Jul 28, 2010

Make way! The King draws near! Make way for the king!

Todd Gilchrist finds himself dangerous close to having a critical opinion about Scott Pilgrim Versus the World over at Cinematical. He starts out okay.
"Even though I can't help but pre-emptively understand if some of my colleagues argue that it's too generationally narrow or even attention-deficient to leave a lasting impression, I really, really liked Scott Pilgrim, and think that it's one of the most technically astounding and yet personally resonant movies of the year."
A little too concerned with the other cars on the road but proceed.
"Michael Cera plays Scott Pilgrim, a dubiously-employed 22-year-old who entertains rock star fantasies as the bassist of The Sex Bomb".
So far so good. Then: disaster strikes! He's not sure if he likes Cera's performance. Eeek!
"Michael Cera has played a variation of this character before – several of them, in fact – and he sometimes fails to provide the resilience and indefatigable determination (instead contributing his trademarked Charlie Brown-style feckless optimism) that Scott needs to see his romance with Ramona through to the end."
Oh Sweet Jesus. No! You mean he's a fey, passive-aggressive pencil neck who couldn't act his way out of a chip packet? No! Surely not! Quick. What to do?
"But what's most surprising is how the movie sneaks up on you, and how it seems to know that these are its shortcomings, particularly at the beginning of the story. That I was initially bored by his dating life with Knives feels intentional in the context of the film's ending, and that he is sort of infuriatingly inactive becomes an integral part not only of the character but his eventual journey, both physical and emotional, as he navigates adversaries and obstacles of both varieties."
So Cera's infuriatingly inactive but it's integral to "his journey," and the dating scenes are slow as a setting cement but it's "intentional." For crying out loud. It's not Francis Ford Coppola we're dealing with here and even Coppola might just be able to hold himself together if Cinematical let slip with the occasional frown. But no, apparently Edgar Wright is so sensitive a creative flower that every comment must come sugar-coated, ever criticism soft-pedalled, every barb softened and proferred atop a bed of pink fuschia petals as the critic backs out of the room, blushing, curtseying and promising absolute fealty to his liege. What are these guys so terrified of? Why are they even reviewing? I want to smooth the matted hair from their troubled foreheads and tell them 'it's okay, you know. They're called opinions. It's perfectly natural to have them. It's a great idea, in fact, especially if you want to review movies. I think Cera is a little over-used myself. There, see? That wasn't so hard was it....'

9 comments:

  1. Hi Tom. I'm not sure if your objection is to the language of my review or just a defense of the film, but I think I make it pretty clear that I like the film, and that any equivocation in my review is based on my initial reservations and how I felt like those were reflected in the tone and execution of the film. In terms of my appreciation or lack thereof of Edgar Wright, I admit that I'm a fan of his work, but my observations about this film and its possible reception by other critics is based on my impression of the cultural (or pop-cultural) specificity of the text, not to mention the technique, which I admit may alienate some viewers, particularly older ones not weaned on video games. But (1) have you seen the film? I'm sure you have valuable insights into the merits of Scott Pilgrim, but I don't know based on your savaging of my review here if you agree or disagree with any of the parts of my analysis of the film. (2) Have you looked at any of my other reviews? I actively make an effort to avoid reviewing other people's reactions or injecting them into my writing, and with probably a few exceptions, this is a rare instance in which I conjure that context in order to provide an analysis - again specifically because I think this movie's appeal is inextricably connected to the generation it's chronicling, and that will come to bear in many critics' response to the film. And finally (3) is Francis Ford Coppola a good example of a relevant auteur whose work is worthy of the kind of desperate defense you accuse me of attempting?

    Regardless, I'd be happy to discuss any of the finer points of either my review or the movie itself at your convenience. Please feel free to leave a comment on the review or contact me directly if you feel I'm worthy of defending myself against the casual derision you've aimed at me and the outlet where I've written this review. But no matter what sort of fealty you think I show Wright as a matter of policy or personal interest, I am completely sincere about my reaction to the film, which I had no investment in being good or bad before seeing it, and my review was written specifically to address the feelings I had going into the film and how those changed through the course of the story and in the context of what I felt like the film was attempting as a whole. And most of all, thanks for your attention; even if you saw the film and hated it and hated Cera in it, I sincerely appreciate you taking the time to read my review, even if it was only to register your displeasure with the film and my reaction to it.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Stick to the stunningly obvious Top Ten lists, sir.

    ReplyDelete
  3. What's with picking on Todd here? There are much worse things on the internet to complain about, good sir.

    ReplyDelete
  4. This was a great movie. I was thinking about getting a Locksmith Sun City West after watching it. Great review of the movie and I'll have to watch it again.

    ReplyDelete
  5. Thank God someone is bringing criticism to criticism.

    Now that it's passe, though, Mr. Shone should stay ahead of the pack by bringing criticism to the criticism of criticism.

    ReplyDelete
  6. It would seem to me that a thoroughly formulated critique of online film journalism -- which, I'm assuming, is generally what you're referring to when you utilize the paintbrush phrase "these guys" -- might have been the critical high-road in this particular circumstance. Certainly, the online film-geek crowd is hardly above reproach, but then again, neither are "you guys" -- by which I mean, self-serving, narcissistic gasbags who can't resist the irony of a too-clever book title.

    Presumably you took some amount of time and effort to craft a post that amounts to little more than the wasting of words that might as well have been utilized in the expression of something useful. And while I am content for the moment to consider you little more than the very worst kind of film snob -- who once learned the phrase "mise-en-scene" and felt a pubescent rush of self-importance -- reason would argue that you're not as one-dimensional as your post would make you appear. Next time you sit down to write, attempt to exercise the same level of reason when crafting your argument.

    ReplyDelete
  7. Presumably Anonymous is also Todd Gilchrist.

    ReplyDelete
  8. Now you've done it. You're in danger! Can't you see?! They're after you! They're after all of us! Our wives, our children, everyone! THEY'RE HERE, ALREADY! YOU'RE NEXT!

    ReplyDelete
  9. Hey, I heard Roger Ebert already killed film criticism - no need to pick the corpse's pocket.

    ReplyDelete