Sunday, December 6, 2015
Nightcap 12/6/15 SAIFF starts this week, On An Honest Film Review, Jimmy Buffett no longer thrills and Randi's links
I want to mention that the South Asian International Film Festival starts this week. For information and details go to their website which can be found here.
....And that appears to be the extent of our coverage this year. Despite providing heavy coverage of the films at the fest the last three or four years there has been a shake up in the fest and despite my best efforts to connect with the festival and their press office I have gotten no response from anyone. If I can manage to get to one or two of the screenings I will report in, but I don’t think that’s going to happen, my schedule is booked solid.
It's now two or three weeks on since Jesse Eisenberg set a bomb off in the world of film critics with his New Yorker piece An Honest Film Review. The humor piece alleges to reveal what goes on in a critics head while reviewing a film. Apparently the film exploded the minds of any number of critics who have no sense of humor and felt it was an attack on them personally and their lack of objectivity.
I had a brief discussion via twitter with Hubert Vigilla when it was all breaking and considered writing something on it but realized it wasn’t worth it. While I found it on target and fair reporting, I thought it was badly written and unfunny. (In fairness I should state I think Eisenberg is a terrible writer and avoid anything he writes because I always end up disliking it.) However I recently ran across some pieces discussing the whole mini dust up and decided to make a few comments for no real reason other than I need to fill this slot.
The first thing I need to say is no review will ever be objective. Say what you will, it’s not you can’t help but have your life and experience influence how you see a film. If you’re a regular reader of Unseen you know I’ve dispensed with the notion of complete objectivity and instead let you know when my life influences what I’m reviewing- even if it’s the 900th crappy movie action films I saw in the past month. Sometimes seeing a lot of bad movies of one type makes a better than bad one seem like its a masterpiece. I mention that last point because I recently had a reader accuse me of being stoned when I gave SKIN TRAFFIK a good review. I wasn’t stoned but I had seen about 15 pieces of crap in close succession so SKIN TRAFFIK came as a breath of fresh air by not sucking, something I mentioned in the review. That Eisenberg pointed out the elephant in the room and had critics take him to task for it amazes me since I’ve heard some of the people bitching tell me how a film kicked up this or that in them- facts which never were mentioned in their review.
The other thing that has to be mentioned is that Eisenberg’s portrait of people realizing that they missed part of the film by a bathroom break or changing their opinion based on what someone else says is on target. Some people do want to be liked or on track with the in crowd. While I would love to be the “in” guy, that is never going happen. While my stuff maybe honest and from the heart, it’s not overly analytical every time and it frequently is personal. I don’t alter what I think to please anyone, though I will alter it if I realize I was wrong. I also will get into loud and heated discussions after screenings with friends which I know cause people to shake their heads as they go past.
I’m amazed that people went crazy about this.
The next time Eisenberg wants to rattle cages I kind of hope he does so in a funier piece
Speaking of reviewers- Rotten Tomatoes-this is going to be a "no duh" for some and kind of a revelation for others- their fresh/ rotten scale isn't really the completely accurate. I say this because there have been more than a handful of times recently when if you read the reviews either pro or con you realize that the review isn't how they slotted it.
I know that makes no big deal in the scheme of things but I'm running across more and more people who are using their scale to determine what they are seeing.
I think the problem is that that don't have a mixed designation so whomever is slotting the films has to choose one or the other-which is doesn't really work for some films.
A random personal note-
I’ve lost my faith in Jimmy Buffett. As a card carrying Parrothead of 30 years that's a big to do, kind of like losing faith in god.
Yea I know this isn’t about film but it’s something I need to get out there.
Initially I loved that my dad’s car had Sirius XM radio because I could get the Maragritaville station, and then I started to listen to it when I borrowed the car. And then I began to realize, asI listebed to concert after concert, month after month and year afteryear, that he kind of has stopped playing his music with passion and now just plays for the money. I say this because a large portion of the channel is playing Buffett concerts and when you listen to same songs played over and over from different concerts on the same tour you begin to realize how the arrangements went from tight close versions of the songs as recorded (say the early 1990's) to lazy ones than blend into a lot of other songs In the same set ( most nights now). There are times I have no idea what the songs I’m listening to until the lyrics kick in. Buffett and his band have gone from being a real professional band to a bunch of guys who get big bucks to play as if they were just winging it at a backyard BBQ.
The problem for me started with Buffett's playing for the cash was when he was quoted in an interview about a desire to skip a summer but his accountant told him how much money he’d lose doing that- I believe at the time it was a net of 30 million bucks- so he kept playing. Now it’s clear that’s why he’s playing- the cash. Thats all fine and good but could he actually play a show that sounds like a show and not elevator versions of the songs?
I know most people won't care. I've mentioned this to a couple of friends who like Buffett and they pointed out somewhere in the last 10 or 15 years going to the concerts for them stopped being about the music but going to a party. They go to the shows to drink and hang out and be, essentially at a backyard BBQ. That would be fine except I don't want to pay 120 bucks a ticket for what seems like a contractually obligated performance.
I actually don’t want to go to see him anymore. Partly it’s the crowd at Jones Beach (my local venue) which isn’t fun and can be rude (the last two times I went I’ve had people get upset that people were singing along) and partly because by the time the concert comes I’ve heard the concert 15 times or more on the radio since he essentially plays the exact same concert every night as its always broadcast on his station. Why go see the show when you know exactly what you’re going to get. I could understand it if he mixed up the order, but the set list (and the non specific location patter) never varies outside of one or two songs.
My question is why would anyone want to hear the same show over and over again? Thats part of thing that bothers me, every night Buffett streams his shows and its the same show over and over again. I could understand it if he mixed up the order but everything is set.
How can you perform the same same show over and over again unless you’re a machine? I know Broadway musicians are so bored they play by rote and read books while doing so.) I don’t mind the same songs in differing order but exactly the same? Ugh. Yes I know other groups play the same set, The Who does that, but neither do they tour much, Pete Townsend says they look at it as crafting the perfect concert, once they feel they nailed it they change the set list. With Buffett there is rarely passion.
Of course I still love his music, I love the recordings and early concert performances of the songs…I just blanche at the thought of seeing him live again
And now randi's links
The Oscar doc short list
Not commercials-festive films
What did LADY IN THE VAN teach Alan Bennett?
An interview with John Carpenter
What it's like on the Muppets
The quest for the lost Marx Brothers movie
15 film turkeys
Guillermo Del Toro's Dr Strange idea was turned down
Toshiro Mifune was originally the choice for Obiwan
The silent movie secret