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July 30 2006

Just what in the world is going on with Southland Tales? Flopped at Cannes... saved by Sony... what is going to happen to this film? Watch Netscape reporter Karina give her opinion after sitting in at ComicCon with Richard Kelly.

Crap. Total crap. Bad reporter. Everything that she says either begins or ends with "allegedly" and "reportedly". Has anyone else seen the video-tape recording of the standing ovation that this film recieved after its premier at Cannes? And since when do the critics know a good movie from a bad movie? And why does an online reporter/journalist need a microphone right next to her chin while she talks? Shouldn't she already be aware of the wonders of technology?
Well the film was slammed pretty hard in reviews after Cannes.
Hurray for YouTube. Seems like they liked it at the time.. weird.

[ edited by zeitgeist on 2006-07-31 18:04 ]
Isn't it a little pointless to discuss a movie, most people still haven't seen. I'll pass my judgement when I've watched it.
Well that Netscape report(er) was just awful, so I'm disinclined to believe much of what it/she had to say. But it was reported here recently that Southland Tales had been picked up for distribution unchanged. Now this report is saying that Kelly is being made to recut the film. Does anyone know which is really the case?
Can anybody say: "Special Director's Cut DVD"?
And actually, I think (I could be wrong) but that video where they are cheering on youtube is when SMG and CO. first arrived and the people were clapping for them when they entered the theatre. I dont think it was them clapping after it was over, at that point, I dont think they had seen the film yet. And if thats wrong please feel free to correct me.

[ edited by jerryst3161 on 2006-07-30 13:15 ]
And since when do the critics know a good movie from a bad movie?

You know what? Not everyone has the same opinion. Not all critics agree with things. Lumping them together and criticising them all with one swipe is the same as believing all criticism is worthless.

What's interesting to me, though, in the days of Metacritic and Rotten Tomatoes is that fact that you can find good and bad reviews for 99.5% of films. So if you like a film, you'll find a critic who agrees with you. And if someone dislikes that same film, that person can find a review that agrees with them.

On the positive side, a site like Metacritic gives an overview of what critics think of films - giving a general picture of how well a film is received and reviewed. By critics. Now critics are just people who are paid to write reviews. And if it's true that you can find one critic that loves a film and another critic that hates it, then you have to consider that a sample of film critics isn't all that different than a random sample of people.

Except that - hopefully - a critic has some knowledge of the field. You don't want people critiquing building plans who don't know what they're talking about or average joe commenting on designs for new freeways - you want a professional.

Critics aren't all that bad really. Only if they review your film badly should you worry about them.

Richard Kelly should rightly worry about the Cannes reviews - whether or not they politely clapped him after it was all over. Donnie Darko was great, but it frayed at the edges. His director's cut (a true indulgence, as if he didn't have final cut on the original...) shows he didn't really know where the strength of the film lay or what actually engaged audiences.

We shall see what happens, but it doesn't look good.
dzr, the film is being recut as this report says. However, the reports that it was being cut a huge amount were just rumors (though probably taken from remarks a gloomy Richard Kelly made at Cannes after the screenings). At this panel, he was upbeat about recutting it. He didn't say what the final length would be but other reports have said it would be cut around 10 minutes. At least the reporter liked the clip.
Except that - hopefully - a critic has some knowledge of the field. You don't want people critiquing building plans who don't know what they're talking about or average joe commenting on designs for new freeways - you want a professional.

The problem I have is that some critics just seem to hate certain types of films and even if it was the best film of that type for years would still give it a bad review as if it was trying to be the beat film overall of the year

An example of what I mean is that here in Ireland there is a critic who keeps on giving films that are aimed at children bad reviews as if they were aimed at adults.Yes I know adults bringing their children to the cinema will see them but that is not their primary audience and not reviewing them based on their being aimed at children is I believe wrong
oh well...i still can't wait to see it.
I think people are being most unfair towards Sarah. No, I've not watched this movie as of yet. However, everyone and their brother has launched lawn darts at this production and for one reason. Buffy.

Sarah Michelle Gellar is a talented actress and she should have her punts. BtVS is over. Okay, stepping off the soap box. :)
Actually, Madhatter, SMG's performance was one of the better-reviewed elements of the movie at Cannes. I think that most of the darts are being launched at Richard Kelly and what some see as his overweening ambition.
Of all the reviews that I've read or seen about this movie, I haven't seen a bias against SMG for Buffy, not at all. Rather, I see the negative comments aimed at Kelly and the lack of direction the movie had, the clumsiness of it.

That Netscape reporter seemed to be more like a gossip column writer.
There was applause as the actors etc arrived at the screening they attended, and there was also a clip which showed a standing ovation at the end of that screening. This report is relating everything in the most negative way possible. As far as critics, there were people who disliked the film and there were people who liked it. Richard is the one cutting the film which says something. If Sony felt too negative about it, they'd have taken the film from him and wanted to get someone else to edit it. Sony are a business where the bottom line is ultimately what they're interested in. If they didn't think they'd make money from this film and that it had potential of some kind, at the end of the day, they wouldn't have bought it.
Yeah, not really reporting, more like rumour-mongering to camera.

I think this is one of those pictures that's either gonna be a masterpiece or a complete disaster. As Keith G points out critics are just people with opinions, same as the rest of us. Maybe slightly better informed about film history and technical issues like narrative flow and so on but still just people.

Since there's no objective metric for film appreciation it's down to each individual to make their own choice (and apart from anything else I admire Kelly's ambition even if it might have outstripped his talent in this particular instance).

(I also haven't seen any particular bias against any cast member, including SMG. Complaints mainly seem to centre around a muddled script and pacing issues)
Actually, has anyone taken a look at the first book of the Southland Tales comic? I was seriously impressed... although the story is so ambitious, the film could easily be amazing -- or muddled and horrible. I'll see it myself before trusting the critics.
It really shouldn't come as any surprise to critics that Southland Tales is complex and a little odd. Many critics just didn't understand Donnie Darko and when you can't just say "I didn't get it" you mask it by giving it a bad score. Or, some critics do say "I just don't get it" as a way to warn people.
I know this is completely trivial, but serious points go to dreamlogic for using the word "overweening."

And even though Joss was talking here about fan criticism and not "official" critics, I'm gonna put this in 'cause I think it's important (italics mine):

"The people who feel the most strongly about something will turn on you the most vociferously if they feel you've let them down. Sometimes you roll your eyes and you want to say, 'Back off,' but you don't get the big praise without getting the big criticism. Because people care. So. Much." --
Can we differentiate between reviewers and critics, and reviews and critiques, please?

If it has a score on the end, it's probably a review. 97% of all writing about film is reviews.
critics often analyze the film from the perspective of someone watching a film for the first time, analyzing theme, substance, plot and characterization.

reviewers can run the gamut from critics to the common moviegoer.

critiques are, to me, analyzations made by people who have an expertise in film that is outside the moviegoing experience. for instance, a critique could come from a person who has worked with lighting and set design for 20 years, analyzing the movie through those properties.

Common movie goers will rarely put a score into their more casual reviews. Just check Rotten Tomatoes. Most of the users there say "it sucked!" or "it was great!" without saying exactly why, other than "it was hilarious" (which is why it was great) or "boring" (which is why it sucked).
Too true, QuoterGal (and Joss). Triumph, disaster, imposters the pair of them ;). If an artist wants people to care then they have to accept that sometimes people will care in the bad way.

Yeah dpwac, I thought 'Two Roads Diverge' was pretty good too. Very nice looking but also quite well written with parts that were quite poetic (and not just the poetry ;).

Not really sure where it's going yet but it seems to have elements of 'Donnie Darko' and maybe 'Adaptation' (ish). Interesting.

(AFAIK modern usage has critque as "A critical review or commentary, especially one dealing with works of art or literature". So, to me, that makes 'critique' and 'review' fairly interchangeable though given it's a less commonly used word I can see it being reserved for more in-depth reviews, especially ones showing well reasoned judgement)
There seems to be an eschelon of movie critics, where someone like Roger Ebert is higher up than most critics. It seems that people tend to pay more attention to what he says as a sign of whether they should see a movie or not.
Peter Bradshaw, a film critic with The Guardian, disliked 'Southland Tales' intensely and commented on his abhorrence of the film on more than one occasion. In his review he described SMG as being "howlingly awful in every scene." I have seen three short clips from the film and, whilst I am biased, I did not think she was howlingly awful by any stretch of the imagine. Is my judgement suspect because of my bias? Is Bradshaw's opinion any more trustworthy because he is an experienced film critic? Who knows?

The Saturday (29 July) edition of The Guardian contained an article in which various critics admitted to occasions when they "got it wrong", mostly instances of writing a damning review about someone or something they subsequently had to concede was actually good. In the case of Peter Bradshaw, he makes reference to giving 'The Fantastic Four' a glowing review and four stars because he was just about to go on holiday and was in a very upbeat mood. Effectively, he was reviewing his good mood and his impending holiday, not the film itself, which he now thinks is rubbish. What does that prove? Nothing particularly, except that professional reviewers/critics bring their own subjectivity with them, just like the rest of.

The approach of the Netscape reporter is a case in point. It would seem that she has not actually seen the film, except for the one scene she describes and admits to thinking was "great". At the same time, her decidedly gossip-column approach is slanted towards putting a negative spin on the film and those associated with it. Why is it that the bad reviews are being taken to be a accurate reflection of the quality of the film whereas the good reviews (and it got some) are largely ignored? I'm just curious.

It could well be that 'Southland Tales' is as bad as some (not all) of the reviews have suggested. The only way to know that is to make our own judgements when it is released. If it really is an unmitigated disaster, so be it. It won't be the first bad film... or the last. Personally, I'm still looking forward to it.
I know I'd rather have someone like Kelly TRYING new and interesting things than any number of safe Hollywood films... An interesting train wreck can still be a rewarding cinematic experience...
dashboardprophet - That "howlingly awful" comment led me to dismiss Bradshaw's review out of hand. There is no doubt that SMG is a competent actress, while that description is more befitting someone like Paris Hilton. Whenever I see a comment like Bradshaw's, I conclude there's a Buffy factor at work. "Geller? She was in the TV show for teenagers with the campy name, right? She must be a bad actress."
That Netscape reporter was, in my opinion, trying to create a salacious slant where there was none -- buzz about Southland Tales? That was over after Cannes, really. Now the buzz has subsided in the general public, at least until Kelly has the new edits (if that is true) or until Sony announces a release date.

Of course SMG is a competent actress -- but even good actors get put into bad roles and movies (just look at Simply Irresistable!). When I see comments about an actor in a role, I don't see a bias there, because I don't see a comment about her other roles or work. I see that perhaps this one actor or actress wasn't performing at his or her best, and it is possible that he or she did not have a firm grasp of the role. I don't think negative reviews on the acting itself translates to a comment about past work.
Well, there's a big difference between "wasn't performing at his or her best" and "howlingly awful". It's the over-the-top quality of the criticism that leads me to question the entire review. In the couple of clips I've seen there's no way that characterization applies. Yes, I know that's just my opinion, but I'd like to see this reviewer (or anyone else), point out just why SMG was howlingly awful in those scenes. Remember, he said "every scene".

The Buffy factor I mentioned refers to those who haven't actually seen Buffy, but who nonetheless have preconceived notions about the show, and about the actors who were in it.
I'm with Witchfinder on this one.If there is one thing even critics who hated the movies mentioned as good about it was SMG's acting

So the "howlingly awful" comment basically comes out of no where and leads me to think there is a bias at work there.

[ edited by garda39 on 2006-07-31 21:55 ]

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