erik lundegaard

The Worst Movie Review of the Year, Part II

I'm sorry but I couldn't leave this one alone.

There are so many distortions in Kyle Smith's New York Post review of the film “Philomena” that it's hard to deal with them all. It's also difficult to extract the half-truth from the half-lies he's formed around them. 

But let's have a go. Near the end of his review he writes:

Philomena spends the movie saying dumb stuff (at the Lincoln Memorial: “Look at him up there in his big chair!”), Martin is rude and dismissive, and we’re meant to laugh, I guess, at her being a rube and his being a journalist. You may be wondering why Coogan felt the need to play a cold and unpleasant a figure who isn’t (like many other Coogan creations) funny, but the answer is simple: Coogan hates journalists.


  1. Coogan, I imagine, hates bad journalism, particularly tabloid journalism, particularly the awful tabloid journalism revealed in the phone-hacking scandal that sunk News of the World in July 2011. His own phone was hacked, his own private life revealed to sell newspapers, and he's become a strong voice against the practice. He's testified before the Leveson inquiry into unethical journalism and has written Op-Eds for The Guardian about same. 
  2. News of the World was owned by Rupert Murdoch.
  3. Rupert Murdoch also owns The New York Post, for which Kyle Smith writes his reviews.

Look again at the shoddy way Smith raises the phone-hacking scandal without mentioning the phone-hacking scandal. Which, of course, would point back to his boss. Awful. 

More, though, it's Smith's representation of the characters Coogan and Dench play: “a ninny and a jerk” he calls them. Is that all Smith sees? We‘re supposed to laugh at him being rude and her being a rube? No. We identify. I did anyway. He reminded me a bit of me (distant, overly academic)  and she reminded me a bit of my mother (not much formal education, heart of gold). He’s got the education and the words but she's got the wisdom. As here:

Philomena: Do you believe in God, Martin?
Martin: [Exhales] Where do you start? I always thought that was a very difficult question to give a simple answer to. ... Do you?
Philomena: Yes.

What was this to Smith? “90 minutes of organized hate.” “Philomena,” as a movie and a person, is all about forgiveness, but as a movie critic I have trouble forgiving that.

Philomena, starring Judi Dench and Steve Coogan

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Posted at 10:06 AM on Sun. Dec 01, 2013 in category Movie Reviews  


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