Monday, August 10, 2009

At the Movies: Ben & Ben

Julie & Julia: A movie about a more experienced and knowledgable--if less attractive--chef and a younger, better looking newcomer who is utterly incompetent. Now that sounds so familiar . . .Just because Ben Lyons has been fired, that doesn't mean we won't have him to kick around for a few more weeks. Phillips and Roeper continued several weeks after their replacements were announced and we can expect the same this time around.

But wouldn't it be terribly ironic if just as his tenure was coming to the end, Ben Lyons delivered an intelligent, subtle, thoughtful commentary about a film, that enlightened us as to how the film works, displayed a deep grasp of film history and theory, and dazzled us with a poetic display of criticism that redeemed all of his past transgressions? Yes, that would be terribly ironic, but it hasn't happened yet. Don't keep your fingers crossed.

This episode was filmed on August 4--the day before the firing was announced--as Lyons mentions on his Twitter page. The shows are filmed two shows at a time, so it will not be for another two weeks before we see Lyons' sad, post-firing face on the show. In the meantime, we get these nuggets of un-knowledge.

On Julie & Julia:

Lyons: First off, I think we are both keen observers of the obvious when we say that Meryl Streep is terrific.

I hate to say it, but that just might be a bit of an overstatement. Forget I Am Legend for a moment. I know it's hard, but just try. Now, let's take Ben's critique of the G.I. Joe movie. First, his positive reaction on Twitter:

Just saw the new G.I. Joe trailer on ABC during the Mavs vs. Nuggets game...WOW! That ish looks crraaaaaaaaaazy...Go Joe! Look forward to it

I don't know who in their right mind would have that reaction to the trailer--much less the ridiculous thought of even having a G.I. Joe. But Ben later backtracks and says that he does not have high hopes for the movie because it does not have the "heart-and-soul of G.I. Joe."(Devin Faraci, the critic sitting next to Lyons in the interview--who later went on to give the movie a positive review--commented that he did not realize G.I. Joe had a heart-and-soul)

Now, those are two contradictory opinions on the same movie which he has not seen, and yet I think both of these are evidence that Ben Lyons is not a "keen observer of the obvious."

But speaking of stupid comments with the word "soul" in them, let's try Lyons' comment on the movie Cold Souls, taking on Mank's defense of the concept of the movie:

Lyons: I agree with you, a terrific premise, but I'm not so sure about the execution of the film. When you have a film that's dealing about people's souls and trading souls, the movie's got to have a soul. It's gotta have some heart and some compassion behind the lens.

Oh dear, you didn't really go there, did you? He even has a bit of a smirk on his face--slightly concealed by the director's generous cutting to a side view of both critics away from a close-up of Lyons--which seems to express how self-satisfied he is with such a clever turn of phrase. This side shot also shows Mank in his standard, steely-eyed stare across the aisle that seems to say "shut up you idiot before I smack the hell out of you!"


Joe said...

Lyons managed again to show how clueless he was in last weekend's show.
This guy has NO critical sensibility.
And, need we say, he never would have been foist on us had he not been the son of one of the worst film critics in the country.
In fact, in the 90s--the heyday of Siskel and Ebert--my own poll (consisting of me) of the worst film critics in the nation had Jeffrey Lyons tied with Pat Collins of WWOR in New York.
And, apparently, I'm not the only one who thinks so. Look what I found with "the Google":

Worst print critic? Putting aside all the snobby, overwriting dweebs who write for small papers or blogs or the local Pennyfinder, the winner is....
Peter Travers of Rolling Stone.
He writes pretty, but he likes EVERYTHING. (Not much credibility there.)

At least we won't have to hear Lyons call Mankiewicz "Mank" anymore. And about Mankiewicz, he wasn't bad, especially since he had to talk with what was essentially a mannequin, but, given his family history, he seems better as an expert on old films than a commenter on new ones.

So, clueless Ben spouts nonsense for a few more weeks. And then back to obscurity. Amen.

Anonymous said...

Dude I watched that episode, hell, I even had it Tivo'd It was Mank who said that about 'Cold Souls' I believe, Lyons recommended it. Hell, he even went on a rant defending it, in a more passionate defense then I have ever seen from him. Please get your facts checked.

Erik C. said...

Sorry, check your facts. Mankiewicz recommended Cold Souls after he thought about it after the screening. Lyons said to skip it.

Scott said...

I don't claim to have 100% accuracy, but when I post a quote I usually watch it several times on my DVR to make sure that I have the wording right. Fortunately, you can now view that segment online:

Watch it at about 2:00.

Aaron said...

It makes me sad that this blog now has nothing to do. Which is kind of a good thing, since there are now not just one but TWO worthy hosts of At the Movies. I just thought it needed saying. I'll miss this blog, but not Lyons. I hope he's already blown all of his money, and he's working at a comic book store somewhere very far from me.