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Rant Of The Century
January 9, 2008 10:30 AM   Subscribe

Mark Kermode reviews Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End. "Is that a nest of tables? No, it's Orlando Bloom and Keira Knightley having some red hot passionate embrace that is positively teaky."

More of the good doctor's reviews:
Daddy Day Camp "Excrementally terrible"
Death Proof "A really half-witted idea"
Die Hard 4.0 "Like watching Hits On 45 of action movie clichés"
Good Luck Chuck "This thing is eating my soul from the inside."
Transformers "The aesthetic sensibilities resemble that of someone who has just ingested half a ton of weapons grade plutonium."

But he doesn't hate everything... here he is on Inland Empire and Control and Black Sheep "Money can buy art, but it can't make squishy sheep movies."
Several more on the 'tubes. And catch him weekly via this BBC podcast with Simon Mayo

He also interviews people:
Warren Clarke on a Clockwork Orange set visit
David Cronenberg
Werner Herzog - during which Herzog is shot!
Shane Meadows
Guillermo del Toro
Edward Woodward on a Wicker Man set visit
Neil Young who he now likes but didn’t used to

He's more than slightly obsessed by The Exorcist (Presenting this excellent documentary. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7)
Until very recently he didn't own a television.
He gets mentioned in the odd advert.
Presents his alternative Oscars every year.
And in what remains of his free time he plays bass in an a skiffle band.
posted by fearfulsymmetry (91 comments total) 10 users marked this as a favorite

 
Watch while you, apparently. Both Control and Black Sheep are gone. That's 66% of the links I tried.
posted by DU at 10:36 AM on January 9, 2008


Orbloomdo Land?
posted by Astro Zombie at 10:36 AM on January 9, 2008


Oh. Orloondo Bland.
posted by Astro Zombie at 10:41 AM on January 9, 2008


Lots of unavailable videos. Too bad.
posted by Dr-Baa at 10:41 AM on January 9, 2008


Ah, probably the BBC ones not working stateside? Lots of the them are repeated on this channel.
posted by fearfulsymmetry at 10:46 AM on January 9, 2008


"Keith Richards impression that really wasn't funny the first time"

Boy, he nailed that. I kept turning to my wife and asking "Is he supposed to be drunk? What exactly is the deal with this character?"
posted by DU at 10:47 AM on January 9, 2008 [1 favorite]


reviews Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End.

Oh cool, that just came out, I was wondering how it was.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 10:48 AM on January 9, 2008 [2 favorites]


Wow. This guy sure doesn't like Pirates of the Caribbean.


Seriously. Dude. It's PIRATES OF THE FRIGG'N CARIBBEAN!! You know. Based on a ride at frigg'n DISNEY LAND! What the fuck did you expect?

When this guy goes on about "We all know" and "As we all saw" how bad this movie is? Well. Clearly we ALL don't feel as strongly as he does. Because the franchise gross a Gajillion dollars so obviously MOST people did like it. Which I'm sure makes this asshole feel all cutting edge. "Man. I hate what the masses LOVE!"

I don't know what is more pathetic. Somebody so worked up over a kids movie that he goes off on it for ten minutes without any real insight at all or people POSTING about a guy worked up over a kids movie.
posted by tkchrist at 10:49 AM on January 9, 2008 [2 favorites]


So, let's see: He hammers a bunch of popular movies, but likes a few arthouse flicks.

Sounds like your standard issue pretentious film critic, to me.
posted by lodurr at 10:50 AM on January 9, 2008 [2 favorites]


I actually thought it was pretty amusing. I was especially amused by how little sense the plot made until... ok, well it never made any sense. But Geoffrey Rush was great in it.
posted by lodurr at 10:52 AM on January 9, 2008


so obviously MOST people did like it.

The fact that we paid to see it does not mean that we liked what we saw after we paid for it.
posted by The World Famous at 10:52 AM on January 9, 2008 [14 favorites]


"Is that a nest of tables?"

Reading the FPP I thought this was some sort of reference to malformed HTML.

But why is the <> rum <> gone?
posted by griphus at 10:57 AM on January 9, 2008 [5 favorites]


The fact that we paid to see it does not mean that we liked what we saw after we paid for it.

Also the obsessive compulsives who, after seeing two, will see the third even though the second did kind of suck and even the first wasn't anything to write home about.
posted by DU at 10:57 AM on January 9, 2008 [2 favorites]


those were supposed to be blink tags. dammit.
posted by griphus at 10:57 AM on January 9, 2008


Oh. Orloondo Bland.

Za-za-za-zing! And the best part is just how ribcrackingly funny this kind of third-rate schoolyard namepunning becomes on the fifteenth iteration. Because the first fourteen times, I was like, What is that, a speech impediment? But then came No. 15, and I was all, Oh . . . oh, NOW I get it. Because he's not terribly interesting. And kind of silly. A - a bland loon. A BLAND LOON! Oh, you had to scrape me off the floor after that one hit me at full force.

I'm wondering, though, does kicking the slow kid repeatedly scan as speaking truth to power somehow for a certain kind of pompous BBC listener? Is this something I would've needed to have worn a crested blazer to grade school to understand?
posted by gompa at 10:58 AM on January 9, 2008 [2 favorites]


Honestly, I went to see it with the lowest expectations but had a really fantastic time. All the painstaking detail put into the appearances of settings, characters, and objects was so overwhelming and fascinating that I loosened up and became surprisingly absorbed in it.
posted by hermitosis at 10:59 AM on January 9, 2008


Sounds like your standard issue pretentious film critic, to me.

Not at all - the good doctor's Ph.D. is in horror fiction, and he loves nothing better than a really well done gore-fest. (His wife, by contrast, is a professor of erotic film studies. Or something like that.)

He is, basically, very very excellent. See also: the Mark Kermode Drinking Game.
posted by flashboy at 11:02 AM on January 9, 2008


I've always marvelled at Mark Kermode's resemblance to Lenny (or Squiggy, I was never sure who was who), from Laverne & Shirley. But most people here in Blighty are probably blissfully unaware of this fact.
posted by Flashman at 11:03 AM on January 9, 2008


I wondered how Captain Barbosa was brought back from the dead so easily at the end of the second film when it's such a bloody big deal to bring Captain Sparrow back in the third.
posted by stinkycheese at 11:04 AM on January 9, 2008


The fact that we paid to see it does not mean that we liked what we saw after we paid for it.

If you go to see the THIRD movie in a franchise expecting to see something markedly different from the first two? Or even the second. Are you serious? You need ANOTHER smart ass reviewer to tell you how much you hated it after you hated it the first time? After you saw them? The fact is the first two made a Bazillion Dollars and all three are going to make a Gajillion dollars.

Obviously that is some stupid ass public to go to three movies they all hate. How masochistic or dumb does a movie goer have to be?

Three Card Monte, anyone? C'mon. I'll give you five tries to get your money back.
posted by tkchrist at 11:06 AM on January 9, 2008


He is, basically, very very excellent.

If this is an example? I disagree.
posted by tkchrist at 11:08 AM on January 9, 2008


Pirates of the Caribean is the Barack Obama of pirate movie franchisdes - unexpectedly successful on it's first outing, leading to unrealistic expectations and disapointment on a second outing...

I've not seen At The Worlds end or the final results for the 2008 democratic primary so I'm not really able to finish that analogy off.
posted by Artw at 11:09 AM on January 9, 2008 [1 favorite]


Not at all - the good doctor's Ph.D. is in horror fiction, and he loves nothing better than a really well done gore-fest. (His wife, by contrast, is a professor of erotic film studies. Or something like that.)


Um, flashboy? Standard issue pretentious film critics have sidelined in horror movies for years. It's a fatuous way of pretending to be down-to-earth--I might like my Truffaut but I can still watch some horror with the plebeians once in a while!

Music critics are the same way with hip-hop.
posted by nasreddin at 11:10 AM on January 9, 2008 [5 favorites]


I'm guessing that the general loathing for Worlds End - also savaged here - kills off the chances for Cutthroat Island II.
posted by Artw at 11:11 AM on January 9, 2008


flashboy: Not at all [pretentious] - the good doctor's Ph.D. is in horror fiction

Time out: In what country is calling onesself "Doctor" because one has a PhD in Horror Fiction not pretentious?
posted by lodurr at 11:13 AM on January 9, 2008


FWIW, I loved a lot of the dialog in the first movie (especially the bits with Rush and Depp, together and separately) and some of the dialog in the third, and truly enjoyed the trippy Multi-Depp sequence. Probably won't watch it again, though.
posted by lodurr at 11:15 AM on January 9, 2008


you make it seem like there are no excellent horror movies, or excellent hip-hop.

while I can't say much about the former, I disagree with the latter.
posted by heeeraldo at 11:16 AM on January 9, 2008


damnit, above comment was meant to follow nasreddin.
posted by heeeraldo at 11:17 AM on January 9, 2008


I was handed a copy of Pirates 3 on DVD and watched it the day after having wisdom teeth extracted, a bit loopy on Vicodin. I didn't understand one moment of it, and we shut it off after what felt like an eternity... 50 minutes, somehow, still left in the movie. For the record, my girlfriend was not loopy on Vicodin at all, and still couldn't recognize a plot. What rubbish. (The film, not the woman.)
posted by uncleozzy at 11:18 AM on January 9, 2008


He doesn't call himself it. It's a running joke on Simon Mayo's show that Mayo always refers to him as "Doctor". And he doesn't "sideline" in horror movies, it's his background and rimary obsession.

I'd recommend listening to a few of the podcasts of the radio show to get a flavour of his style - he's extremely funny, self-deprecating, and interesting.
posted by flashboy at 11:21 AM on January 9, 2008


heeeraldo, I think the point was not that horror movies are bad, but that they're plebeian. Which most of them are. Much like hip-hop, when it's not plebeian, it often sucks. Which is not to say you can't make high-tone hip-hop or horror (or hip-hop-horror). You defeinitely could. But it would not be a hack job to pull it off.
posted by lodurr at 11:22 AM on January 9, 2008


"Rimary"? I think that was meant to be "primary". But "rimary" works too.
posted by flashboy at 11:22 AM on January 9, 2008


Standard issue pretentious film critics have sidelined in horror movies for years.

Um...example, please? It's one thing for a critic to point to something safely canonized like the original Dawn of the Dead or the Val Lewton catalog, but contemporary work? Other than maybe Guillermo del Toro, I can't think of a horror director under fifty who gets much love from SIPFCs.

(I'd also like to say, while I'm here, that Pirates of the Caribbean was the longest nine and a half hours I spent in a movie theater all that summer. Watching it made me feel like I was one of the adults watching the Terence and Philip movie in South Park: "What garbage!")
posted by kittens for breakfast at 11:23 AM on January 9, 2008


I saw the first one as an in flight movie. And all things considered was pleasantly surprised by a funny adventurous time waster.

I thought Depp had great fun with a cartoon-ish and off-beat take on the Pirate cliché and did something somewhat original with not much in the way of source material. Orlando Bloom did what the straight man is SUPPOSED to do in these kinds of movies. And Geoffrey Rush was excellent. Knightly was set dressing.

I however was not excited enough (or, if the reviewer is right, dumb enough) to see II and III.

I want the "Good Doctor's" job if this is all he does — verbal diarrhea and third grade zingers. How much does he get paid?
posted by tkchrist at 11:24 AM on January 9, 2008


If he doesn't also begin his review of There Will Be Blood with "nothing actually happened but just a bunch of stuff happened," I call shenanigans.
posted by kittyprecious at 11:27 AM on January 9, 2008


Die Hard 4 absolutely rocked. Loved that movie.

And of course Pirates 3 wasn't that great; they had written themselves into a big hole with Johnny Depp dead. Still, it was better than the last Aliens movie, or the last Star Trek movie, or a lot of other sequels I can think of.
posted by misha at 11:30 AM on January 9, 2008


Pirates I was great fun, if a bit long.

Pirates II was terrible enough that I never wanted to see Pirates III and probably never will.

They made a pile of money and I didn't waste another 3 hours of my life. It's all good.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 11:34 AM on January 9, 2008


Well, I liked the first Pirates of the Caribbean movie, which was surprisingly good and entertaining considering it was based on a 10-minute theme park ride, but I pretty much agree with this guy about the other two. The real problem is the idea that successful movies *must* have a sequel, rather than everyone just moving on to something new. Also, why does everything have to be a freakin' trilogy anymore?
posted by lordrunningclam at 11:35 AM on January 9, 2008


oh, awesome, a MeFi Seal of Excellence™ Thread!!

/pretentious hipster dork with catbox-liner degree does movie reviews.

/FPP linkdump posted to MeFi regarding same.

/fistfight breaks out over who's more pretentious: hipster dork movie reviewer, or hipster dorks who revel in mainstream lo-fi but only because it's all ironical, man.

/throwaway snide asshole comment of Arch Indifference

/snark

/riposte

/counter-riposte

/GiveWell reference

/Ceiling Cat reference

/multiple blink tagged comments

/MeTa bitch-fest ensues: "Back In Tha Day..."

Sorry. The reviews are cute, and while I agree in theory, you will have to pry my shitty popcorn pirate movies out of my cold, dead hands. Yes (and as evidenced by the above) I AM JUST THAT EASILY AMUSED.
posted by lonefrontranger at 11:36 AM on January 9, 2008 [3 favorites]


... better than the last Aliens movie ...

Oh, come on, Alien: Resurrection was one of the funniest movies that came out that year!
posted by lodurr at 11:38 AM on January 9, 2008


The first POTC (that's what the cool kids are calling it) was good, but both sequels have been horrific. Unfortunately, people keep seeing them in droves (POTC 3 and Spiderman 3 hold all sort of top box office records), so Hollywood keeps churning them out. Can all Mefi members make a pact to never see a sequel in the theaters?
posted by FeldBum at 11:39 AM on January 9, 2008


verbal diarrhea and third grade zingers.

Welcome to Metafilter.
posted by Dave Faris at 11:44 AM on January 9, 2008 [1 favorite]


I make no such pact, feldbum. I don't want to miss The 401 Blows.
posted by Mister_A at 11:59 AM on January 9, 2008


...or Berlin Alexanderplatzerer.
posted by soundofsuburbia at 12:03 PM on January 9, 2008 [1 favorite]


Ah, probably the BBC ones not working stateside? Lots of the them are repeated on this channel.

I wish that were the case, but alas, I guess I just won't be seeing his review of Good Luck Chuck. Which is too bad, because in my opinion Dane Cook just can't be ripped enough new ones.


Assholes, that is.


Proudly COOKIST
posted by Dr-Baa at 12:15 PM on January 9, 2008


Flagged as Bingo Card.
posted by Dr-Baa at 12:31 PM on January 9, 2008


Mark Commode (wink-wink, nudge-nudge) ... where do I pick up my paycheck?
posted by ogre at 12:40 PM on January 9, 2008


It's shooting fish in a barrel to pan such an easy target, but it was worth it for the line about how you could build a nice piece of Ikea furniture out of Keira Knightley's performance.
posted by FelliniBlank at 12:41 PM on January 9, 2008 [1 favorite]


lonefrontranger - was that an also-requisite

/bash.org reference ?
posted by griphus at 12:56 PM on January 9, 2008


Was it this Black Sheep? Because that movie ruled. (Where "ruled" exists somewhere between "what the fuck am I watching?", "who thought this would be a good idea?" and "wow, let's watch that again!")
posted by quin at 12:57 PM on January 9, 2008


So what movie critic is not pretentious -- Gene Shalit? Richard Roeper? Insert your favorite movie studio blurb whore here.

Kermode's great. He's extremely opinionated, highly obnoxious, and brilliant. So he likes "The Exorcist" way too much. Big deal.
posted by blucevalo at 12:59 PM on January 9, 2008


I haven't seen the third part of the Pirate movies but I re-watched the first two recently and realized they are quite violent for being kids movies.

Anyway I rarely listen to what other people tell me what I may or may not like. But if he makes his reviews entertaining I'll give him a listen. Thanks.
posted by P.o.B. at 1:02 PM on January 9, 2008


Rant of the century? Someone needs to see more rants.
posted by sfts2 at 1:02 PM on January 9, 2008


The century is still quite young.
posted by Dave Faris at 1:12 PM on January 9, 2008 [1 favorite]


blucevalo: He's extremely opinionated, highly obnoxious, and brilliant.

There seems to be this widely held opinion that the first two of those necessarily imply the third.

There's another widely held view, that the third excuses either or both of the first two.

Both those views are mistaken.
posted by lodurr at 1:24 PM on January 9, 2008 [5 favorites]


I have to agree with Flashboy, Kermode is a good listen and has interesting things to say. His reviews are particularly unlikely given that they appear on the BBC's most mainstream radio channel.
posted by patricio at 1:25 PM on January 9, 2008


Boring, way too long and self important.
But enough about the review, (rimshot) I thought the film was great. Flawed, but great.
posted by seanyboy at 1:26 PM on January 9, 2008


I wondered how Captain Barbosa was brought back from the dead so easily at the end of the second film when it's such a bloody big deal to bring Captain Sparrow back in the third.

I saw this just last weekend and they actually went to the trouble to explain this in the film. Something to do with how Barbossa was merely dead while Sparrow was specifically being punished and held in Davy Jones' locker. Although why Davy Jones himself didn't seem to be in control of his locker was little... okay I admit I pretty much tuned out everything between the battle scenes. What a confusing splintery mess.
posted by Durhey at 1:26 PM on January 9, 2008


This is an example of how you don't get to choose what you hate - what gets your back up. Harlan Ellison once said that whilst watching The Omen that he felt "the absolutely lowest point I've ever reached in loathing for my species". Believe me if you've heard Kermode in full flow in praise of The Exorcist or Blade Runner then you'd know that he'd rather not be wasting his time with POTC - it's just that he can't help himself.

I'd also agree with Flashboy that you really have to listen to a few of the podcasts before casting the first stone at Kermode. If you try and dismiss him as jusr art-house fag who's down on popular flicks you're just wrong.
posted by oh pollo! at 1:35 PM on January 9, 2008


Something to do with how Barbossa was merely dead while Sparrow was specifically being punished and held in Davy Jones' locker.

Thanks. I guess that makes sense...sort of. Barely.
posted by stinkycheese at 1:38 PM on January 9, 2008


Harlan Ellison once said that whilst watching The Omen that he felt "the absolutely lowest point I've ever reached in loathing for my species".

Wow, and that wasn't even the new one?

A fun game to play whilst watching the new one, should circumstances force you to: See how many times it's blatantly apparent that they are shooting in Prague and not "London". The one shot with a sign that says "PRAHA" is a bit of a giveaway, for instance, as is the shot down the river with the houses of parliment and the london eye clumsily CGIed on... on the same side.
posted by Artw at 1:51 PM on January 9, 2008 [1 favorite]


If you try and dismiss him as jusr art-house fag who's down on popular flicks you're just wrong.

Oh, I don't dismiss him as an art house fag. I dismiss him as an irrelevant asshole.
posted by lodurr at 1:58 PM on January 9, 2008


No really though, that movie never ended. Just when you thought it was going to conclude, BAM! 20 more minutes of tacked-on drivel. I'm pretty sure that if I hadn't gotten so sick of waiting for it to just end that I turned off VLC the DVD, the film would have continued forever, because it didn't seem to have any interest in or inclination towards ending in a reasonable timeframe.

The first one was great (while high). The second one was a really long trailer for the third. The third one was waaaaaaaaaaaay too drawn out and concerned with outdoing the previous titles in every aspect but quality.
posted by baphomet at 2:04 PM on January 9, 2008


Put me down as another one in the Kermode-fanboy corner. The PotC 3 review isn't a good place to start, as his typical reviews aren't ten-minute tirades against the third in a series of films he hates starring actors he can't stand. Try listening to some of the podcasts and other reviews - he's pretty positive about a lot of the films, and good at nailing the faults in the not-so-excellent ones. In recent weeks he's had good things to say about American Gangster, The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford, Enchanted, and The Muppet Christmas Carol, so he's not just recommending pretentious indie films and trashing the mainstream because it's an easy target.

Sure, he's not to everyone's taste, and I don't agree with all his opinions, but I find him generally correct and incredibly entertaining.
posted by penguinliz at 2:10 PM on January 9, 2008


I love The Culture Show. I just wanted to put that out there.
posted by chuckdarwin at 2:21 PM on January 9, 2008


Plus there's a *lot* of context surrounding that review in that he hated the first two films and gave them equal trashings even though the listenership and Simon Mayo largely disagreed with him, at least on the first one.

I'm a great fan of his reviews and presenting and have been for years. It's worth looking at his wikipedia page for more comment and context:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mark_Kermode

But really I wouldn't jump to conclusions -- his work tends to be particularly scholarly and more often than not replete with justifications as to why he likes or doesn't like something. The man really enjoyed Enchanted and I would say had a lot to do with the success of Pan's Labyrinth in the UK.
posted by feelinglistless at 2:23 PM on January 9, 2008


Not at all - the good doctor's Ph.D. is in horror fiction, and he loves nothing better than a really well done gore-fest. (His wife, by contrast, is a professor of erotic film studies. Or something like that.)

He is, basically, very very excellent. See also: the Mark Kermode Drinking Game.
posted by flashboy at 7:02 PM on January 9 [+] [!]


I've always marvelled at Mark Kermode's resemblance to Lenny (or Squiggy, I was never sure who was who), from Laverne & Shirley. But most people here in Blighty are probably blissfully unaware of this fact.
posted by Flashman at 7:03 PM on January 9 [+] [!]

The evolution of film criticism within a single minute. Suck it, intelligent designers.
posted by Sparx at 2:29 PM on January 9, 2008


I'm on both sides here. That was a great rant.

I didn't hate AWE, but I did feel that it was, well, a confusing splintery mess. Frankly, it all began with the first one. It's so damned long that it really feels like they did a sequel at the same time and edited them into the same movie. I know there's supposed to be a dichotomy between the real-world piratey stuff and the horror piratey stuff, but it seriously seemed like two different movies mashed together.

And then they managed to do that twice more. Six movies for the price of three! or something like that.

The third one, especially, fell down on the sheer fact that they could no longer keep the real-world and supernatural-world stuff separate. The idea of the East India Trading Company, a very real historical entity, interacting with a being from beyond the dead ... they never really pulled it off.

And they didn't make a lot of sense with the unresolved ending. OK, they won, but the fleet went away to fight another day? Etc.
posted by dhartung at 3:03 PM on January 9, 2008


It's funny because his name is Kermode and all he seems to do is shit on things and make fun of actor's names.
posted by dazed_one at 4:07 PM on January 9, 2008


He's no Filthy Critic.
posted by lovejones at 4:14 PM on January 9, 2008 [1 favorite]


Kermode was slightly entertaining, but what about Simon Mayo (he was the other guy, correct?)? I was waiting for him to start faking suicide towards the end of Kermode's rant! Is he like that in all the videos?
posted by herda05 at 4:46 PM on January 9, 2008


Did anyone else watch the documentary on The Exorcist? Decent enough, but Mercedes McCambridge, who did the voice of Reagan, is amazing.

Paraphrasing:

"When I was a kid, I listened to horror stories because I wanted to be scared. I liked the drama of it. It's the same with this movie...ooooh, you're not that scared. Finish yer popcorn."

Quoting doesn't do her justice. See to believe.
posted by nosila at 4:58 PM on January 9, 2008


Somebody shot at you and created a wound in your abdomen!

is, frankly, amazing.
posted by wemayfreeze at 5:33 PM on January 9, 2008


Considering how bad the last one was, who really cares, unless they have children who will drag them to this dreck?
posted by caddis at 7:44 PM on January 9, 2008


I thought he was great. Thanks.
posted by dobbs at 8:19 PM on January 9, 2008


'When this guy goes on about "We all know" and "As we all saw" how bad this movie is? Well. Clearly we ALL don't feel as strongly as he does. Because the franchise gross a Gajillion dollars so obviously MOST people did like it. Which I'm sure makes this asshole feel all cutting edge. "Man. I hate what the masses LOVE!"'

Horseshit. Anyone that has attempted to nail Kermode for trying to sound cool by favouring art-house cinema over and criticising mainstream cinema clearly hasn't heard many reviews. I've subscribed to the podcast that these reviews come from for a long time and he gives all films a fair trial - he gives plenty of mainstream films positive reviews, sometimes frustratingly so. Yes he's a fan of art-house films and genre films, but his particular fetish is the horror genre - but this has the effect of making him more, not less, criticial of films within this category.

I find fault with the idea that because a film is based on a ride that it is allowed to be poor. That is should be poor. That we should expect it to be poor. Simon Mayo, that actual host of the show Kermode appears on, never fails to give Kermode a hard time over the first Pirates film, because he, and many others (including me), think it's pretty good. We're allowed to be disappointed by a drop in standards in the sequels. I find fault with the idea that the amount of money a film makes is a direct indicator of how much people like it. People may still be going to see these films on the strength of the first - people don't know what they thought of a film until after they saw it.

So yeah - I'm a big fan of Kermode and I have to say, in the broader context, I don't recognise much of the criticism about him here. Not many of his reviews are this bilious - though, find the review of Norbit if you would like another.
posted by nthdegx at 11:55 PM on January 9, 2008 [1 favorite]


I.... like the POTC sequels, at least more than the first one. They're my idea of "big, dumb, loud, and fun" that actually works, unlike hideous abortions like Transformers.

The bizarre thing is, whenever the Pirates movies come up in conversation and people start to trash them, i hear "it was too complicated and i didn't understand what was going on" way more than i should. Any adult who says that is automatically disqualified, since i know fifth-graders who follow the plotlines with ease.

As for Kermode, he's pretty cool.
posted by ELF Radio at 1:23 AM on January 10, 2008 [1 favorite]


Anyone wanting another classic (rant, not movie) should listen to his evisceration of those responsible for Little Man. Radio 5 has an A to Z list of his reviews...

I always look forward to the good doctor's reviews. I don't always agree with him but he's always fair in his assessment. I believe he really does go in to films with an open mind and always wants a film to be good. He's also one of the few critics who revisits his own reviews and admits when he was wrong about things.
posted by itsjustanalias at 3:38 AM on January 10, 2008


Any adult who says that is automatically disqualified, since i know fifth-graders who follow the plotlines with ease.

Since the third movie by and large did not actually have a plot, I would venture to suggest that any adult who could follow the plot was making one up for themselves.

Not that there's anything wrong with that. I just find it amusing that some people confuse "the order in which things happen" with an actual plot.
posted by lodurr at 3:58 AM on January 10, 2008 [2 favorites]


The third one, especially, fell down on the sheer fact that they could no longer keep the real-world and supernatural-world stuff separate. The idea of the East India Trading Company, a very real historical entity, interacting with a being from beyond the dead ... they never really pulled it off.

No, but it's a very very "contemporary fantasy" thing to do, and it would have been fun if they could have. It's kind of like dropping the Afrika Korps into Lord of the Rings.

One of the things I found fascinating is that the farther and deeper you get into fantasy territory, the more obsessive you get about strange petty accuracies like the East India Company's military power, the fact that they generally over-ruled civil authority, the EIT logo, and trading the red marine uniforms for blue. It's supposed to be happening in dreamtime, but we have all these insinuations of weirdly specific verisimilitude. In theory, it shouldn't work, because the worlds should clash. Insinuating actual historical facts should make you think about things like the fact that you can't just sail to Singapore from the Caribbean in a couple of weeks. Yet fantasy writers keep trying to do it. I think partly it must be the challenge, but also I think they're reaching for a connection into your real life -- trying to work in dream-logic, as it were, ,to make the disparate pieces work together.

I actually think the trilogy will probably be regarded as something of a guilty classic in years to come. It's just such a glorious train wreck of a piece.

Taken as a whole, the thing starts to look like a long-running comic book that has a series of editors, writers and artists working on it over time. Sometimes the character traits and story lines morph in the telling until the original point is lost. Then you realize that #2 and #3 were written in one throw and you have to wonder whether Verbinsky didn't just hole up in some chateau in St Croix with the writing team and 9 or 10 cases of rum and at the end of three months work sort of wake up one morning and think "Fuck! We have to present to the Disney board day after tomorrow and we don't have a plot!" And then just copied/pasted everything together in Word and burned a PDF and said "It's contemporary fantasy, it's dream logic, here, read this China Mieville and this Peter Hoeg and you'll understand perfectly." Meanwhile sweating profusely as he imagines tens of millions of dollars flushing down the loo along with his spent rum.
posted by lodurr at 4:22 AM on January 10, 2008 [2 favorites]


For what it's worth, I listen to Kermode's podcast every week and I do think he's fantastic. I think what I really like about him is that although he is obnoxious and pretentious he's very much aware of it and able to laugh at himself in that very British way. Add to that Simon Mayo's surprisingly cutting banter and you've got a format guaranteed to entertain.
posted by hnnrs at 4:39 AM on January 10, 2008


... better than the last Aliens movie ...

I think this might have been Aliens versus Predator rather than Alien Resurrection, although I could be wrong. Another film with a largely English cast, because it is cheaper to bus them to Prague than to fly Americans.

I sometimes wonder how Colin Salmon really feels about Paul WS Anderson, and vice versa

Back ontopic; one of the jokes about the Mayo and Kermode podcasts is that they are basically a bickering married couple, with their own perverse rituals and in-jokes - like saying hello to David Morrissey and Jason Isaacs at the start of every show. One of those is that Mayo liked Pirates of the Carribean: The Black Pearl, and Kermode didn't. Personally, I'm with Mayo on this one, but the ten-minute rant was part of this tradition, and probably makes less sense outside it.

Kermode is a showman, as film reviewers go, but he's extremely knowledgeable and has a tremendous love of cinema. His recent review of Todd Haynes' latest might be a better example of his style, where one finds out genuinely interesting film trivia (Richard Gere is apparently a far better musician than he is an actor - who knew?) and gets a good picture of one man's response to the film.

More mysteriously - apparently he looks like a character from Laverne and Shirley, and he cohosts The Culture Show with Lauren Laverne. Shirley that's a coincidence...
posted by tannhauser at 7:56 AM on January 10, 2008


Since the third movie by and large did not actually have a plot, I would venture to suggest that any adult who could follow the plot was making one up for themselves.

The plot of the third movie was, "Here's eight different characters who each want something different. Let's watch them all chase their goals at once and get in each other's way. Ready, go!"

I thought that was a much better plot then the average summer blockbuster and I had a great time watching it. I can see where maybe if someone just didn't like the movie enough to be bothered to keep track, they might forget who wanted what and why and find it all confusing, but it seemed perfectly clear to me.

Also, the multi-Sparrow scene was great fun.
posted by straight at 11:19 AM on January 10, 2008


Being easily amused is virtuous. If I had to seek entertainment as diligently and as desperately as this guy, wading through a neverending trought of - relative to me - rotting feces, I would probably be pretty bitter too.
posted by tehloki at 11:19 AM on January 10, 2008


griphus:

you betcha.
posted by lonefrontranger at 11:44 AM on January 10, 2008


Yeh, but straight, that's not really a plot so much as a scenario.

When I say it doesn't have a plot, that's not actually a value judgement. Lots of good stuff doesn't really have a plot.

Large parts of AWE look to me like something somebody (probably several mutually reinforcing somebodies) thought up while mixing rum with mild hallucinogens. Then never bothered to re-read until it came time to shoot. Which also can have its charms -- viz Dude, Where's My Car?
posted by lodurr at 11:52 AM on January 10, 2008


... and yes, the multi-Sparrow bit was good fun and a bit trippy. I gather some folks found it the most disturbing part of the movie.
posted by lodurr at 12:03 PM on January 10, 2008


Sheesh. If anyone over 12 found anything in the Pirates movies "disturbing," I have a long list of movies they should never, ever see.
posted by straight at 1:43 PM on January 10, 2008


People find all kinds of strange things disturbing. My wife wrote a story that's narrated by a really angry cat. One of the women in her critique group found it disturbing that the narrator was a cat. (Angry didn't seem to bother her.)
posted by lodurr at 2:00 PM on January 10, 2008


Theres aparrently a subset of people who find A.I. unbearably disturbing due to the crippled robots and having a bit of a phobic reaction to amputation, and had to leave the cinema.

(I merely found it disturbing because it was shit.)
posted by Artw at 2:35 PM on January 10, 2008


The plot of the third movie was, "Here's eight different characters who each want something different. Let's watch them all chase their goals at once and get in each other's way. Ready, go!"

Precisely. There's one truly interesting thing about the Pirates movies -- they're the most nihilistic and morally-relativist movies ever aimed at kids. Seriously. Keira and Orlando are supposed to be the "heroes," but are nearly as conniving, backstabbing, and murderous as the bad guys.

Bonus points for the scene in Part II where the lone penitent Christian fellow has his throat slit and is unceremoniously dumped overboard. Also for the fact that the only godlike figure in their universe is a vengeful, amoral black nature goddess.

C'mon. It's for the kids.
posted by ELF Radio at 5:46 PM on January 10, 2008 [2 favorites]


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