Monday, February 16, 2009

Lyons on live chat: Too busy to watch movies at Sundance

Ben was taping this crappy interview rather than watch movies at Sundace

If you joined the live chat with Ben Lyons and Ben Mankiewicz this afternoon, you will most likely have noticed that there was hardly a tough question thrown their way. Considering the flurry of criticism the show has seen--and there is more coming, as I am sure that the producers know--you would think that the moderator would think that at some point Lyons would feel it was necessary to respond. Unfortunately, he maintains radio silence and the moderators of the chat obliged by avoiding tough questions. Somehow, the moderators still let out this egregiously offensive exchange:

Q: . . . what was your favorite film of this years [Sundance Film] [F]estival?

Ben Lyons: This year I saw 5 movies, a few were pretty decent . . . Also I saw Adventureland which I liked, but would have been more interested in it had the leads been a little funnier. Overall it was a subdued year in Utah, but I had a great time as always.

Personally, I have never been to Sundance--it would be hard to get the time off from work, afford the trip etc. So I cannot speak from Sundance experience, but I went out to see three movies alone just this Saturday--and Sundance is a 10 day film festival! I remember that Roger Ebert once told a festival newbie that they should plan on watching 3 or maybe 4 movies at a film festival EVERY DAY.

I asked Erik Childress at Criticwatch, who is a regular at Sundance and other film festivals, and he replied:

5 MOVIES???!!!! That was my Friday, my friend. And, at least, my Saturday, Sunday, Monday and Tuesday this year (and EVERY year.) If he was there for TWO DAYS, that would be embarrassing. Precisely how many two-minute interviews did he film to only see five movies?

Even Mank said in the chat that he couldn't make it to Sundance and that we should all bug his producer to pay for him to go next year. I have an even better idea--next year (hell, next film festival) Ben Lyons should skip it and pay for somebody to go in his place who will actually go to the movies and appreciate them rather than spending all of his time yacking it up with celebs and DJing after-parties. I don't care if it is Mank, me, or some 15-year-old kid who spends entire weekends doing nothing but watching TCM. Anybody but Ben Lyons.

Seriously, this really pisses me off. I try hard not to get into flame wars, but this sort of thing really makes me want to do just that.

Here are a few more Lyons moments from the chat (the bold parts preceding each bit of dialogue are my own commentary):

Mank says "I try to avoid hyperbole" Lyons responds "Hyperbole is the greatest thing since sliced bread!"

Q: Do you think it is safe to say that Heath Ledger's Joker is the most talked about perforamce of the decade? If not, who comes close?

Ben Mankiewicz: I'm always hesitant to say anything is the 'Most talked about . . .' or 'Best . . .' Hyperbole is a dangerous weapon in film criticism. But Ledger's performance obviously has the film world buzzing. . . and deservedly so, though the chatter was clearly enhanced by his tragic death . . .

Ben Lyons: If not THE single most talked about, buzzed about, speculated about, whatever you want to call it, there's no question it's right up.

Disappointed with his own lame expectations

Ben Lyons: Most overrated, overhyped and disappointing film of the year: Twilight. I understand the fanaticism surrounding the books, and why young audiences love Rob Pattinson. But for someone who does not hold the characters near and dear to my heart, but was excited to see it, I felt very cheated.

Don't believe the hype(rbole)--the Star Trek trailer looks even better than the Twilight trailer!

Q: . . . my question is what movie both of you guys looks foward to this summer and why

Ben Mankiewicz: I honestly try not to get too excited about anything because I dont want raised expectations to detrimentally affect my enjoyment of the film. Its not a cop out. Its true.

Ben Lyons: I am so looking forward to star trek from director JJ Abrams. From the few scenes Ive looked at so far, Ive been really impressed. I'm not a huge Star Trek fan by any means, and don't hold the franchise near and dear to my heart as many people out there do, but I love an incredible event movie, and I'm hoping this lives up to the hype...

Don't get me wrong, I am looking forward to Star Trek as well, it just seems like Ben has not learned his lesson. There were a few other choice moments. One guy asks Mank if he would ever write a screenplay like his grandfather, Lyons says "If he did write a screenplay, I'd give it a rent it."

Finally, the sharpest question was a lengthy comment that ended:

"On a side note.... Lyons.... Benjamin Button??? REALLY????"


Scott said...

Ben claimed in the Xbox Scene It blurb that he sees 300 movies a year, which would be roughly one movie a day. His record at Sundance, when he is surrounded by movies, suggests that he really only sees about half that.

Kevin (aka Richard) said...

I was the one who wrote the question asking if Mank would like to write a screenplay, and I felt he did a very good job responding to it.

First of all, he didn't co-write it. There's a little Mankiewicz family bitterness for you. And yeah, I'd love to write a screenplay, although I think that would be a conflict of interest. The other problem is that I'm about 1/53rd as talented as my grandfather.

Ben Lyons's comment was clever, but a little strange. How do you rent a screenplay?

Scott said...

Lyons was trying to be funny but just came off sounding like and asshole. He tried this another time when Mank introduced himself a la James Bond as "Mankiewicz, Ben Mankiewicz." Lyons responded by thanking him for not quitting his day job, or something to that effect. But considering Lyons has done some "acting" himself, he just sounded like a condescending jerk.

He sounds like that sarcastic guy who thinks he is just ribbing you but everybody thinks he means it.

Anonymous said...

"I don't care if it is Mank, me, or some 15-year-old kid who spends entire weekends doing nothing but watching TCM. Anybody but Ben Lyons."

Hilarious! When I was 15, all I *would* do was watch TCM and I would have been a better movie critic then than Ben Lyons ever could be.

Here's a great idea. Let's lobby "At the Movies" to send Erik Childress and Scott to the next film festival! I'd happily write a letter and launch a one person campaign. Any idea how to contact the producers?

Scott said...

I'm not sure how you would go about that, but your best bet is to look into the At the Movies and E! Web sites. I suspect E! actually paid for Lyons to go since he reported for them and not At the Movies.

Good luck!