Monday, November 10, 2008

At the Movies, 11/9/08

All in all, a pretty dull show, I thought. Almost no disagreement, the only sign of it papered over by the "Rent it" designation which can be taken as either a recommendation or not, depending on how the critic presents it.

The show started with a review of Quantum of Solace, with Mank introducing himself as "I'm Mankiewicz, Ben Mankiewicz." Lyons made a surprisingly sour response: "The acting community is relieved knowing that you will not be acting any time soon". Maybe he should have just said, "Boy, am I an asshole or what!" because that is about the effect that it had. Even worse, this is coming from a guy who has supposedly performed small roles in The House Bunny and Superbad. No, Lyons, the acting community is NOT relieved knowing that you have been doing some "acting". Maybe you should stick with "film criticism". Or something else entirely.

The review of Quantum did not get much better. Lyons referred to the movie as having "Jackie Chan style stunts". Now, I don't know what acrobatic training Daniel Craig has been doing over the last year, but unless there is a scene of Bond kicking the ass of 8 guys with a ladder while naked and preparing a souffle, I doubt this is true. But what's worse, Ben and Ben both said "See it" but then spent the entire time talking about what a lame movie it was. "The movie is so heavy with action at the start," Lyons says, which he definitely likes, but then he says he was bored for an hour. So go out and See it!

On Soul Men, Lyons says that Bernie Mac and Samuel L. Jackson seem to be too young and hip for their parts and that they were trying for older characters like The Bucket List or Grumpier Old Men. Fair criticism, I suppose, except I have no idea why you would single out those movies as targets Soul Men failed to reach.

The Boy in the Striped Pajamas got two "See Its". I saw it this weekend and can recommend it as well, but Lyons praise in particular was a bit much. "This is a movie that will most likely remain with you for the rest of your life!" he gushed, begging for his name to be put on the poster. Yes, it's a good movie, but it's no Schindler's List or Life is Beautiful, a really heartbreaking story of the Holocaust told through the innocent eyes of children. I hate to say it, because I love a good movie with a message, but Lyons just sees a "message movie" as a green light for glowing praise, even when the movie is just pretty good.

Finally, two points. It seems pretty clear that the multi-critic talking heads segment--or, "Why Settle For Two Critics When You Can Have Five"--is dead as it has been gone for three weeks in a row. As far as I can tell, this was the only real "innovation" of the show under the new critics, although it was an innovation taken from cable news where it makes even less sense than it does here. So good riddance.

Second, Ben and Ben may want to do a post-show review at some point as they may learn something about what they are saying. The Boy in the Striped Pajamas, for example, in spite of all the gushing, did not create as involved or, dare I say, interesting a discussion as any of the other reviews. Mank didn't even include it in his "3 to See", although maybe he just wanted to give it a positive review without telling Lyons to "calm down" again.

No comments: