A personal diary keeping people abreast of what I am working on writing-wise.

Thursday, May 03, 2007


(a Joëlle Jones drawing of Gwen Stacy; kudos to Steven for commissioning it)


* Lucky You, a hell of a mess from Curtis Hanson. Is it a gambling movie? A romantic comedy? A father/son film? All of these and yet none of them?

* Spider-Man 3, about which the best thing I can say is I got free nachos at the screening. Prepare for the fanboy hate mail!


* The Caine Mutiny - Collector's Edition, a classic wartime courtroom drama with Humphrey Bogart bringing the awesome

* The Documentaries of Louis Malle - Eclipse Series 2, wherein the new Criterion offshoot brings together 7 amazing nonfiction films from a master filmmaker

* Scrubs - The Complete Fifth Season, an uneven collection of a sitcom on its way down the tubes

We're only a couple of hours since that Spidey review was posted, and I already have gotten about 7 e-mails off it. I was expecting a few hate-filled screeds, but I'm actually surprised that the mail is split down the middle to the good and the bad. A sampling:

The Good:

I could not agree more with everything you wrote. I tried watching both SM1 & SM2 and cold only get through about 10 minutes each. "TERRIBLE" is too kind an adjective to use. I don't get it either but I'm (obviously) in the vast minority - can I apply for government funding?

The Bad:

You are a Moron. You didn't like the first 2, why even attempt to write about the third. You hated it before you even read or saw it. Don't write about stuff you don't know about!!!!!

The Good:

I read your review of 'Spider-Man 3' and... I was rolling on the floor! I have not seen "3" because I live and work overseas. If I never see this latest, I'll have graphic, mental images from your wonderfully acerbic honesty. Thanks for being true to yourself and doing us the service of questioning, "Why all the fuss?" We should have had you in Congress before we went a justified war (Afghanistan, I believe) to a wholly personal, unjustified one (for the older Bush cronies who wanted to settle a score for a humiliating uprising - their Bay of Pigs). That said, I'll probably see it when I'm home.

The Bad:

Why would you even try to right a review on something that you despised before you even saw it? It's like asking a vegan to review the latest McDonalds Quad burger club sandwich. Spiderman the Movie is a comic book acted out on the big screen, that's it, nothing more. Comic book heroes and the stories behind them aren't designed for the ultra-literate, the characters are shallow, the stories are thin and transparent and the main character never dies and some how he will save both the girl and the world in the end. They are designed to keep a young kid interested enough to read the rag and stay interested in anticipation of the release of the next issue. If you can’t lower your expectations on movies like this you’ll miss the whole point. These movies are designed to be an easy release from the day to day, get your check at the end of the week and start all over on Monday world. For two hours you get to sit back, eat some popcorn! drink some soda and enjoy the sensory barrage that many talented people have worked hard to bring to you. It’s an easy escape, shallow as it may be, its entertainment. On the other hand you can go to the movies and ruin the experience by constantly picking apart the plausibility of a kid getting bitten buy a spider and turning super hero all the while complaining to yourself and maybe some unlucky sole that got dragged along with you about how expensive the popcorn is and why they allow refills on the 55 gallon drum of soda you bought. Review the actors, did they get it done? The story, the direction, the editing, the music score, special effects, the list goes on and on. Look past the forest.

And another Bad for good measure:

I read your review of 'Spider-Man 3' and...it appears you were against the concept from the get-go. While you're hammering away at all its faults, the Spider-Man episodes are providing entertainment to many millions and expoential millions of dollars in earnings. I'd call that a success, and most critics loath that word. It appears to be a way for them to compensate for their own under-achievement; especially when so much bad is clearly directed at so much good. I hope you don't view life the same way.

You almost wonder if the negative ones red the whole review or if they got so mad, they just dashed off a response after the first paragraph or so. That was certainly the case when I wrote about Apocalypto, my current record holder for hate mail. The nice thing in all of the fuss is that I should hopefully get some negative letters that are thoughtful responses to what I wrote, and from there, I actually learn things about how my writing comes across and how to maybe approach a dissenting review in the future.

Like I suggest in the piece, too, I almost didn't write the article. I actually held off making a decision until yesterday at 3:00 pm. I had told my editor I didn't want to waste my time, and he got on my case about it. Another writer had told him about how the movie was full of flaws and then proceeded to make excuses for them, and he wanted to know why we were all giving the movie a free ride instead of calling the filmmakers on their crap. His words stuck with me. That's the sign of a good editor. They say just the right thing, and there's no getting around it.

Current Soundtrack: Amy Winehouse , Back To Black

Current Mood: targeted

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All text (c) 2007 Jamie S. Rich


Travis said...

what the hell?! I thought you said you knew better than to actually write a review of Spider-Man 3?!

I think you secretly enjoy getting hate mail...you masochist.

1031 said...

I enjoyed the first two Spider-Man films. I thought Raimi handled the characters and their relationships remarkably well, given how much scrutiny he was under. (C'mon, Alfred Molina was great in the second movie.)

That being said, I couldn't agree more with your assessment of this third film. I thought it was bloated with way too many characters and way too much plot, and, as a consequence, way too long.

I couldn't buy the whole Sandman-killed-Uncle-Ben thing. Gwen Stacy is a pretty worthless character. All the CGI kind of made my eyes hurt. It really was a mess, which disappointed me greatly.

I hope Raimi takes a step back and, for his next film, makes something like A Simple Plan or The Gift, something smaller and more intimate. I know I need a break from his Spidey-films and I kind of think he does, too.

Jamie S. Rich said...

Like the old Batman series, the villains easily are the best thing about these films. (I have a hard time seeing Batman Begins as part of the Burton timeline.) I liked Dafoe, Molina, and the guys this time around, so I agree with that.