Movie Reviews postsSaturday November 21, 2015
Critic Criticizes Critiquing of Critics
There are a zillion ways to lampoon a film critic, and sadly actor Jesse Eisenberg found exactly zero of them in his Shouts & Mumurs piece, “An Honest Film Review,” in the latest New Yorker.
Apparently critics have been objecting to the piece (and are accused of being thin-skinned), but I question Eisenberg less than The New Yorker, which gave prime real estate to a non-writer. Yeah, I know, Eisenberg's got a book out. Read the piece. He's a non-writer.
According to this post by Sam Adams on CriticWire, Eisenberg says he got the idea after reading a negative review of a Woody Allen movie:
The review said something along the lines of, “Woody Allen makes another movie. This one doesn't really work, but hey, he's doing one a year. Slow down, Wood-man.” And I realized the guy was not criticizing the movie. He was criticizing his own lack of productivity and laziness, vis-a-vis Woody Allen's productivity. But instead he was putting down the movie.
Interesting interpretation. But not mine. Mine goes like this:
- Woody Allen keeps making mediocre movies, year after year.
- Maybe if he took more time (say two years?) the movies might be better.
So not only is Eisenberg's piece lame, it's based upon an incorrect interpretation.
On the bright side, he's got a fallback position.
Blurb Whore Refueled
I haven't thought about blurb whores in a while. I guess I didn't know if they still did them. Why, in a world that doesn't care what critics think?
Then this morning I saw an ad on IMDb.com that called “The Transporter Refueled,” which is getting shitty reviews, “the summer's sexiest action thriller,” or some such. First thought: Isn't it fall already? Second thought: Who the hell said that? Peter Travers? Larry King? Earl Dittman? I looked. And looked. And looked harder:
Can you read it? I zoomed in. And in:
Kyle Something, obviously. From “Made in Hollywood.”
Actually, after some quick searching, Kylie Erica Mar. She interviews celebs. But thanks for making it clear, ad agency.
The movie opened to $2.4 million on Friday, good enough for barely first place. Apparently not enough moviegoers are reading Kyle.
'Erik Lundegaard's Reviews ONLY count...'
I'm not sure when Rotten Tomatoes added the following disclosure, but I noticed it for the first time yesterday:
So please keep this in mind as you're skimming the reviews here. Most of these are not Tomatometer-approved. The Tomatometer does not recognize them. The Tomatometer barely recognizes their reviewer. Understandable, given the author photo.
Back in the Times: 'American Ultra' Review
I have a review of “American Ultra” in the Seattle Times today. Excerpt:
It's “Bourne Identity” meets “Pineapple Express.” Small-town stoner is in reality, and unbeknown to himself, a top CIA assassin. ...
Mike Lowell (Jesse Eisenberg) is the last remnant of a CIA program that turned three-time offenders into assassins, but which is now part of an internecine struggle between its creator, Victoria (Connie Britton), and middle-management douchebag Adrian Yates (Topher Grace), who has his own program, code-named “Tough Guy,” that turns psychopaths into assassins.
When threatened, Mike's pupils dilate and his inner assassin takes over; then he reverts back to vulnerable slacker. He kills two people with a spoon, for example, then needs a hug from his girlfriend. “I have a lot of anxiety about this,” he says, surveying the damage.
That's the sweet spot of the movie, and you do feel for Eisenberg, who's the best thing here. Kristen Stewart is also good. Most everyone else overacts, particularly Topher Grace and John Leguizamo, and not to comedic effect.
It made me think of what worked with the original 1978 “Superman” starring Christopher Reeve. Reeve played it straight, everyone else was a little over-the-top. The difference is that in “Supes” everyone else (Hackman, Perrine, Beatty) was funny and Reeve wasn't (he was heroic). Here, it's still Eisenberg who makes us laugh. The others don't.
Ultimately a missed opportunity.
Quote: 'The Young, Bikini-Clad or Topless Women of Entourage: Who Are They?'
“The young, bikini-clad or topless women partying aboard the yacht where the movie's first scene occurs—who are they? What do they do for a living? What are their aspirations? Who invited them to the party? And why did they go? Is that what it takes for a young woman to succeed in Hollywood? To attend parties run by men with money and power in the hope of appealing to one of them enough to get cast in a role or hired for a job? The men at the center of the movie have repellent attitudes, but there's nothing to suggest that they're violent or coercive. What do they say or do to induce young women to have sex with them?—or, rather, what's in it for the women? What motivates them to have one-night or one-morning or one-afternoon stands with the likes of E.? Why does Emily Ratajkowski (the character) want to be with Vince? For the business? For perceived advantage? To satisfy her own desires? It's the subject of the film—and the movie's director, Doug Ellin (who's also the creator of the TV series on which it's based), doesn't get anywhere near it. ...
”How do the kinds of people seen in 'Entourage' manage to make movies that, by and large, make money—i.e., how do they make movies that large numbers of 'civilians' pay to see? It's a mystery, but it's a mystery that gets to the very essence of life at large and the demonic forces that lurk within most people's hearts. ... In a sense, to damn the fictional world of 'Entourage' is to damn the real world, and to review a popular movie is to review its viewers.
Demonic forces? Just a girl trying to get ahead? Both?