Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Criticwatch - Manufacturing dissent

Erik Childress from Criticwatch gives us the Ben Lyons Quote of the Week:

"The script kinda feels contrived and setup for certain power struggles instead of organically coming to that moment.”

Erik then continues:

So says Professor Lyons in the latest of many statements that we could easily apply to the chemistry between him and Mankiewicz just as well as the movie in question (in this case, The Education of Charlie Banks.) So goes a big part of the criticism of Junior & Mank At the Movies; maybe the second most discussed topic I’ve seen in message boards next to the usual “Ben Lyons is a smiling no-nothing idiot” stamps. It may not be as noticeable when they are in agreement, but when they are miles apart there is a scripted quality to their argument. At least on one side of it. How many times have I read that the viewers’ faith in Lyons’ opinion is lower than their willingness to trust Jim Cramer with their investments because they get the impression that he’s either cowtowing to the types of movies professional critics are SUPPOSED to like or that he’s too frickin’ stupid to understand or appreciate others. Take this week’s discussion of the vastly praised Goodbye Solo by acclaimed director Ramin Bahrani.

MANK: "They [Souleymane Sy Savane & Red West] share a small but powerful story that never really felt undertold. It’s hopeful and tragic but without any false Hollywood melodrama. I think definitely you should see Goodbye Solo."

LYONS: "I can’t praise enough the performance of Souleymane Sy Savane in this film. He is incredible to watch on screen. Really a beautiful performance but for me that was sort of the only thing to watch. I thought the film was incredibly stripped down, which is fine, but there’s nothing else to sort of help build it back up again. It’s simply watching him, his positive nature, he’s great to watch on film, but the film itself kind of left me uninterested."


Watching this exchange live on tape has all the feeling of a staged disagreement. While Lyons is going on, Mank sits there almost catatonic (perhaps imagining ways to strangle his partner).It’s not that far of a leap to imagine the director off screen going Holly Hunter on Mank and telling him “you’re outraged, you disagree, go after him NOW!” At which point Mank raises the volume level only to have Lyons explain that he was more interested in the “incredibly engaging” Solo than the “isolated and grumpy” William who didn’t really draw him into the story. Solo was the one he “wanted to watch.” It’s a good thing that Souleymane Sy Savane (you know, playing the main titular character) is on screen at least 95% of the time in the film.

Read the entire Criticwatch Ben Lyons Quote of the Week here.


Anonymous said...

Ben shouldn't be ALLOWED to see a movie like that. Great movies should be reserved for people who can appreciate them.

Anonymous said...

Ben shouldn't be allowed to see movies, period. Not if he's texting through out the thing.