Breakin Ankles

Sunday, June 19, 2005

Batman Begins and Snobby Movie Critics

So I saw Batman yesterday, and it definitely lived up the hype. Notorious critic and infamous Hollywood 'it' girl, Mariam Mokri, wrote that it was "Fucking Awesome" -- and I'd definitely have to agree. The action was great, the dialogue worked, and it had a great balance of drama, action, and even humor. The audience even started clapping when it ended! I've never seen that before, has anyone?!

But the reason for this post is to discuss something that I've disliked for ages... snobby movie critics. Via Althouse, I came across a review of Batman Begins from the New Yorker, by one David Denby. Everything I hate about uppity movie critics can be captured in the first sentence alone: "This is an overly methodical and heavy-spirited movie—pop without rapture." Umm.. pardon me, but what the fuck does that even mean?! It's standard fare, however, for these - dare I say- snobby movie critics. With writing like this - "and I miss Anton Furst’s urban-grotesque production design from the first movie—the curious, malign details pulled out of the night" - I can't help but wonder if Denby really saw the movie, or is trying to write poetry. It's annoying that so many movie critics don't really review a movie as much as they engage in a pathetic attempt at psuedo-intellectual babble, writing movie reviews with a thesaurus in one hand, when all they really need is a dictionary opened up to the page containing the word 'pretentious'.

Now you may be thinking, "Homer, well aren't you being pretentious yourself? Does everyone have to like every movie that you do?" Not at all my friends. My beef is not with those who don't share my taste in movies, but with movie critics who are seemingly failed writers, and thus attempt to live out their dreams via their movie reviews. They write nonsense with no substance, and presumably, go into movies like Batman wanting to hate it, lest they think they have something in common with 'common folk'. Writing like a snobby movie critic is actually sort of easy -- all you have to do is write a lot, and say nothing.

Here is an example:

"This movie fails in its attempt to create a heroine worthy of admiration, while disregarding the necessary social constructs the audience would need to understand the heroine's fight against society's apathy vis a vis equality. This begs the question, are we but pawns in the Director's vision of an unjust world, or are we supposed to believe dreams really can come true?" I just made that up and have no idea what it means, but sadly, I can imagine it being a real review for a movie.

And can you imagine going to a movie with one of these uppity critics?

Me: So, did you like the movie?

Critic: Well, I've never laughed so much in my life, but the exploration of the Father's motives seemed at odds with the elegancies of what would have been appropriate in 20th century England.

Me: Umm, the movie was about a kid going away to summer camp in the 1980s. They only show the father for 10 seconds when the kid leaves England to come to America.

Critic: Yes, of course, but why did the Father let him go?

Me: Um, well the kid wanted to go to summer camp, that's about all there is to it. Didn't you say you laughed like you've never laughed before?

Critic: Yes, but this movie creates a new subtext for the genre, one that ultimately fails. That being the case, I didn't like it.

Lastly, I guess it's not surprising that the Batman review is from the New Yorker. Reminds me of the Seinfeld episode where Elaine is on a quest to prove that a comic in the New Yorker isn't funny and doesn't even make sense. When the executive attempts to explain it, the following conversation ensues:

Mr. Elinoff: Well Miss Benes . Cartoons are like gossamer and one doesn't dissect gossamer. heh..hemm..

Elaine; Well you don't have to dissect if you can just tell me. Why this is cartoon supposed to be funny?

Mr. Elinoff: Ha! It's merely a commentary on contemporary mores.

Elaine: But, what is the comment.

Mr. Elinoff: It's a slice of life.

Elaine: No it isn't.

Mr. Elinoff: Pun?

Elaine: I don,t think so.

Mr Elinoff: Vorshtein?

Elaine: That's not a word.....You have no idea what this means do you?

Mr Elinoff: No.



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