Of late, I’ve had the pleasure of reading some very negative comments made about my reviews. Because blogs are a newfangled, “democratic” medium, I respect my reader’s right to express him or herself that way, but I also reserve my right to respond—as lengthily (or douche-ily) as I please…
Because God forbid we enjoy a ‘pop-corn’ movie without the need to call it ‘dumb.’
I doubt He’d forbid such a thing. In fact, I myself did not call the movie in question (Star Trek) dumb, as the commenter implies. I do, however, stand by my insistence that it is mindless trash entertainment—which I mean only half-pejoratively. There have been a few “popcorn movies” that have not been mindless—Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan, for example, or I Am Legend, or, more recently, Up—but, generally speaking, such movies are designed to be mindless. Movies like Transformers typically don’t interest me because they are made for a mass audience that supposedly prefers movies that treat them like vegetables. Frequently, I, too, enjoy slipping into a coma. On this principle, I enjoyed Star Trek (as I say unequivocally in my review), and I also enjoyed The Hangover. I didn’t feel much need to write about The Hangover, though. I allowed the multiplex to extract its usual pound of flesh from me, but I got exactly what I paid for: enough shards of hilarity to make up for the film’s dumb ethnic stereotypes, clichéd characters, contrived ending, and compulsively current soundtrack of pop songs that one can only enjoy when krunked at a house-party. I welcomed the mindlessness, but that doesn’t mean I should flatter myself by saying that I liked The Hangover because it was anything much more than mindless. In keeping with an age-old tradition that our profit-oriented film industry maintains, popcorn movies are not the most daring or ambitious projects, the kind I usually find to be more worth my while. These rarer movies are not always superior—in fact, some (such as Observe and Report or The Dark Knight) are too stuffy and pretentious or have other failings that bring them below the level of an unpretentiously commercial studio turd like The Hangover—but films such as There Will be Blood or The Wrestler or Synecdoche, New York or Tarsem’s short-lived The Fall were much more interesting than The Hangover, and thus, to me, much more entertaining.
I am conscious, however, that there are those out there who don’t agree with my taste; not only am I comfortable being in a minority, but I accept that movies don’t mean the same thing to everybody, and I’m A-okay with those who subject themselves to Michael Bay movies and honestly enjoy them for what they are. I wouldn’t assume that those people would be compelled to write (or even read) film criticism, as I am. It might well be some form of masochism for a person of those tastes to read my blog; but, as their tortures are self-inflicted, I can’t see how they could possibly dredge up the nerve to howl about their wounds publicly, as if I’d forced them to swallow my opinions and vomit them into the mouths of their young. When next I review a popcorn movie that’s not mindless—maybe around 2019 or so—I’ll make sure to keep this commenter in mind.
can’t spell pretentious without ‘u’ in it. do you even like movies?
I’m actually rather proud of this one. If by “pretentious” you mean “have standards,” then yes, I proclaim to the world, proudly and wholeheartedly, that I am indeed pretentious! Hallelujah! If I wasn’t pretentious as such, it’d be akin to me wanting to hook up with every biped I came across, and I’m not quite that naughty a boy. Though my eloquence (and temper) sometimes fails me, I strive to be fair when defending my sensibility rather than a snob, scold or boor. I simply see no point in praising a film that’s achieved its aspirations if those are very low; you wouldn’t praise a couch potato who insists on using the remote control. After all, I am open-minded enough to like movies—that “popular” medium, that bastard son of “fine” art. A few decades ago, certain very pretentious people claimed to hate all Hollywood movies solely on the virtue that they were dumb enough for those proletarian schmucks to enjoy. So, really, I’m just as much a vulgarian-schmuck as I am pretentious douchebag.
A little sidebar for the commenter: You may not be able to spell pretentious without a “u” in it, but you can’t spell it without an “I,” either.
Another one brainwashed by a text-book and French New Wave.
Which textbook? Advanced Trigonometry? No, probably some “pretentious” tome about how filmmakers could have political viewpoints, or some such nonsense. Ugh! As if the commercial entertainment that seeps into the minds of millions could be worth thinking about! Not thinking about it is tantamount to having your brain washed and rinsed repeatedly. I think I’ve pretty much answered this one already, but will add that I’d lump most of the French New Wave films I’ve seen into that slim, dream-come-true category of movies that are daring and ambitious, intelligently substantial, and—this is the kicker—fun to watch.
[Re: Star Trek]
In saying that the writers’ use of time travel is a cheat, I think you’re being overly harsh. Would you rather they just blatantly ignore EVERYTHING and start COMPLETELY anew like Batman Begins? While that worked for Batman, it would’ve been a million times more insulting to the Star Trek universe. I found their method of “starting over” was incredibly clever and was a way to both pave the way for having new adventures without worrying about keeping canon, but also a way of preserving all the old stories so you don’t have to go “well that’s not how this happens and that doesn’t make sense” when viewing the new film in context with the others.
Also, I was wondering if you ever had any joy in your life at all.
Regarding the first paragraph, the commenter has a point, and I agree with it to some degree. In fact, I have all along, which is why I wrote in my Star Trek piece that “I understand the need for this rupture, but find the methodology crass.” Therefore, the commenter is not really arguing against my point, so much as he or she is arguing beside it.
As for his or her second point—if you want to call it that—I’m pretty sure I’ve experienced joy in my life, though I might be mistaking that sensation for indigestion. (I’ll take some Tums and get back to you on that.) I’ve recorded several instances of joy I’ve had at the movies even in reviews that were mostly negative. For that reason, and others, it is a very strange thing for the commenter to wonder about, and it’s not really much of an insult, to boot. If the commenter is concerned, maybe he or she could get me a prescription for Prozac, or hook me up with some ecstasy. The commenter couldn’t possibly be suggesting that I could ever be so joyful in life as to anonymously post unreasoned ad-hominem attacks on complete strangers simply over a difference of opinion. I don’t know if I’ll ever be that happy.