Empire has seen it and that's good enough for me. And all of CL's complaints can apply so well to Todd Haynes' earlier Velvet Goldmine that it's like I have seen it.
  • "fantastically boring" - CL disagrees with absolutely everyone.
  • "silly and and undistinguishable" - CL on I am Legend, a film he gives 3 stars.
  • "two stars" - CL on The Kite Runner, that best-foreign-language give-the-kids-Oscars frontrunner you might have heard of. He complains the guilt -> redemption plot is too much of an "American message", and then complains that the adult Amir is getting on with his life like a real person would instead of moping in a strings-and-hankies American style.
  • "This film is neigher a hard-hitting saga abiyt the realities of Afghan life, nor a warm uplifting tale of friendship" - this comment, again on The Kite Runner, offends me deeply. You dislike this film because it doesn't fall into these two particular boxes you wanted it in? Well, if it can't be labelled then it must be bad.
  • "Foster takes us into another world - and it ends up looking just like our own" - clever last line, but I don't see that's a problem at all. Why shouldn't people from Afghanistan react to bad things exactly the same way we do? No, don't answer that.
Reading this back, it looks like I'm overreacting horribly; picking up on out-of-context phrases to damn an innocent reviewer, whose only crime is to disagree with the status quo. Well I don't object to that in principle, I just don't believe him any more. I wish I could find an archive of his reviews...unfortunately, the Sunday Times seem to have different people reviewing online. Perhaps they're as annoyed as I am...


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