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Now that's a pan!
December 28, 2004 4:19 PM   Subscribe

And so it came about, this week, that I gazed at a black screen and saw words so calamitous that they might have been written in my own blood: “Screenplay by Andrew Lloyd Webber and Joel Schumacher.” Anthony Lane reviews "The Phantom of the Opera" in the current New Yorker. Now THAT'S how you pan a movie! Does anyone have any other favorite un-favorable reviews?
posted by GriffX (72 comments total) 5 users marked this as a favorite

 
That was pretty good, but for my money, the best negative reviews ever were by Tom Shales, on the (formerly) annual Christmas specials of Kathie Lee Gifford. Sadly, they're hard to find on the web; this Google cache version may work, but in this one (as in few others) Shales pulls his punches.
posted by Zonker at 4:34 PM on December 28, 2004 [1 favorite]


I like all the reviews of Leonard Pinth-Garnell
posted by ParisParamus at 4:41 PM on December 28, 2004


I work for a movie website and collecting pull quotes from negative reviews is a HUGE amount of fun. Critics are never so good as when they're spewing vitriol, and reviews for Phantom were extra juicy. Here were some of my faves:
The Village Voice: If Bob Fosse had a recurring nightmare of being forced to stage a flamenco show in Vegas, this is what it would look like.

LA Weekly: … feels akin to dying and waking up in your parents' easy-listening-radio hell.

The Onion's A.V. Club: … Schumacher pumps up the empty spectacle, stranding his fetching-but-lifeless mannequins amid giant sets and overblown production numbers.

The Guardian: … a film so lifeless and soulless it's almost scary, with actors who glide slowly around, warbling away in their silly outfits, as if being towed on roller-skates.
This week's bad movie seems to be The Merchant of Venice. A couple choice review quotes:
Variety: But Pacino can be a grandstanding actor … he ladles on the shtick, sounding disconcertingly like a Yiddish Yoda.

FilmThreat: Pacino never loses his Bronx diction, so in this case Shylock petitions the court with the demand "I crave da law!" Not since Lucille Ball croaked her way through "Mame" 30 years ago has an actor been so dreadfully wrong for a part.
Related amusement: Defective Yeti's Bad Review Revue archive.
posted by arielmeadow at 4:44 PM on December 28, 2004


When it comes to great bad reviews, I was impressed by this clever panning of Crossroads (the Britney Spears vehicle) written by Flick Filosopher MaryAnn Johanson.
posted by Fourmyle at 4:57 PM on December 28, 2004


Oh, God, that was funny.
posted by WolfDaddy at 5:01 PM on December 28, 2004


I usually try to check out the CAP reviews every couple of weeks.
posted by Tenuki at 5:09 PM on December 28, 2004


[that was awesome]

Nice to see some literacy and true wit in a review, what with all the Maltins out there.
posted by zoogleplex at 5:16 PM on December 28, 2004


My favorite movie review is from the New York Press in the late 90s. Unfortunately it predates their web archive, but here's a scan of the review in its entirety.
posted by Armitage Shanks at 5:17 PM on December 28, 2004 [1 favorite]


Elvis Mitchell usually bugs me, but I liked his line about Battlefield Earth back in 2000: It may be a bit early to make such judgments, but "Battlefield Earth" may well turn out to be the worst movie of this century.
posted by bigschmoove at 5:24 PM on December 28, 2004


/rubs hands with glee/ My favorite topic! I sat nicely through Cats, Starlight Express and something else horrible to keep my mother company. I just love knowing that I am not alone.

Has anyone else noticed Lord Weber's predilection for fascists? Old Possum's book of Practical Cats (each written about a prominent English fascist), Evita? Now a completely banal production of an anti-Semitic (albeit it interesting) play... I know there is something even more sinister in the works. I can see Sarah Brightman as Eva Braum already...
posted by gesamtkunstwerk at 5:28 PM on December 28, 2004


I saw the play on Broadway for the second time just last week. My mother saw the movie yesterday and she commented about how the actor portraying the Phantom in the movie is better than the one on stage, while Raoul and Christine are better on stage. She also mentioned that while the movie had more details, the play had this great effect which was lost in the movie.
posted by riffola at 5:29 PM on December 28, 2004


The Filthy Critic is one of my personal faves when it comes to laying into bad movies.
posted by MrBadExample at 5:31 PM on December 28, 2004


The great Roger Ebert even released a book of his pans.

Some of my favorites (hover to read quotes):
At The Earth's Core;
Mad Dog Time;
North;
Little Indian, Big City;
Erik The Viking; and
Freddy Got Fingered.
posted by Vidiot at 5:32 PM on December 28, 2004


This book review from October is one of my favorites, due to its satisfying harshness (NYT mirror).
posted by mowglisambo at 5:35 PM on December 28, 2004


Finally, a post to pull me out of my tsunami/sontang depression!

Best line: "It reminds us that “The Phantom of the Opera” is a period piece, and that the period in question is not 1870 but 1986, when Lloyd Webber first presented his production to the world. We should not be surprised, then, if this bellowing beast of a movie looks and sounds like the extended special-edition remix of a Duran Duran video."

(And I don't use this ofrten, or lightly: ROTFL!!!)
posted by lilboo at 5:37 PM on December 28, 2004


When I saw the commercial for Phantom of the Opera, I knew something was up when half the quotes they used "praising" the movie were from Larry King. Like I think they quoted him three times, quite strange.
posted by bobo123 at 5:39 PM on December 28, 2004


It's easy to make Anthony Lane say nice things:

"It couldn’t be any better, really, could it?" Now comes Phantom, from "the tasteful genius behind Batman & Robin." Anthony Lane raves, "The plot is impressive..." the show is "so overwhelming in its impact," when given "the necessary treatment," and great roles "played with gusto by Minnie Driver." Shumacher "nods to the inventiveness of Orson Welles and Jean Cocteau" -- so highbrow! And Webber pays homage to "Puccini, whose ghost is clearly summoned." Did you see it? "One had to be there," basking in "the presence of an incontrovertible star"!
posted by RJ Reynolds at 5:55 PM on December 28, 2004


Ah there's nothing like a vitriolic review. You can tell the critics really let loose all that frustration they've built up in the dark.

My fave is Stephen Hunter in the Washington Post. (Though Shales on Kathy Lee took the art form to a whole new level.)

On Alexander: "Then there's Angelina Jolie as Mom. Really, words fail me here. But let's try: Give this young woman the hands-down award for best impression of Bela Lugosi while hampered by a 38-inch bust line. Though everyone else in the picture speaks in some variation of a British accent, poor Jolie has been given the Transylvanian throat-sucker's throaty, sibilant vowels, as well as a wardrobe of snakes.



Cripes, I just discovered he has a fawning fan website. Okay, that's a little creepy. What are the odds he runs it himself?
posted by CunningLinguist at 6:07 PM on December 28, 2004


Brilliant stuff.

One of the more gleefully malicious opening paragraphs in recent memory came from Peter Bradshaw in the Guardian: "In the light of this British-made movie... the urgent debate for our native film industry seems to me to be as follows: should we put the gun barrel to our temples, or in our mouths for a cleaner kill?"

I was also very fond of Wesley Morris's effort in the Boston Globe recently:"The new Oliver Stone movie, Alexander, is full of brilliant highlights, and they're all in Colin Farrell's hair. His coif begins a mere flaxen mop, full of life (and sand), as he smolders through the young-adult years of Alexander the Great. Nearly three hours (and 13 years) later, it's gone wild, turned into the mane of both a warrior and certain Camaro owners. In those salon-treated locks, you can see the movie that Alexander is -- long and unruly -- and the one that it longs to be: layered and unforgettable." In the overcrowded field of snarky Alexander reviews that mention Farrell's hair, it was head and shoulders above the rest.
posted by flashboy at 6:10 PM on December 28, 2004


Great googly moogly, Armitage, that was funny.
posted by googly at 6:10 PM on December 28, 2004


(How can Shales' eviscerations of Kathy Lee not be on the net somewhere? That frightens me.)
posted by CunningLinguist at 6:11 PM on December 28, 2004


Armitage, that was great - thanks!
posted by CunningLinguist at 6:16 PM on December 28, 2004


Yes, a very interesting critique of Phantom. Very interesting indeed.

But why did he miss the most obvious reason for its failure? The complete and utter absence of Michael Crawford! Come on now, Phantom without Frank Spencer? It's bound to fail miserably! :)
posted by kaemaril at 6:23 PM on December 28, 2004


When you really hate a movie, there is no greater feeling than picking up the latest New Yorker and realizing that Anthony Lane has just reviewed it.
posted by bingo at 6:27 PM on December 28, 2004


Did Armitage make a comment that got deleted? Otherwise why are googly and CunningLinguist heaping praise on him?
posted by billsaysthis at 6:41 PM on December 28, 2004


bill: It's here.
posted by gwint at 6:45 PM on December 28, 2004


mowglisambo, oh my that was bracing.

[E]ven after allegedly reading the encyclopedia, Jacobs still doesn't know who Samuel Beckett is, an admission that is almost criminally stupid, even for someone who has written for Entertainment Weekly. A graduate of the prestigious Dalton School in Manhattan and Brown University, Jacobs is a prime example of that curiously modern innovation: the pedigreed simpleton.
posted by jokeefe at 7:49 PM on December 28, 2004


There's a review for the Escalade (a ginormous SUV) that was in C&D(?) that was hilarious and scathing. Seems to have been pulled off the web, though.
posted by five fresh fish at 8:18 PM on December 28, 2004


bobo, it's so funny you mentioned the Larry King quotes... I just made that exact comment to my mother earlier today. Seriously, what's the deal? Couldn't they even find a high school paper to say something nice about this movie?

Another thing that didn't make sense to me: how could this film be "nominated for best original score" (as they claimed in the ad) by ANYONE. It's not exactly original -- those horrific songs have been the soundtrack to my nightmares for at least a decade... "theee phaaaannnnnttoommmm ov the oppurraaa is heeeerrrrrrrrrrreeeeee..." **shudder**
posted by miss lynnster at 8:42 PM on December 28, 2004


The car and driver Viper versus NASCAR was pretty amusing as well (can't find it on the web). To summarize: the viper could out-brake, out-turn, out-handle, and usually out-accelerate the nascar race brick.
posted by mosch at 8:45 PM on December 28, 2004


My favorite bad review: Ebert's skewering of Jaws the Revenge, which contains my favorite line: "And what shark wouldn't want revenge against the survivors of the men who killed it?"
posted by goatdog at 8:51 PM on December 28, 2004


This is a great thread. I have to say thank you to everyone, especially Vidiot and Fourmyle.
posted by puke & cry at 8:57 PM on December 28, 2004


My favorite pan of all time was for a play called "I am a Camera". The review was quite pithy: "Me no Leica" (from critic Walter Kerr)
posted by kamus at 9:09 PM on December 28, 2004


Although I was also fond of this line from the New Yorker. The subject was a singer: "she scraped the fingernails of her ego against the blackboard of her talent"
posted by kamus at 9:12 PM on December 28, 2004


I saw this movie the other day and loved it. . .I had not been exposed much to the play or even the earlier movie, just sorta knew about it by osmosis.

That said, I also loved Lane's review. . .I find it enjoyable to see stuff that I love panned. . .but I guess that's just me.
posted by Danf at 9:15 PM on December 28, 2004


Not a movie review, but I've always been fond of Dorothy Parker's "This is not a book to be set aside lightly. It should be hurled with great force." More on topic, I think it was also Parker who once in a theatre or movie review said something like "Miss Hepburn's acting ran the gamut of emotions from A to B."
posted by pmurray63 at 9:22 PM on December 28, 2004


I first heard Phantom of the Opera in the one stage of life it can be appreciated (childhood), so I like it. (Same reason I like Third Eye Blind.)
posted by Tlogmer at 9:33 PM on December 28, 2004


Tlogmer, I totally relate to that---but even so, I saw Phantom yesterday and there were moments I had to turn my head away it was so bad. And GOD did I love Lane's review---I was so glad he pointed out the horse that lives in the sewer system. That had me guffawing loudly during the movie, as well as the scene where Christine explains to the blonde friend, "The angel, he comes to me at night, and teaches me music behind this mirror." Of course! Anyway, thanks for posting this GriffX!
posted by adrober at 9:55 PM on December 28, 2004


I can't believe they could only pull quotes from Larry King.

Surely the illustrious Earl Dittman must have had something quotable to say?
posted by OhPuhLeez at 10:22 PM on December 28, 2004


Harlan Ellison wrote great reviews, though (I think) they were exclusively of late 1960's and early 1970's television shows. They were anthologized as The Glass Teat and The Other Glass Teat, and are well worth purchasing, even if none of the series criticized are aired today.

Writing about Jack Lord from Hawaii Five-O, he said (paraphrasing) that Jack Lord has all of the acting ability of Al Pacino's left instep.

I don't own the books, and I haven't read them in 25 years, but I think my paraphrasing is essentially accurate. Yes, I still find Harlan's words hilarious (and I wholeheartedly agree, though I feel strangely guilty mocking Jack Lord now that he is dead -- much as I feel guilt when I remember what an incredibly bad actor Christopher Reeve generally was).
posted by Chasuk at 10:24 PM on December 28, 2004


Lloyd Webber has always struck me as anime and manga for middle class middle age nerds.
posted by arse_hat at 11:15 PM on December 28, 2004


If you're an Andrew Lloyd Webber hater -- and hey, who isn't?! -- you simply must see the Jeff Goldblum comedy The Tall Guy (with Rowan Atkinson and Emma "meowr" Thompson, too). It contains a devastating parody of a certain songmeister's oeuvre, in the form of a stage version of The Elephant Man -- down to the posters and coffee mugs.

As for bad reviews, Ebert is still at it -- he called The Brown Bunny "The worst film in the history of the festival. I have not seen every film in the history of the festival, yet I feel my judgment will stand." To Gallo's retort that Ebert was a "fat pig", Ebert confidently responded "I will one day be thin but Vincent Gallo will always be the director of 'The Brown Bunny." Ebert, by the time of his newspaper review, had lost 86 pounds, and found an appreciation of a sort for the re-edited movie. So this review isn't as nasty as that exchange, but one day it will be 404'd, and Roger Ebert will still be the critic who kicked Gallo's ass.
posted by dhartung at 11:56 PM on December 28, 2004


If you're in the UK, the Guardian's weekend TV critic Charlie Brooker is hard to beat: he hates *everything*. One of my favourite Brooker reviews described hard-man soap star Ross Kemp as someone who "could win a staring contest against a man with two glass eyes".
posted by Kasino72 at 1:25 AM on December 29, 2004 [1 favorite]


Everyone I've seen who's panned Phantom of the Opera has rather missed the point. The question isn't "Is Phantom of the Opera a good musical?" The jury returned a verdict on that over a decade ago. The question should be "Is the film a good adaptation of the stage musical?" For many people, I suspect the film represents a way to see the show they've heard so much about without shelling out eighty bucks.
posted by Zair TL at 2:04 AM on December 29, 2004


Brooker's collected reviews, Screen Burn, have just been published. I like Brooker but I prefer his predecessor, Jim Shelley AKA TapeHead, who a collection out: Interference.

And The Guardian's chief film critic, Peter Bradshaw (mentioned above), is also a decent novelist.
posted by ninebelow at 2:42 AM on December 29, 2004


I guess then that I am alone in thinking that reviews like this are utterly shameful. The reviewer has clearly made up his before the film has begun and admits as much in the review. I am anything but a Webber fan, and the film looks like torture to me, but if your job is to review a movie, you should at the very least go in with an open mind. If you are incapable of doing that, you should suggest to your publication that another reviewer attend the screening instead. If you genuinely don't like the movie, fine, but this review is clearly born out of malice rather than objective opinion.
posted by chill at 2:45 AM on December 29, 2004


MetaFilter: one day it will be 404'd

Thanks for that dhartung! :-)
posted by WolfDaddy at 4:07 AM on December 29, 2004


Great critical putdowns:

"Your manuscript is both good and original. But the part that is good is not original, and the part that is original is not good." - Samuel Johnson to anon author

"Wuthering Heights is the blithering pits." - Clive James on a 1978 BBC miniseries

"A bore is starred." Village Voice on A Star is Born

"One must have a heart of stone not to read the death of Little Nell without laughing." - Oscar Wilde on the Old Curiosity Shop

"The scenery was beautiful but then the actors got in front of it" - Alexander Wollcott.

"Two things should be cut - the second act and the child's throat. " - Noel Coward on a play starring an ingenue.


And I've heard anecdotes about two one word reviews: one of a play called "Wham," in which the review was "ouch," and a movie called "Funny" which was reviewed in toto with "Not."
posted by CunningLinguist at 6:07 AM on December 29, 2004


chill: If you are incapable of doing that, you should suggest to your publication that another reviewer attend the screening instead.

Then who in the civilized world, precisely, would even be left to review Phantom of the Opera, if everyone who hated at least Andrew Lloyd Webber, if not his wretchedly overwraught Leroux bastardization in particular, were to pass on it?!

Not to be too contrary, but I think you're missing the point anyway. A "review" in the New Yorker usually isn't about the work being reviewed; it's more often about the wit and style which the writer brings to bear on the topic. I'd doubt most people read New Yorker "reviews" and then decide if they want to see or listen to something...
posted by JollyWanker at 7:25 AM on December 29, 2004


John Wasserman, who reviewed everything from movies to music to live sex shows for the San Francisco Chronicle in the 1970's, once had this to say. His other reviews are not as short but just as awesome or moreso - some of his columns (including this one) can be found in "Praise, Villification, and Sexual Innuendo; or, How To Be A Critic."

A Very Short Review

The Female Animal, a sex film, is playing at the [insert theater name]. If it were a horse, it would be a mare. If a pig, a sow. In this case, it's a bitch.
posted by u.n. owen at 7:26 AM on December 29, 2004


Bad reviews are something MetaFilter does well. Some earlier threads with great quotes: The Cat in the Hat, Gigli, and the inimitable Miguel Cardoso's What's Not To Love About A Good Hatchet Job?

Also, I'm sure we had more than one discussion of M. Night Shyamalan's The Village, but this is the only one I could find.
posted by languagehat at 7:43 AM on December 29, 2004


Two favorite bad reviews: a review for the Broadway musical The Prince of Central Park, in which the reviewer (either Frank Rich or Clive Barnes) said something along the lines of, "In the first act, lovable bag lady Joann Worley befriends a young runaway boy who has taken refuge in Central Park. In the second act, they marry and move to Mars, where they spawn a super-race. No, I am lying. But that actually would make more sense than what really happens onstage in this horrible musical." and a Clive Barnes review of some historical drama in which he began in the persona of whoever the subject was (Thomas Jefferson?) and, after a paragraph or two, said, "But enough of this charade. It is I, Clive Barnes!" and proceeded to pan the living daylights out of the thing.

My brother and I have said "It is I, Clive Barnes!" to each other for the twenty years since we read this review, and it still cracks us up.

Other favorite Dorothy Parker pans: "The House Beautiful is the play lousy" and, in her "Constant Reader" column, writing of Now We are Six, A. A. Milne's best-selling sequel to Winnie the Pooh, "Tonstant Weader fwowed up."

The best "bad review" story: Brooks Atkinson (I think) wrote in a review in the first half of the twentieth century that a certain Broadway performer was "the worst actor on the American stage." The guy sued him for libel, and the lawsuit was eventually decided in Atkinson's favor, the judge opining that Atkinson was a professional theater critic and thus entitled to make a judgment of this sort and express his opinion publicly.

The next time the man appeared on the Broadway stage, Atkinson's review was eagerly awaited. The litigious actor was not mentioned until the last sentence, which read as follows: "Mr. [name]'s performance was not up to its usual standard."

{Note: the critic in question may actually have been Wolcott Gibbs or Kelcey Allen--my memory and Google-Fu are not helping.}
posted by Sidhedevil at 7:51 AM on December 29, 2004


Rotten Tomatoes is worth checking out when a movie is universally panned - they have the best quotes from all the reviews in one handy place. Critical Mass takes it to the next logical step - they take the worst review quotes, and put them on mocked up movie posters. My favourite, from The Master of Disguise, is "You'd be better off tossing your nine bucks in the street and watching people walk by for 80 minutes."

It's quite telling in the UK if you see a movie ad where there isn't a quote from Paul Ross - he's a quote whore who loves everything. Watch out for his name on ads, he's always good for a "best [insert genre here] ever" quote.
posted by ralphyk at 7:57 AM on December 29, 2004


I think my favorite bad review of all time was for a song (my fave movie pan was the already mentioned Ebert review of 'Freddy got Fingered'). Anyway, it was in the Villiage Voice and it was a review of 'Don't Worry, Be Happy' that said what with all the trouble in the world there was only one real response to that song. 'Fuck You'.

Classic
posted by lumpenprole at 8:21 AM on December 29, 2004


I'm shocked that my old fave, Mr. Cranky hasn't been mentioned yet. His review of Good Burger brings the art of the pan to a new level.
posted by jewzilla at 8:50 AM on December 29, 2004


My favorite movie pan is Ebert's recent review of The Village:

"Critics were enjoined after the screening to avoid revealing the plot secrets. That is not because we would spoil the movie for you. It's because if you knew them, you wouldn't want to go."

....

"Eventually the secret of Those, etc., is revealed. To call it an anticlimax would be an insult not only to climaxes but to prefixes. It's a crummy secret, about one step up the ladder of narrative originality from It Was All a Dream. It's so witless, in fact, that when we do discover the secret, we want to rewind the film so we don't know the secret anymore.

And then keep on rewinding, and rewinding, until we're back at the beginning, and can get up from our seats and walk backward out of the theater and go down the up escalator and watch the money spring from the cash register into our pockets."


Just wonderful.
posted by beautifulstuff at 8:55 AM on December 29, 2004


I for one look forward to Broog the Alien Film Critics review.
posted by Justin Case at 9:55 AM on December 29, 2004


I'm shocked (shocked!) that no one has pointed out the genius that is The Self-Made Critic(...)
posted by bshort at 10:16 AM on December 29, 2004


beautifulstuff: Thanks, that's the review I was trying to find in the MeFi archives! What puzzles me is that I distinctly remember quoting the same bit you did, and yet Google doesn't turn it up.
posted by languagehat at 10:16 AM on December 29, 2004


I am surprised that no one mentionned the original Book the Phantom of the Opera, which is
WAYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYY
better than the opera
waaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaayyyyyyyyyyyyyy
better than the movie.
posted by Sijeka at 11:20 AM on December 29, 2004


As languagehat pointed out, The Cat in the Hat inspired some spectacularly creative pans. It's worth repeating the opening paragraph of Gregory Weinkauf's review of the film in the Dallas Observer, as it is an exemplary specimen of the form:

If you're hankering for a movie about an awkward yet lovable "outsider" type who wanders into a pastel mock-up of Middle America and cajoles the straights to get saucy, you're in luck. It's called Edward Scissorhands, and it's been available on video for years. Renting it will absolve you of having to endure Dr. Seuss' The Cat in the Hat, which is, in essence, Edward with a queasy mean streak, no concept of pacing apart from "faster," and such a remarkable rift between its charming source material and its heinous cinematic realization that the producers may as well have skipped the hassle of securing licensing rights and simply called this mess Mike Myers: Asshole in Fur.

I've also always been a fan of Spin magazine's review of Jewel's first book of poetry, which was perhaps 150 words long and limited its discussion exclusively to the quality of the font and other design elements.
posted by gompa at 11:34 AM on December 29, 2004


Good ole interweb - the Jewel book was called A Night Without Armor, apparently, and the Spin review went like this:

Jewel’s collection of poetry has her picture on the front, back, and spine. Inside, the poems are set in a font called Fairfield. It’s a bookish and professional-looking font. Yet it remains friendly, with well-defined (but never excessive) serifs and excellent readability. It’s sort of like the agreeable chardonnay of typefaces. The stem of the lower-case y seems a little frail, but fear not – the j and p are sturdy enough in that regard. The verses themselves tend to start at the top of the page, with the title, and then continue on down. Available on CD: very shiny.
posted by gompa at 11:47 AM on December 29, 2004 [8 favorites]


My favorite bad review, which I unfortunately no longer have a copy of, was for the Burt Reynolds all-star vehicle "Cannonball Run 2," and ran in an obscure Florida newspaper. It contained one line I will never forget. Writing about Shirley Maclaine, the reviewer noted that "her crinkly forearms contrast nicely with Burt's gassy, recently embalmed appearance."
posted by adgnyc at 1:56 PM on December 29, 2004


This line from Manohla Dargis' review (NYT) of "The Polar Express" made my jaw drop-
Tots surely won't recognize that Santa's big entrance in front of the throngs of frenzied elves and awe-struck children directly evokes, however unconsciously, one of Hitler's Nuremberg rally entrances in Leni Riefenstahl's ''Triumph of the Will.'' But their parents may marvel that when Santa's big red sack of toys is hoisted from factory floor to sleigh it resembles nothing so much as an airborne scrotum.
posted by brevator at 3:36 PM on December 29, 2004


sorry, double 'http' on that link. Here you go.
posted by brevator at 3:39 PM on December 29, 2004


Chris Morris in the Independent, on Peter Arnett's "Live From the Battlefield":

Arnett's life began 26 years after he was born, when he found himself swimming the Mekong river to wire out news of the coup in Laos. The unimportance of everything up to that point is clear from the brevity of its documentation (nearly half his life in the first tenth of the book) and the schizophrenia of his writing style. Early years are charted in a stilted prose full of tautologies and misplaced gravitas. Imagine the act of patting your dog described in the style of 'From Our Own Correspondent'.
----------------
What does the book add to our image of Peter Arnett - the man with the face of a leatherback turtle and the brain of a pit bull on steroids? While it mostly rips along like a strafing A-3 jet, it is overhung with a whiff of sadness. A picture emerges of a man with a hole in his life that is filled by war. He is a paradigm for his trade. A man who will surely die strapped to the body of a missile shouting 'blast me into battle - I want to smell the news'.

posted by Sticherbeast at 4:02 PM on December 29, 2004


I was besides myself laughing when I saw today's review of Phantom in the SJ Mercury News. I could have sworn he'd read this thread before polishing up his knife!
posted by billsaysthis at 5:00 PM on December 29, 2004


jokeefe: Jacobs still doesn't know who Samuel Beckett is, an admission that is almost criminally stupid [....]

Seriously! I mean, who *hasn't* seen Quantum Leap?

Chasuk: Harlan Ellison wrote great reviews, though (I think) they were exclusively of late 1960's and early 1970's television shows.

No, he wrote movie reviews as well, collected in Harlan Ellison's Watching. Well worth checking out.
posted by webmutant at 5:36 PM on December 29, 2004


Whenever reading Ebert pan a movie, keep in mind the one he wrote.
posted by jtron at 3:12 PM on December 30, 2004


jtron, those that can, do, and those that can't teachreview. Evidenced by the 300+ moview reviews in my blog and the zero produced screenplays and novels.
posted by billsaysthis at 10:35 PM on December 30, 2004


A bit late in the life of this thread, but I couldn't resist chiming in with one of my favorite pans from the late Pauline Kael, who wrote of Kevin Costner's Dances With Wolves that it should have been called Plays With Camera.
posted by kaseijin at 3:15 AM on December 31, 2004


Many thanks for the Charlie Brooker link. Browsing through his columns, I think we may have a new winner. On a show called "Bo Selecta":
It's just amazingly, hideously, unacceptably, reason-defyingly awful: a 45-minute vomit of mirthless swearing and canned laughter, aimed squarely at the kind of cow-brained retard who spends 98% of their waking life wondering which ringtone to download next. We should be rounding these people up and chemically neutering them, not broadcasting shows in their honour. . . . If I worked on Bo' Selecta, and my parents asked me what I did for a living, I'd lie and say I sat in a dustbin giving blowjobs for pennies. Just to retain some dignity.
posted by Zonker at 9:41 PM on December 31, 2004


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