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One of the best movies ever made and may be the worst
December 10, 2012 7:25 AM   Subscribe


 
Timely!
posted by El Sabor Asiatico at 7:50 AM on December 10, 2012


Is there more prostitute-murder in this one? Because as great as his nitpicky formalist critique is, I could really do without the jokes about prostitute-murder.
posted by Rustic Etruscan at 7:53 AM on December 10, 2012 [9 favorites]


I think his criticisms this time around are too longwinded and vapid. Wait, that's most times for him, isn't it?
posted by Catblack at 7:57 AM on December 10, 2012 [1 favorite]


In case other people are wondering: yup, more prostitute-murder. Also it's not nearly as clever as the other ones he has done

Also Titanic was, is, and continues to be great.
posted by likeatoaster at 8:07 AM on December 10, 2012


Made it to around 3:00. Never heard of him before today. What a shit. Thanks for sharing.
posted by Pudhoho at 8:09 AM on December 10, 2012


I think this time it's technically manslaughter of a cosplay girl as opposed to murder of a prostitute. Not that this really counts as progress.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 8:13 AM on December 10, 2012


Yeah, his critiques of the Prequels were actually really spot-on but the "dramatic" arc of the narrator sucked. I had the impression that the weird prostitute-murder bit was a way of winking at the audience, as though the actual author wasn't comfortable having an in-depth theory of all the ways the Prequels didn't work on his own, and had to put that critique in the mouth of a weird psycho basement-dweller with misogyny and violence issues (including murder and I think rape).

Which was at once totally unnecessary and not funny and, I think, ultimately undermining of the whole endeavor. The critique is sound, and it's okay to have it. The other stuff, definitely not cool. Please, if you're reading this, cut it out.
posted by gauche at 8:14 AM on December 10, 2012


Gah. Why couldn't he stayed at YouTube? Now I have to jump through hoops figuring out how to stream this to AppleTV or Roku.

And yes, more hacking apart the films, not so much of the women please.
posted by sourwookie at 8:15 AM on December 10, 2012 [1 favorite]


Is there more prostitute-murder in this one?

No. (She's not a prostitute this time.)

The unnecessary side-plot bullshit is a real shame, because Red Letter Media is excellent (possibly the best) at the actual criticism part.
posted by Sys Rq at 8:20 AM on December 10, 2012 [1 favorite]


For those who enjoy his informed criticism but are put off by the over-the-top portrayal of Plinkett, their ongoing Half in the Bag series is great. It does involve Plinkett, but it has less misogyny and more just slovenly behavior.
posted by gilrain at 8:21 AM on December 10, 2012 [2 favorites]


Also, the Half in the Bag criticism gives you a nice two-angle viewpoint: Mike gives you the stodgy, bitter, film school graduate criticism while Jay gives you a somewhat more everyman take on the same films.

I should note that there is some "ironic" misogyny in Half in the Bag, it's just not as frequent or featured as the long-form Plinkett reviews.
posted by gilrain at 8:25 AM on December 10, 2012


The unnecessary side-plot bullshit is a real shame, because Red Letter Media is excellent (possibly the best) at the actual criticism part.

I prefer Film Crit Hulk, but then you have to put up with all caps.

At least Nostalgia Chick has very little gimmicky bullshit built in (unless you could the whole Dark Nella saga).
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 8:25 AM on December 10, 2012 [1 favorite]


I prefer Film Crit Hulk, but then you have to put up with all caps.

Isn't there a plug-in or script or something that gives you properly capitalized (i.e., readable) Film Crit Hulk?
posted by gauche at 8:30 AM on December 10, 2012


and had to put that critique in the mouth of a weird psycho basement-dweller with misogyny and violence issues (including murder and I think rape).

According to Wikipedia, the Plinkett character was created because he found a straightforward review of his own voice a bit dull. I think Stoklasa created a character more rooted in 80s horror and slasher flicks, because that's the genre he is most familiar with, both as a fan and a director.
posted by FJT at 8:31 AM on December 10, 2012 [1 favorite]


I'd say bits they've done (such as this one on the Prometheus box set) have been funny, but the Mr Plinkett reviews get pretty repetitive.
posted by Catblack at 8:32 AM on December 10, 2012


It would be sweet if there was a cut of the Plinkett prequel reviews without any of his stupid murderer stuff. I have seen quite a bit of it, and I'd like to see the rest and show it to my girlfriend, but I have zero interest in that stuff and less than zero interest in exposing her to it.
posted by adamdschneider at 8:37 AM on December 10, 2012 [3 favorites]


but the Mr Plinkett reviews get pretty repetitive.

Yeah, the Internet is kind of odd in that sense. He does the Plinkett reviews about once a year now, but a person that just starts to watch him and wants to watch more, will watch them in a short period of time, and I would imagine it getting repetitive real fast.

It would be sweet if there was a cut of the Plinkett prequel reviews without any of his stupid murderer stuff.

I think it's ironic that we're asking for a cut or an edit of a review of a movie from a director that people dislike for making too many cuts and edits.
posted by FJT at 8:43 AM on December 10, 2012 [1 favorite]


adamdschneider has it right.

I really enjoyed the Star Wars reviews, although I couldn't understand why he thinks rape and treating humans like shit is funny. But i thought he'd realise his mistake and be over that by now.

Wrong.

So as soon as it appeared in this one I turned it off because if he doesn't know that that gag is beyond tasteless, then his opinion that is worth listening to.
posted by devious truculent and unreliable at 8:47 AM on December 10, 2012


for PhoB , The Nostalgia Chick: Titanic, which asks two major questions "How is it that the biggest, most expensive, most money-raking in movie of all time a period romantic drama and why was it made a guy who has included nuclear weapons in all his other movies?"
posted by The Whelk at 8:58 AM on December 10, 2012 [3 favorites]


TW, I have watched all Nostalgia Chicks but I always can be persuaded to watch one again.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 9:12 AM on December 10, 2012


I think it's ironic that we're asking for a cut or an edit of a review of a movie from a director that people dislike for making too many cuts and edits.


I think the irony might be that a critic of the repetitive and unoriginal approaches favored by Hollywood filmmakers felt he needed to throw in the violent death of terrified women to pep up his script a bit...
posted by running order squabble fest at 9:13 AM on December 10, 2012 [7 favorites]


I think it's ironic that we're asking for a cut or an edit of a review of a movie from a director that people dislike for making too many cuts and edits.

I don't know how ironic it is. I have never felt the need to criticize George Lucas for not having enough prostitute murder in his films...
posted by adamdschneider at 9:15 AM on December 10, 2012 [2 favorites]


Are people not getting the fact that the serial killer thing is supposed to be a self-deprecating joke? Like a guy who would film and edit a review of a movie that is as long as the movie is probably some kind of scary obsessive who no one would actually want to be around?

I'll admit that maybe it's a little overdone at this point, but it was unexpected and hilarious in the Star Wars Prequel reviews (which are far more fun to watch than the actual movies).
posted by sparklemotion at 9:16 AM on December 10, 2012 [11 favorites]


On the one hand, everyone complaining about the pointless murder subplot in the review gets boring every time one of his new reviews comes out, but on the other hand, he does add a pointless murder subplot in every review that he does.
posted by empath at 9:16 AM on December 10, 2012 [4 favorites]


devious truculent and unreliable: "So as soon as it appeared in this one I turned it off because if he doesn't know that that gag is beyond tasteless, then his opinion that is worth listening to."

Either his criticism is valid or invalid on its own. The other stuff has no relevance.

I wish he'd at the very least, cut way back on that crap. But his film criticism still stands as basically correct.
posted by Chrysostom at 9:17 AM on December 10, 2012 [2 favorites]


They get the joke but are criticizing the decision to make it, sparklemotion.
posted by gilrain at 9:18 AM on December 10, 2012


Man, watching Lindsay Ellis talk Titanic, I take it back. She's the best. Better than Plinkett or Film Crit Hulk. I mean, the guys are good. But they got nothin' on her.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 9:22 AM on December 10, 2012 [1 favorite]


I have never felt the need to criticize George Lucas for not having enough prostitute murder in his films...

True. Lucas seems to enjoy child murder more anyways.
posted by FJT at 9:29 AM on December 10, 2012 [1 favorite]


Are people not getting the fact that the serial killer thing is supposed to be a self-deprecating joke?

Yes, I get it. There is no tension between "getting it" and "not wanting it in there". I don't find it funny at all, even the first time. Unexpected, yes. Hilarious, hardly.
posted by adamdschneider at 9:29 AM on December 10, 2012 [1 favorite]


Are people not getting the fact that the serial killer thing is supposed to be a self-deprecating joke? Like a guy who would film and edit a review of a movie that is as long as the movie is probably some kind of scary obsessive who no one would actually want to be around?

Yeah, as I state above, in this very thread that you are reading: I get why it's there. I think it is unnecessary and distracting and undermines the effectiveness of the work. On two levels: one is that the author's attempt to put ironic distance between himself and his critique is unnecessary. The second is that the means by which he attempts to achieve this ironic distance is really gross and distracting and too much.

If the author absolutely needed the ironic distance (and I don't believe the work did, but let's allow the author what he needed, too), he could have cut to a house strewn with empty Cheetos bags, they could have had him living in the basement with his mother hollering at him to get a job, he could have been really disturbingly invested in his imaginary friendships with little star wars action figures. That would have achieved the ironic distance he wanted.

But instead, he decided to have his character abuse and murder women.
posted by gauche at 9:30 AM on December 10, 2012 [2 favorites]


I've never minded the whole prostitute-murder act. Mostly because it's make-believe but also because I think a lot of mainstream fiction does more a lot more to denigrate women than the reviews do because the reviews make no serious effort to make Plinkett's actions defensible. He's just a two-dimensional slasher flick villain that gives film reviews. This is why I laugh at his prostitue murder, because its not real and because it's not actually advocating that kind of mistreatment or misogyny in general.
posted by Pseudology at 9:37 AM on December 10, 2012 [2 favorites]


he could have cut to a house strewn with empty Cheetos bags, they could have had him living in the basement with his mother hollering at him to get a job, he could have been really disturbingly invested in his imaginary friendships with little star wars action figures.

I don't see any ironic distance at all. Isn't that how most Web video review critics are in real life?
posted by FJT at 9:44 AM on December 10, 2012


I'm going to go ahead and say that I am not mad about him as a film critic either.

I mean, yes, if you think of film as a clockwork construction of pure plotting, then he is fun, because he's very good at needling out where plot breaks down. And some films are that, and in those instances this is a valid criticism, and he's pretty entertaining about it.

But it's only one way to criticize a film, and an unusually limited one. Worse still, I think it's essentially a derisive approach -- he's as much a produce of the Internet's culture of "everything deserves to be mocked" as anything. Another approach to this would be "How Did This Get Made," which, when it is at its best, is less about mocking the films it discusses and more about celebrating how such magnificent weirdness can come into the world.

A few years ago, in my own criticism, I decided to try an experiment. Whenever something happened in a film that I thought didn't work, or I felt violated some basic rule of storytelling, or something happened that I thought made no sense, I decided to ask myself a few questions. I decided to start out by saying "This thing that I think is a mistake -- what if it is deliberate? What if it's a carefully considered choice? What if I am responding this way because I am being challenged in a way I don't know how to react to? And, if this is the case, how does this improve or distract from my appreciation of the film?"

I think these are useful questions to ask of art anyway. And sometimes you're not actually being challenges, of course. Sometimes you're just faced with the work of an incompetent artist, or a studio system that pushes bad decisions over good ones. But even in those circumstances, these questions allow me to ask why those decisions might have been made, and that's a more interesting question to me than just one of "how is this broken?"

Finally, this approach to criticism runs what I call the "Turkey City Lexicon" problem. This is a codified series of criticisms that developed at science fiction writing conventions, and, while they were intended to address recurrent problem in writing, they also, inadvertently, sometimes simplified criticism to "does it violate the lexicon?" And I see that at playwrighting conventions -- that the play being addressed isn't being addressed as an individual piece, but rather in comparison with a grouping of rules that may not apply in this instance.

And the risk of this is that a too-well-formed piece can be dissatisfying as a piece of art. Because the pleasure of art are the push and pull between the expected and the surprising. But a piece of narrative art that has been too crafted may make everything in its story necessary, and, therefore, unsurprising. I read scripts like this all the time, where the first line of dialogue very literally tells me what the last line of dialogue must be.

And here's another thing. Plot can be boring. It's a fairly artificial construct, and a very formalized one. In our long history of storytelling, careful plotting applies to a very small amount of it, and much of the most evocative storytelling -- such as fairytales in their oral forms, or the original epic myths -- were sort of gormless, based around spectacle, and the rules of the world they took place in were pretty flexible. This idea that storytelling sets rules in place, and those rules must be obeyed? That's pretty squarely neoclassicist, from the 19th century, and Plinkett's criticism is like a demented version of those Victorian theater critics who declared Shakespeare's plays to be problems because they didn't obey the rules of the well-made play.

But film is not a literary genre -- or, at least, it doesn't need to be. It is instead, in many cases, the manufacturing of visual spectacle. And increasingly it has become a machine of visual spectacle in which plotting is a minor partner -- which can be perplexing for audiences, because we come out of several decades of very carefully plotted films, and we often privilege that sort of film when we discuss film excellence. But I find it useful to consider a lot of big budget films to be multimillion dollar versions of the old Flash Gordon movies, where the structure wasn't about cautious plotting, but, instead, setting up visual spectacle, crisis, and cliffhanger. And that's a valid structure, but it's a different structure that "events necessarily and logically lead to other events that necessarily and logically lead to certain conclusions," and demands different criticism than what is being offered here.
posted by Bunny Ultramod at 9:49 AM on December 10, 2012 [13 favorites]


I immediately came here to see if this had more 'Lol murder' content, and apparently it does! I think I'll just skip this one.
posted by anaximander at 9:58 AM on December 10, 2012 [1 favorite]


Those are interesting points, Bunny Ultramod. I think part of the problem might be that the movies that Plinkett reviews -- and that many of us tend to hate, or think are cynical cashgrabs -- aren't willing (or somehow aren't permitted) to "become [a] machine[s] of visual spectacle in which plotting is a minor partner"; they try to shoehorn in a plot from a well-made play but don't commit to it because they're only doing that because they think they have to.

I'd probably (probably) be a lot more forgiving of Michael Bay if he just stuck to robots blowing shit up, because robots blowing shit up looks cool. But the horrendous writing and terrible plotting actively detract from the visual spectacle; they certainly don't enhance it. And take Prometheus, which was completely gorgeous, but in its attempt to replicate plotting was head-clutchingly stupid.

On the other hand, take a movie I unabashedly love: Southland Tales. That movie is batshit wholesale steam-out-of-the-ears fucking nutso bonkers, and does not care one whit for your Victorian plotting conventions or your desire for rationality. And it's mesmerizing, because you learn very quickly to just go for the ride. Or you turn it off. It doesn't throw in a scene every four minutes to try to trick us into thinking we're watching something normal. See also: the films of Miyazaki, Gilliam, Lynch, Malick.

I think the best movies teach us how to watch them.
posted by davidjmcgee at 10:11 AM on December 10, 2012 [3 favorites]


And the worst ones expect us to just not notice that they're half-assing it.
posted by davidjmcgee at 10:15 AM on December 10, 2012 [1 favorite]


I will waste no time in watching this.
posted by mgrichmond at 10:22 AM on December 10, 2012


And here's another thing. Plot can be boring. It's a fairly artificial construct, and a very formalized one. In our long history of storytelling, careful plotting applies to a very small amount of it, and much of the most evocative storytelling -- such as fairytales in their oral forms, or the original epic myths -- were sort of gormless, based around spectacle, and the rules of the world they took place in were pretty flexible. This idea that storytelling sets rules in place, and those rules must be obeyed? That's pretty squarely neoclassicist, from the 19th century, and Plinkett's criticism is like a demented version of those Victorian theater critics who declared Shakespeare's plays to be problems because they didn't obey the rules of the well-made play.

Ehhh.

I've struggled quite a bit with this same question, because I came out of a prose-focused literary tradition and then moved into commercial writing. Initially, I was very, very resistant to any formulaic plotting formulas--the Hero's Journey, the Save the Cat method. And in some ways, I still think that as critical tools, they miss the mark; Blake Snyder was wrong to throwaway scripts which didn't have plot item x happen and moment y.

But at the same time, as a writer, my resistance to "formula" was absolutely a weakness. I was backwards-engineering a lot of it, because I'd read enough to know, vaguely, when things needed to be slow or fast, when "beats" were necessary but not why, because I was focused on prose and then larger themes but I really couldn't take apart stories and put them back together. And because I didn't understand these things, I would write books where people essentially walked up and down hallways through the entirety and then there was a long lightsaber battle and I would point at that and go "plot! action!" and not really understand the tensions necessary to string them together. My characters weren't people but cameras, mostly, for overdescribed setting, or else they were mouthpieces for theme, but they didn't have driving desires because that struck me as "simple"--I thought my characters were complex but they were really just murky.

So I went back to the drawing board and started paying attention to plot formulas. There isn't only one, but there are a ton of them that a writer can use as the framework for a story. The best one I learned in a writing workshop. Write your book this way: "TITLE is a story about CHARACTER, a ROLE who wants GOAL. You'll know she's succeeded when EVENT."

Is that a formula? Sure. But you know what? My books have become phenomenally better since learning to adhere to that formula. I've realized that these commercial gimmicks which I eschewed are actually useful tools for storytelling, and that they can make stories more interesting, more gripping, more appealing. Yes, you can subvert them or deconstruct them, but aren't subversions and deconstructions better when they're knowingly done? When you have the tools to write a standard story but consciously choose not to?

The works that Plinkett reviews are almost entirely commercial genre works for wide audiences. And many of the writers don't have these basic skills in evidence. For example, Lucas wasn't subverting the monomyth in the prequels (that would have been cool). He was constructing a story without decent pacing or characters with whom the viewers could identify. He was creating broken stories, stories that arise not from skill but from an apparent lack. He doesn't need to use standard pacing, plotting, character. But any of those would have improved the work holistically that he created.

And Plinkett's criticisms are spot-on in that respect.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 10:23 AM on December 10, 2012 [27 favorites]


I think his criticisms this time around are too longwinded and vapid. Wait, that's most times for him, isn't it?

So you hated Plinkett reviews before it was cool?
posted by clarknova at 10:25 AM on December 10, 2012 [4 favorites]


So, of the people who don't hate Plinkett's reviews, how does this one rate?
posted by knave at 10:30 AM on December 10, 2012


I'm pretty much halfway on the serial-killer narrative.

For the Star Wars reviews, I thought it was effective because it suited the problems of the movies themselves. The Star Wars prequels are simultaneously violent and bloodless and they have a very strange attitude towards women and relationships: a character who is even worse about these things than the Star Wars movies allowed for a satirical critique of them that, because it was poking fun at its narrator as well as the movies, never came across as heavy-handedly political. The inserts were kept short and a lot of the serial-killer gags were directly relevant to the reviews - for instance, joking about how he doesn't understand relationships because his dates tend to end up in murder but that Lucas's writing of romance still seems odd to him, or that the bad guys' attempts to murder the good guys seem unconvincing from a technical standpoint about which he's ominously well-informed.

By this point, though, I don't like it. At best, it just slows down the reviews with jokes that have grown stale from repetition and less funny through being less apposite. But I'm also finding it both more upsetting and more annoying. I can handle joking about violence against women if it isn't gratuitous, but by the point it absolutely is. It's textbook gratuitous: they're only in there because they suit the character, and the character is not essential for the analysis. A tired joke is boring, but a tired edgy joke is unpleasant.

And even if it isn't upsetting, it's just not funny because it's off the pace. To review a film like Titanic in this way, there would, I think, be two good choices:

1. Use the same character, but keep the gags down to a minimum because they're all played out.

2. Come up with a different character who's appropriate to Titanic.

You could do a lot with a different character narrator. Have him be, say, a corporate psychopath who's unimpressed by the love story because he has no sympathy for people who 'damage property', as 'Plinkett' puts it. Have him be a Godfather-style immigrant gangster who sees the poor characters as saps to squeeze and the rich ones as marks to rob. Have him be a firebrand revolutionary with a sneaking sympathy for anyone violent no matter what side they're on. Or ... well, you get the point.

A character whose nasty behaviour forms a thematic counterpoint to a movie's strengths or weaknesses can add to the review. A character whose nasty behaviour is a hangover from previous reviews is probably best replaced, because at that point it's gratuitous and gratuitous violence against women isn't nice. Having the gimmick be 'subject-appropriate reviewer characters' rather than 'one particular character' would be a more demanding project, but I, at least, would probably enjoy the result more.
posted by Kit W at 10:30 AM on December 10, 2012 [8 favorites]


I've realized that these commercial gimmicks which I eschewed are actually useful tools for storytelling, and that they can make stories more interesting, more gripping, more appealing.

Hey, I don't disagree with you on that. My own writing tends to be pretty naturalistic and I make use of and like the tools of classical storytelling. But, then, I respect the hell out of David Lynch, and, to my particular tastes, I like his most David Lynch stuff most of all, which means Inland Empire. And he could not give less of a shit about any of the niceties of formal storytelling in that, and, when he uses them, it is to set up expectations that he immediately, and almost perversely, ignores.

I think Plinkett would completely lose his mind with Inland Empire. And he wouldn't be alone. The film isn't for everyone, but I'm glad it's out there.
posted by Bunny Ultramod at 10:30 AM on December 10, 2012


I'm going to go ahead and say that I am not mad about him as a film critic either.

Are you talking about Plinkett the character or Mike Stoklasa, the critic?

For Plinkett, I think you have something there, but I think it's because as the character, Plinkett exaggerates this aspect of criticism. There are hints of something more, for example here, where he says that not all movies have to be the same or have the same structure.

For Stoklasa, he seems pretty aware that film is more than just a series of correctly paced plot points strung together. As mentioned earlier, the Half in the Bag reviews are less gimmicky and he doesn't just attack movies based on how closely they hew to a model of storytelling. Both Mike and Jay recommended Prometheus, even with it's problems with plot, and even made fun of the way people questioned the plotholes in the movie.
posted by FJT at 10:32 AM on December 10, 2012 [1 favorite]


The more I think about it, the more the difference seems to me to be one of facility versus mastery. Any schmo can write prose to carry a story which vaguely replicates standard plotting and anyone can also write a script strictly to formula but using both literary and commercial formulas knowingly and skillfully are something else. I see Plinkett as critiquing writers who lack basic facility despite their familiarity with the standard tropes of screenwriting. Film Crit Hulk and Nostalgia Chick get closer to critiques of mastery, though, in discussing things like intention.

Back when I was a grad student, I used to (smugly) tell myself "Control in all things, including control." And I think that's what it is, really. You need to be really skilled to know when it's okay to violate writing 101 precepts like the Turkey City Lexicon. I think a lot of smartypants young grad students try to bypass truly understanding what those precepts are, though. You got to spend a lot of time mixing pigments before you can really paint, you know?
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 10:35 AM on December 10, 2012 [1 favorite]


So, of the people who don't hate Plinkett's reviews, how does this one rate?

It's alright. I think it being about 60% as good as the others is really why people are hating.
posted by clarknova at 10:37 AM on December 10, 2012


You need to be really skilled to know when it's okay to violate writing 101 precepts like the Turkey City Lexicon.

Not necessarily. Not if you're using a different lexicon. The trouble comes when you apply the Turkey City Lexicon to a piece of writing that is drawing from a different writing tradition. And that's where my series of questions come in handy. Sometimes they help me realize when somebody isn't actually violating rules, but is, instead, using a different set of rules.
posted by Bunny Ultramod at 10:43 AM on December 10, 2012


You could do a lot with a different character narrator.

Absolutely, this is totally a gimmick that could be twisted to be more funny if it was more tailored to the different movies being reviewed.

And I totally get that the murderer character joke isn't as funny now as it was on Star Wars -- but the humourless criticism of it as somehow promoting misogyny was just going a little too far.
posted by sparklemotion at 10:44 AM on December 10, 2012 [3 favorites]


Not necessarily. Not if you're using a different lexicon. The trouble comes when you apply the Turkey City Lexicon to a piece of writing that is drawing from a different writing tradition. And that's where my series of questions come in handy. Sometimes they help me realize when somebody isn't actually violating rules, but is, instead, using a different set of rules.

Sometimes, but honestly I think that's relatively rare, particularly with mainstream Hollywood scripts. Ignorance or presumed mastery when someone only has a shallow understanding seems more common.

(I see this a lot when literary writers try to write genre. They violate basic "rules" all the time, and most of it comes from simply not being very well read in the genre in which they're writing. They would likely tell you it doesn't matter, that they come from a different tradition--Atwood isn't a sci-fi writer but a spec fic writer, etc. etc.--but the result is the same: hackneyed, cliched writing.)
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 10:47 AM on December 10, 2012 [1 favorite]


"It's funny because it's shocking" only works, like, twice, and it was getting in the way of the actual criticism, which is entertaining enough on its own. Everyone would have gotten the basement-dweller idea if he had only used the weird voice.
posted by Rustic Etruscan at 10:48 AM on December 10, 2012


Ignorance or presumed mastery when someone only has a shallow understanding seems more common.

Well, this is where I think it is useful for a critic to ask themselves if they aren't guilty of exactly these problems. Because I see perfectly awesome films get shredded all the time by critics who are sure they know what's wrong with it but are incapable of seeing what's right with it. And this is especially common in genre.
posted by Bunny Ultramod at 10:51 AM on December 10, 2012


And I totally get that the murderer character joke isn't as funny now as it was on Star Wars -- but the humourless criticism of it as somehow promoting misogyny was just going a little too far.

The next time one of these gets posted you'll start seeing demands for a trigger warning.
posted by clarknova at 11:02 AM on December 10, 2012 [3 favorites]


How is a serial killer that mails pizza rolls not funny
posted by MangyCarface at 11:07 AM on December 10, 2012 [7 favorites]


And I totally get that the murderer character joke isn't as funny now as it was on Star Wars -- but the humourless criticism of it as somehow promoting misogyny was just going a little too far.

Well, I'd say that 'promoting misogyny' can be a tricky claim to prove, but then on the other hand, there is the issue of being gratuitous.

The way I see it, bigotry is thematic nitroglycerine. If you handle it carefully, you can get some spectacular effects, but if you handle it clumsily, it's going to blow up in your face, and possibly take some bystanders with you. I think it worked in the early reviews, for the reasons I've said, but to keep it going when there's no need for it is ... well, a little casual, considering that it's explosive.

And at the risk of sounding 'orrible righteous, I get nervous when I see casual handling of moral explosives. It seems a bit disrespectful to the subject, like the easy gag has become the only thing that matters, when in reality the subject matters an awful lot to an awful lot of people in some truly awful ways.

I tend to think that jokes about misogyny are okay for what they are as long as there's a point to them, but when there isn't a point - well, exactly what are they promoting? There's no neutral side when it comes to misogyny: you're either for it or agin it, and if you sit the debate out, the effect of your actions is a vote for it. And these later reviews are, at least, not treating misogyny like a serious subject. Even if I don't think there's any malice behind it - in this case what I see is mostly gimmickry and habit - it makes me uncomfortable.

And not, I think, because I'm humourless. A sense of humour also involves knowing when something's not funny - and 'not funny' can have more than one level to it.
posted by Kit W at 11:10 AM on December 10, 2012 [3 favorites]


The one that makes me feel especially complex is the Star Trek reboot review. The one that's just a straight up rape joke, but kind of actually handled well? It took me some thinking the first time I saw it. All "Yes that is a witty and apt observation but it's also a total straight up rape joke BEEP BOOP CANNOT PROCESS [A]BORT [R]ETRY [F]AIL?"

Most of the Plinkett bits are too lame for me to get worked up about. I wish he'd drop them.
posted by You Can't Tip a Buick at 11:18 AM on December 10, 2012


Aside from Police Dog, this is the first movie that he's reviewed I haven't seen. The murderer aspect in this one seems superfluous (more superfluous than usual). Usually he seems to tie the frame-story in to the points he's making in the review, but I didn't feel that happened in this one.
posted by codacorolla at 11:38 AM on December 10, 2012


Well, this is where I think it is useful for a critic to ask themselves if they aren't guilty of exactly these problems. Because I see perfectly awesome films get shredded all the time by critics who are sure they know what's wrong with it but are incapable of seeing what's right with it. And this is especially common in genre.

As a critic and a writer, I disagree that this is common. Or even especially common. I also am at a loss to think of a film reviewed by Red Letter media that was the type of skillful high art that you seem to be talking about. Most are middle of the road commercial films, and their failures as middle of the road commercial films are explained perfectly, even as I acknowledge that the rape and murder stuff within a lot of their criticism is gross.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 11:42 AM on December 10, 2012 [1 favorite]


well there goes my afterwork holiday shopping
posted by Kloryne at 11:51 AM on December 10, 2012


No one who watches these is going to conclude that misogyny and murdering prostitutes is a Good Thing that the viewer needs to try immediately, if not sooner. There is no "promotion" happening here. No actual ladies of negotiable affection were killed in the making of these, and every single person watching them knows that.

In summary, if you object to these based on "promotion of misogyny" then you are not going to get any pizza rolls.
posted by 1adam12 at 12:13 PM on December 10, 2012 [6 favorites]


You know, a few months ago Titanic came on TV and I watched the second half of it. I hadn't seen it for years; come to that, I hadn't really liked it when it came out - I went to see it because it had those people who starred in Heavenly Creatures and What's Eating Gilbert Grape? and I was expecting good performances, instead of the game best-shots they took at that clunky script - but watching it over, having seen Avatar, I realised something else that probably explains why a lot of people don't like it on a level they can't quite explain:

Despite its posturings about good-hearted poverty being better than rich selfishness, it's a film with an incredibly selfish ethos. Like Avatar, it's all about being the guy who knows what's what when everyone else is flailing, who takes control when everyone else is suffering ... and who, under those circumstances, doesn't actually help anyone he doesn't know personally, or indeed help even most of the people he does know personally - whose only real motivation seems to be romance with a woman previously out of his league, and greater opportunity for himself. Somebody who sees the truth of the situation, and then only cares about saving himself and whatever will get him laid.

Rose and Jack lollop over practically every inch of the ship. During this time, how often do we see them make any attempt to help anyone but each other? And of those attempts, how many last more than a second? The human tragedy unfolding before their eyes is viewed by them from a gods-eye view even when they're in the middle of it: you poor foolish doomed creatures, how sadly I watch you suffer while doing nothing about it.

Sully gets on the goodies' side in Avatar - but then right at the end casually mentions that the humans went back to their 'dying world', full of people who are surely not corporate assholes but innocent victims of corporate assholes, and whose fate doesn't interest him in the slightest because hey, he's got a cool new body and a hot girl now.

Cameron has always made films about being the sole survivor of an apocalypse - or at most, one of a small quasi-family unit that survives. His earlier films hid it better, either by limiting the number of people in danger (The Abyss) or having the one person who needs saving be the person who will later lift the human race out of the apocalypse (the Terminator movies). Only caring if one or two people make it out alive was either numerically proportional or a last-hope-for-humanity thing. His two recent films, on the other hand, expect us to root for sole survivors who are explicitly abandoning everyone else to their fate. We're not supposed to care about them because they'll serve humanity later; we're supposed to care because they're ... what? Basically,

a) In love
b) Not as actively unpleasant as the very worst people in the world of the movie

Titanic concealed it better than Avatar - it's mostly just a question of reaction shots and the lack of interest in other characters that the story rushes us past too fast to notice - but the seams were beginning to show. Too much of that 'greatest love story' was less about the love between the characters than about the superiority of those characters to the falling bodies around them. Too much of its real message wasn't 'Love will set you free' or 'Money can't buy happiness', but 'Fuck you, I've got mine.'
posted by Kit W at 12:13 PM on December 10, 2012 [13 favorites]


No one who watches these is going to conclude that misogyny and murdering prostitutes is a Good Thing that the viewer needs to try immediately, if not sooner.

I think you have missed the point.
posted by Kit W at 12:15 PM on December 10, 2012


Funny timing with this getting posted today...I've been catching up on Scorsese's filmography since I realized I've never actually seen several of his movies (watched Cape Fear last week, it is amazing), and I re-watched The Departed for the first time since its theatrical release. It's a really good movie, sustains the cat-and-mouse tension throughout the 2.5 hour run time, and Jack Nicholson's performance is fantastic. The greatest weakness is that DiCaprio is not a good actor, and in the Departed he's surrounded by a solid cast of actors who all do great work in the film. I don't know what Scorsese sees in him (I get that he's easy on the eyes, but I expect Scorsese to work with actors of a certain caliber) and I totally agree with the comment in this Titanic review that Scorsese has ruined movies by casting DiCaprio as the lead. Gangs of New York could've been a masterpiece with a better actor in the DiCaprio role (and get rid of Cameron Diaz while you're at it).
posted by mediated self at 12:17 PM on December 10, 2012


I think Plinkett would completely lose his mind with Inland Empire.

Actually he references Eraserhead as one of a number of genius but outlying difficult films in contrast to Titantic, which though well-crafted (for the most part), is utterly appealing-to-a-maximum-audience middle-of-the-road.

In fact the whole review is less a demolition, as with the Star Wars ones (and the earlier Trek ones) but more trying to work out how the film can be loved and reviled, and be both bad and good, at the same time. Plus prostitute killing and pizza rolls, of course.
posted by fearfulsymmetry at 12:17 PM on December 10, 2012 [3 favorites]


Valid criticism wrapped in unwatchably-offensive shlock. These reviews would be great for sharing and generating intelligent discussion about movies, but unfortunately (for me at least) these reviews are completely unwatchable.
posted by blue_beetle at 12:36 PM on December 10, 2012


There's a subtle suggestion in the video that he will review Star Trek V next, though I still want to see Plinkett's take on the Matrix sequels.
posted by mediated self at 12:50 PM on December 10, 2012


Rose and Jack lollop over practically every inch of the ship. During this time, how often do we see them make any attempt to help anyone but each other? And of those attempts, how many last more than a second? The human tragedy unfolding before their eyes is viewed by them from a gods-eye view even when they're in the middle of it: you poor foolish doomed creatures, how sadly I watch you suffer while doing nothing about it.

Well, Cameron has basically said Jack and Rose's story was a way to get invested in the lives aboard Titanic and the couple's madcap rush all over the ship was his way of showing the vignettes happening to various people during the sinking. Titanic enthusiasts can pick out the various famous moments (the Strausses sticking together, Baker Joughin riding the stern like an elevator, Benjamin Guggenheim dressed in his best and determined to die like a gentleman, etc.) While I would prefer A Night to Remember's less fictional storyline married with Cameron's production values and visuals, you can't deny that Titanic grabbed people in a way ANTR didn't.
posted by entropicamericana at 12:53 PM on December 10, 2012


Because I see perfectly awesome films get shredded all the time by critics who are sure they know what's wrong with it but are incapable of seeing what's right with it.

Watching the Plinkett Titanic review now, and this seems like an even weirder criticism to tuck into this thread in light of that. He spends 26 minutes elucidating the strengths of the film, calls it a special effects masterpiece, and points out the care and deliberation put into it several times. It's pretty even-handed criticism, and actually a fairly well-done review (luckily I've watched enough of these that the gross murder bits are easy to anticipate and skip.)
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 1:05 PM on December 10, 2012 [1 favorite]


Bunny and PhoB, you're both making interesting points about the nature of criticism, but I feel that both of you miss the intent of the Plinkett character as a reviewer. Plinkett isn't fulfilling the same role as Film Crit Hulk, whose mission is explicitly to reduce the sort of Pauline Kael-esque ultrareviews down to the level of pop culture, simultaneously acknowledging his own limitations as a critic while attempting that ambitious form of "look at every angle, acknowledge the intent of the director, develop a whole view of a film and explore how an audience relates to it". His reviews come entirely from a place of love, the sort of nostalgic love you have for a certain kind of film even after you grow too old to fully buy into their magic anymore.

The vitriolic rage that's a cornerstone of the character is a gimmick, but not of the "hate everything" sort you cite, Bunny. I think that in your attempt to respect criticism as a calling, you're doing exactly what you accuse Plinkett of doing and judging him by a "critics metric" that he doesn't fit into. If anything, what really sold the early Plinkett reviews for me was this sense that he was frustrated as much with himself as he was with the actual Star Wars prequels: the hours and hours of formal nitpicking was, in a sense, his attempt to justify his rage, justify this feeling that the franchise let him down, that this thing which he wanted to be wonderful really was bad, his age and experience aside.

If anything, his character's a satire of the "hate everything" crowd – he suggests that what these haters really can't stand is their own age, their loss of innocence, that prevents them from obliviously liking things as simply as they once did. It actually reminded me of something that really bothered me about Yahtzee Croshaw, a video game critic who I'm similarly ambivalent about as I am with the Plinkett character. Yahtzee has a particularly vengeant streak towards "gaming fanboys", and goes out of his way to insist that his reviews are somehow objective proofs that people who like a certain feature of a game are blathering idiots. There's zero acknowledgement that games exist are more than pure technical showmanship – that there are ages and contexts where a certain video game really hits the spot, or where a well-made game just fails to connect – and it's irritating to hear a critic insult me both for liking games he doesn't and not enjoying games that he does. Plinkett, to me, is loads more sympathetic to the movies he reviews; his rage signifies just how much he's trying to love these things which he's no longer capable of enjoying.

He exists wholly within the "Hollywood blockbuster" "genre", which is why he reviews films like Baby's Day Out along with the better-known sludge. And his criticism is "genre"-specific: it's not looking down at blockbusters for being blockbusters, it's looking down at them for thinking that being blockbusters somehow means they don't benefit from tasteful direction or spectacle.

Bunny, your criticism of him rings especially hollow for this reason. Plinkett is fully open about his appreciation of films which experiment with structure: in fact, he cites David Lynch as one of his favorite directors at the start of his very first Star Wars review. He doesn't simply say that a film fails to fit within a rubric: he demonstrates how its failure to fit within said rubric leads to dramatic problems down the line. I mean, this is a guy who's citing the original Star Wars movies as good films, and Star Wars is somewhat problematic in its own ways from a structural point of view. He demonstrates a pretty impressive appreciation of how films connect to their audiences, and why their failings actually matter, not only to the critics but to the people who try to watch these films.

I wish we had more critics like him, whose goals were to criticize things lovingly, rather than to find ways to excuse the failings of the works they love. I like Film Crit Hulk much more when he's being critical, either of a movie or of a particularly idiotic response to a film; loving things makes you blinder to their failings than having the ambivalent feelings which give rise to a good piece of criticism. But plenty of harsh critics are rude for the sake of rudeness, or believe that their particular reason to hate a film justifies being cruel in your condemnation. It's harder to find reasons to hate a thing while still acknowledging completely how passionate you are about it, how much you'd rather be on its side. And that criticism usually gives rise to my favorite sorts of films: the films which manage to be technically proficient, artistically interesting, and still entirely lovable in that childish fanboy sort of sense. The mature reasons to love a film and the immature reasons are not mutually exclusive, and I personally believe that the immature reasons matter a fuck of a lot.

I wish I liked the woman-murdering parts more, but Plinkett's misogyny is neither interesting nor well-written. It would be neat to explore the sorts of Internet woman-hating fallacies through a character like this, but there's nothing inquisitive or deep or remotely necessary to it. It's just an increasingly uncomfortable gag and it's entirely insensitive to boot.
posted by Rory Marinich at 1:05 PM on December 10, 2012 [9 favorites]


I guess the thesis here is that Titanic is the best/worst because it's James Cameron making a cynical attempt to create a technologically impressive spectacle that absolutely appeals to the lowest common denominator (as the RLM guys see it). Cameron is probably able to write jokes that aren't moronic, and probably able to create characters who aren't paper thin caricatures of class stereotypes, but he doesn't want to do that - he wants to make money. His talent shows through in the way that he orchestrates the immense technical aspects of the movie, and even manages to throw in various subtle, small flourishes that show real talent for story telling, but in the end he tells a very generic story which is focus groupped to draw in X% of the action crowd, X% of the teen girl crowd, X% of the date movie crowd, and still maintain status of Oscar-bait.

This is compared to movies which are products of love (the first 3 Star Wars, where Lucas really did want to tell his dumb space opera stories; Hugo, which was a love-letter to film that was ultimately ignored by a wider audience). DiCaprio, a guy who's acting range is 'guy seriously acting in a movie' encapsulates this as a pretty face who performs just well enough to remind us that we're watching a big budget movie, but brings no other appreciable talents to the screen.

A further comparison is drawn to a talentless attempt to do the same thing in the way of Pearl Harbor. Bay is also trying to make the oscar-bait cash grab, but since he's a hack it doesn't work nearly as well.
posted by codacorolla at 1:06 PM on December 10, 2012 [1 favorite]


Well, Cameron has basically said Jack and Rose's story was a way to get invested in the lives aboard Titanic and the couple's madcap rush all over the ship was his way of showing the vignettes happening to various people during the sinking.

Yes, and I'm saying that was a decision that I, as a viewer, found to have some seriously unfortunate side-effects.

I'll rephrase what you quote Cameron as saying to illustration the problem: he decided to treat everybody but the two leads as background vignettes. This meant that the leads could not meaningfully interact with anybody but each other. And made the leads look pretty selfish to viewers like me.

It's one thing for a film-maker to treat characters as vignettes, but the characters treated other characters as vignettes: they gave them a look of pained poignancy and then made no effort to help them. That just doesn't work very well. Character is largely expressed in action, and with actions on those level, there was a limit to how sympathetic they could be made.

If you're introducing fictional characters to a factual setting, there are two ways to go. You can either have them interact with enough other fictional characters that there's a complete story within the fictional setting, or else you can have them interact with the factual characters in a limited way that doesn't disturb the facts. Many historical stories do a bit of both.

My point is that Cameron, on a character level, got the balance wrong. On the one hand, he had them interact with factual characters but overdid the limits: Jack and Rose don't even try and fail to help people. On the other, he didn't create enough other fictional characters for them to affect - in fact, the only ones he did create were all various classes of enemy.

The upshot is that whatever the historical justification, what you see onscreen is two people who in the face of disaster make little to no effort to help anybody but themselves. And that sits badly with their framing as heroes we're supposed to admire and root for.

I know a lot of people did find it engaging. I just wasn't among them, and I wasn't alone. I think it's a sincerely film rather than a cynical money-making ploy - from what I can gather, while Cameron was making it there was good reason to believe it was going to be a financial disaster. And I think he wrote the script based on what he thought would be good rather than what he thought would appeal to the lowest common denominator; I have yet to see that accusation against a writer be proved true, and in any event, from what I've heard him say about the movie it seems more as if his history-geek side simply overruled his character-writing side, that his interest in accuracy got the better of him on a storytelling level.

But like I say, being the smart person who survives while the whole world crashes round you is a recurring story of his, it's a story that needs careful handling if it's not going to come across as too callous a fantasy of superiority, and I found his last two films didn't manage it.
posted by Kit W at 1:21 PM on December 10, 2012


Watching the thing now, and the murder/rape stuff makes this as unwatchable as advertised. But the film criticism is nevertheless so good! Take the line "Water! It's fucking scary!" Well, one, that's really funny, but also two, hey, that is something that actually needs to be said about why Titanic is good despite being terrible.

So frustrating. Yes, I mean, I see what he's done there with content matching form/presentation. But...
posted by You Can't Tip a Buick at 1:56 PM on December 10, 2012


Metafilter: good despite being terrible
posted by nooneyouknow at 1:57 PM on December 10, 2012 [1 favorite]


Well, Cameron has basically said Jack and Rose's story was a way to get invested in the lives aboard Titanic and the couple's madcap rush all over the ship was his way of showing the vignettes happening to various people during the sinking.

I haven't heard that he said that, but it's pretty obvious to me, and I've said before, that the plot was obviously structured so that they could explore the entire ship and thereby allow the audience to witness first hand, as it were, the dramatic aspects. In that sense it's the ultimate movie-as-theme-park-ride. That's a criticism less of Cameron than about what sort of movie people want to see in theaters today, and I'll fully admit my own proclivities are none too noble here.

I don't see that the vignettes are particularly well illustrated; they're more window-dressing. I think Ebert made the point that the narrative was pared down like a D.W. Griffith silent. We focus on these two characters so that we get terribly emotionally invested in their narrative. I don't think you'd get many people coming to see ANTR-style quasi-documentary "cast of thousandshundreds" storytelling nowadays. As much love as I have for Irwin Allen et al., that's an approach that has been roundly rejected and mocked today.

The upshot is that whatever the historical justification, what you see onscreen is two people who in the face of disaster make little to no effort to help anybody but themselves. And that sits badly with their framing as heroes we're supposed to admire and root for.

I know a lot of people did find it engaging. I just wasn't among them, and I wasn't alone.


Well, yeah, there's a billion things I could point to that show how many people did find it engaging. I don't think there's much that's wrong with the story that isn't wrong with a lot of other stories, such as all the movies about Africa or India with white protagonists, or historical sagas that by their very existence privilege the privileged class of their era. Strange women lying in ponds distributing swords, etc. In effect the two characters who become beloved stand in for the 1500 passengers, and the heart of the, uh, narrative is that their deaths should illustrate for us the importance of living our own lives. It's not a bad philosophy overall.

So frustrating. Yes, I mean, I see what he's done there with content matching form/presentation. But...

Yeah, I'm watching the Star Trek (2009) one again. There are a few points where it's hilarious, and others where you just wish he'd shut up and get back to the movie. I, too, wish he could find a way to mediate this snark without being so self-regardingly distracting, which is the case even when he's legitimately funny.
posted by dhartung at 3:10 PM on December 10, 2012


I think Plinkett would completely lose his mind with Inland Empire. And he wouldn't be alone. The film isn't for everyone, but I'm glad it's out there.

Inland Empire is a great film, but I don't think that the problem of the SW prequels is that we've been judging them by the wrong criteria. They don't work not only re plot, but also re spectacle, characters and atmosphere.
posted by ersatz at 3:31 PM on December 10, 2012 [1 favorite]


But film is not a literary genre -- or, at least, it doesn't need to be. It is instead, in many cases, the manufacturing of visual spectacle. And increasingly it has become a machine of visual spectacle in which plotting is a minor partner -- which can be perplexing for audiences, because we come out of several decades of very carefully plotted films, and we often privilege that sort of film when we discuss film excellence. But I find it useful to consider a lot of big budget films to be multimillion dollar versions of the old Flash Gordon movies, where the structure wasn't about cautious plotting, but, instead, setting up visual spectacle, crisis, and cliffhanger. And that's a valid structure, but it's a different structure that "events necessarily and logically lead to other events that necessarily and logically lead to certain conclusions," and demands different criticism than what is being offered here.
The only rule should be, "Don't show contempt for your audience." If your audience is expecting spectacle, give them spectacle. If they're expected an art house period piece, give them an art house period piece.

Totally failing to produce a coherent script is showing contempt for the audience. It's all fine and dandy to play around with plot and characterization if you're Lynch or Cronenberg or someone else who is pushing the boundaries of Hollywood. But if you're making superhero movies or a typical sci-fi flick, you probably don't want to stray far from the three-act structure.
posted by deathpanels at 3:36 PM on December 10, 2012 [1 favorite]


does anyone know the rap song he plays at the end?
posted by cupcake1337 at 11:29 PM on December 10, 2012


Well, yeah, there's a billion things I could point to that show how many people did find it engaging.

I'm sure, but what's the point of saying that? I'm not denying that lots of people found it engaging. All I'm saying is that a lot of other people didn't. Unless you want to get into a numbers battle, which is a pretty bad way of debating the merits of a film, I don't see what 'pointing to' other people who like it proves.


I don't think there's much that's wrong with the story that isn't wrong with a lot of other stories, such as all the movies about Africa or India with white protagonists, or historical sagas that by their very existence privilege the privileged class of their era.


Unless all the extras in them are historical figures who can't be affected by the narrative, I do not think it is the same problem.
posted by Kit W at 11:38 PM on December 10, 2012 [1 favorite]


Gah. Why couldn't he stayed at YouTube? Now I have to jump through hoops figuring out how to stream this to AppleTV or Roku.

Part 1
Part 2
posted by obiwanwasabi at 12:22 AM on December 11, 2012


Cupcake1337 -

it's Charlie Brown Beatz - I Squeeze Gats.
posted by Auden at 3:17 AM on December 11, 2012 [1 favorite]


Here's the album/mixtape it's from:

Charli Brown Beatz - Cocaine City Instrumentals

...no longer available for download, sadly...
posted by Auden at 3:28 AM on December 11, 2012


I wish I liked the woman-murdering parts more, but Plinkett's misogyny is neither interesting nor well-written. It would be neat to explore the sorts of Internet woman-hating fallacies through a character like this, but there's nothing inquisitive or deep or remotely necessary to it. It's just an increasingly uncomfortable gag and it's entirely insensitive to boot.
I can understand why the serial killer gag is upsetting to some people, but if you watch the rest of Mike Stoklasa's films, which heavily lean toward B-movie grade mock-horror, it makes more sense as a one-time gag to liven up what would otherwise be a boring guy talking about Star Wars in a weird voice for two hours. Unfortunately, the Plinkett video became popular, so he had to review other movies with the character, and rehash the gag over and over again. He probably should have found a way out of it by now, but I don't think the intention is to make light of rape or murder. And as far as I know, there is no implication of Plinkett being a rapist in the videos. (Not that it would be terribly out of character, but there's a big difference for me between writing a character who ties up hookers in his creepy basement and suffers no consequences and writing a character who rapes women and suffers no consequences.)
posted by deathpanels at 5:19 PM on December 11, 2012


deathpanels: "(Not that it would be terribly out of character, but there's a big difference for me between writing a character who ties up hookers in his creepy basement and suffers no consequences and writing a character who rapes women and suffers no consequences.)"

In the latest one, he accidentally (?) kills a woman.
posted by Chrysostom at 5:24 PM on December 11, 2012


Btw, Red Letter Media now works on iPhones so you can stream from that to your AppleTV.
posted by smackfu at 7:41 PM on December 11, 2012


deathpanels, even in the first review, there's a lot of serial-killer jokes. It's no one-off. Shots of bloody bathtubs, implications that he murdered his family, talking waffles, and on and on and on. It's offensive, but it manages to annoy more than it offends, which takes some doing. It's the error of killing a joke by repeating it.

You're right: Plinkett probably didn't intend to make light of violence against women. But I think the ad nauseam repetition of the joke effectively does just that.
posted by Rustic Etruscan at 8:03 PM on December 11, 2012


I wish I liked the woman-murdering parts more, but Plinkett's misogyny is neither interesting nor well-written.
...
It's just an increasingly uncomfortable gag and it's entirely insensitive to boot.


here's the thing: a joke can have a Bad Thing in it, but if the point isn't to laugh at the Victim of the Bad Thing then it's not endorsing Bad Thing, insensitive to Victims of Bad Thing, etc.

truly ask yourself if you think the whole point of the woman-murdering parts are about how silly the woman is, pleading for her life, or how insane the Plinkett character is? Do you really think they want you to identify with the dumb, disgusting, violent Plinkett character or the normal, believable, played-real woman? Another layer is the absurdity that there's this crazy rapey murdering guy who ALSO has biting criticism of popular movies.

if you don't think it's funny, fair enough, but it's not helping to suggest that those scenes somehow encourage misogyny.
posted by cupcake1337 at 8:13 PM on December 11, 2012 [1 favorite]


I found this review pretty boring. I don't mind the whole Plinkett serial killer act, but it did feel repetitive at this point. The whole review did. However, I did enjoy having a retrospective on the movie. Without the hook of Plinkett doing it I probably would not have bothered.

I was a teenager when it came out.

I liked everything about Kate Winslet.

I thought Leo did okay, and I'm not a huge fan. I liked him in this and Gangs of New York and Inception and Shutter Island and The Aviator and The Departed and...shit, I think liking someone as the star in five movies is too many to say you aren't a big fan.

All the special effects and action scenes were top notch.

The Celine song was awful.

This just wasn't the type of movie that needed an hour long deconstruction. The best parts for me were the film school stuff when he ran the scenes from the other movies along with the Cameron version to tease out how much of the movie was set up for him on a silver platter, but it didn't (and I think Plinkett agrees) undercut how well the whole thing was done.

(the girl smiling at the signal flares, holy shit, how can you see that and not cry even if it doesn't have modern technology behind the visuals. It's the idea...and that it probably actually happened.)

Plinkett is better at dissecting why movies that should have succeeded didn't, not so memorable with a movie like Titanic that succeeded when it had everything in favor of succeeding.

It had the budget, the producers, the director, the actors...everything it needed. It's supposed to be good! The entertainment from Plinkett comes when he turns to something like the prequels that had all that and inexplicably still failed.
posted by Drinky Die at 8:16 PM on December 11, 2012


"If cancer were pretentious it would be Garden State."

+1
posted by bardic at 11:53 PM on December 11, 2012


if you don't think it's funny, fair enough, but it's not helping to suggest that those scenes somehow encourage misogyny.

This confuses me as a statement, first because it seems that the people saying that it is wrong to suggest that this encourages or promotes misogyny in this thread seem to outnumber considerably any statements to the effect that this is precisely the problem. But mainly because I am not sure the aim of discussion on MetaFilter is to help, or indeed who or what we are supposed to be helping.
posted by running order squabble fest at 5:44 AM on December 12, 2012 [1 favorite]


This just wasn't the type of movie that needed an hour long deconstruction. ... It had the budget, the producers, the director, the actors...everything it needed. It's supposed to be good!

Yeah, but the overwhelming opinion nowadays is that it is a terrible movie. So I do feel it's an interesting question to ask how both be so successful and so hated. (The easy answer is that the haters and the lovers are different people who want different things in a movie.)
posted by smackfu at 5:45 AM on December 17, 2012


Overwhelming?

It's not a deep movie by any means, but it's a tour-de-force of narrative construction. It's a much better film than Avatar, for example (I can't remember a single line of that movie's dialog). By the way, I don't think hated is the same as bad, either. It's good, but at the same time I won't say I love it. Disclaimer: I'm a Cameron fan and The Abyss is one of my favorite genre films.

I really don't see how an honest critic with the slightest understanding of film can call it "terrible". Maudlin, yes. Shallow, even. Middle-brow, spot on. I can continue in this vein. But terrible? That's nonsense.
posted by dhartung at 8:46 AM on December 17, 2012 [1 favorite]


I never said critical opinion, and I said nowadays, so citing critical reviews from the release date isn't very persuasive. But maybe my friends aren't representative of the overall public opinion.
posted by smackfu at 8:03 AM on December 19, 2012




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