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March 21, 2012

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I.B.

"And I find that as I get older my favorite viewing experiences in cinema are of things that at least in part remind me of what I don't know."

YES! Yes yes yes yes yes yes absolutely and besides ON THE SILVER GLOBE fucking YEEEEEEEEEES.

(Very well put, is what I mean.)

lazarus

Thanks for my first big LOL of the day, Glenn, with that reference to The Shining.

Perfect.

In fact, his should be the first in a series, comparing Wells posts to shots of Nicholson's slow burn towards batshit insanity.

Eagerly awaiting the next installment.

warren oates

Critic's Mind, Beginner's Mind by GK.

Joe Gross

Fascinating. I was impressed by the pacing, honestly. And come on, is there a better image for election year 2012 than an unfathomably wealthy person, arrayed in the fashion season’s finest, looking at a sea of poor people she has never met and saying, “May the odds be ever in your favor?”

Joe Gross

And saying the thing is a Battle Royale rip-off is like saying Star Wars is just a "Hidden Fortress" tribute. Come on.

Joe Gross

Then again, I would love to see John Carter, and if one more person tells me it is bad and LINKS THIS IDEA to the fact that it is bombing financially, someone is gonna get shanked.

Chris O.

If this is "relative disinterest," you should be more disinterested more often. Good post.

And it's not just film criticism, I've seen it in music criticism as well, where other things/factors are being "reviewed" rather than the album itself.

P.S. "It's Money That I Love" is a great Newman song.

Not David Bordwell

Uh oh, Glenn. Ray Pride just put this post on the top of MCN's aggregation page, so brace yourself in case the people who know they know all kinds of things about movies start posting defensively.

Guy Lodge

This is a really wonderful piece. Thank you.

(Not seen the film yet, though out of some vague sense of obligation to pop culture, I've been grazing through the book, and it's pretty good. Hope that doesn't put me in some opposed-but-equivalent critical camp to the Melissa Anderson one you describe.)

Glenn Kenny

@ Guy Lodge: Thanks.

Don't get me wrong though; I have nothing against reading, for either research or pleasure, and that goes for YA stuff. What struck me as funny about Anderson's complaint was its implicit bitter stagger to the fainting couch at the revelation that, for Anderson's purposes, Suzanne Collins doesn't have the courage of the convictions that informed a best-selling trilogy of novels. Ouch, whatta sellout, who CAN you really trust nowadays, etc....

LexG

Or you could just go see the movie.

GK talking about Soderbergh reminds me of Spielberg droning on and on about "Stanley" on all those Kubrick extras. Kubrick probably barely knew who he was. Or how Landis still drops Spielberg's name at the drop of a dime, when you know Spielberg hasn't given him a second thought in 25 years. That's not to diminish my enjoyment of "Girlfriend Experience" or Kenny's contribution, or whatever the other link to Soderbergh is (isn't it fairly far removed, like someone you're related to works on his crews?)... But it seems awfully tangential as a reason/excuse to pull this "I must recuse myself..." routine every time. Shit, I was an extra in "Kingpin," but I'm not gonna recuse myself from seeing "Three Stooges." If nothing else, I'd think you'd want to see the biggest movie of the year thus far. If only to LOOK AT Jennifer Lawrence.

On a more pressing note than bagging on Glenn... I've only met him once, but I've certainly corresponded with him enough to have some theories on this, but DOES Wells have some legitimate, mild form of Asperger's? The utter certitude, the one-track obsessions, the repeating himself endlessly, the utter inflexibility, the insane hard-headedness combined with the blinding ego... At the root of EVERYTHING Jeff Wells is his Austin Powers-like mental block that he's still living in the groover-Watergate-Beatty era of his formative years, which is dead center in ALL of his rants about weight and aging and sell-out actors and his totally bogus liberalism even though he's Archie Bunker x1000. In his head, I swear he still thinks he's Warren Beatty in Shampoo, and he expects all women and young performers to have these Hanoi Jane political convictions... Jennifer Lawrence is one clothing line or recording contract away from earning his wrath.

Glenn Kenny

@ Lex: You're entitled to call bullshit on my bullshit as you see it, but I think you miss the joke. OF COURSE bagging on reviewing "Hunger Games" because SS did second unit on it is lame even by the standards of what our "relationship" is or isn't, but it WORKED, and, you know, that's the, um, punchline.

As for your other question, I think polity demands I keep mostly quiet here, too. I'll just say I don't think it's even going to take a clothing line.

jbryant

Jennifer Lawrence is probably a Hershey's Kiss away from earning Wells' wrath.

Brian

"...the image of Jack Nicholson punching the air while walking down a corridor in the Overlook Hotel springs to mind."

I was thinking Judd Nelson, pumping his fist and striding across the school grounds at the end of THE BREAKFAST CLUB.

Really nice piece, Glenn. I'm in love with the first three paragraphs in particular.

TroncJag

I just hope Steven Soderbergh adapts Infinite Jest someday so Glenn can get both of his perennial name-drops into the same post.

Glenn Kenny

Actually, I can tell you right off that that's not gonna happen, but I appreciate the thought.

Dan Coyle

I'm pretty sure in the time it took me to type this a bloody, mohawked Wells is sitting in close proximity of Jennifer Lawrence whispering "boom... boom"

Also: why not a Broom of the System movie, people?

Oliver_C

Was watching 'The Shining' for the first time in a while the other day. Does anyone else think, in the opening interview scene, Nicholson's green, textured necktie, with its herringbone/check design, is a deliberate anticipation of the Overlook maze? I imagine it's clearer still on Blu-ray.

Michael Adams

Wells' hissy fits always remind me of Nicholson pounding the steering wheel in Five Easy Pieces. Wells also resembles Nicholson's Bobby Dupea in not fitting in with any group, always finding something to set himself apart.

That Fuzzy Bastard

The information that Soderbergh will not be making an Infinite Jest miniseries makes me sad. But then again, it leaves the field open... FOR ME! Hunter Parrish for Hal Incandenza?

Brandon

I think it may be nearly impossible to currently judge The Hunger Games on its own merits at this point (even aside from the whole "Lord of the Flies crossed with Battle Royale meets The Running Man" thing). I read the book years ago, yet I feel like the movie marketing has been going on since then. The internet campaign has been everywhere the last couple of months (even in my not seeking it out). I don't like "the look" of the film from what I've seen so far (though I did enjoy the book), but who am I to judge?

The "cultural conversation" here, that I assume is not being susbtantively engaged in most reviews, is the relative position of this film within the so-called "contemporary YA cannon". The films are, like Harry Potter and Twilight, going to make A LOT of money. This will only further reinforce the coming swath of YA fantasy adaptations and possible franchises (His Dark Endeavor, Beautiful Creatures, Delirium, Divergent, etc.). While any of these films may flop, and therefore curtail the trend, one might wonder whether The Hunger Games is solidifying a move (back?) toward book adaptations (rather than the more recent trend of toy/board game movies) for more than half the quadrant.
Now, if you want to talk about the fact that they all have themes of youth questioning authoritarianism....well, the rest goes into spoiler territory....

Mr. Gittes

I want to see Steven Soderbergh's "Korean War" movie. Too bad he bagged it. He was using "Come and See" as inspiration. Bummer!

AdenDreamsOf

This is a great post, Glenn, and I'm pleased to see the number of people who responded favorably to this piece. I'm wondering if the type of first person narrative element in the Wells review might simply point to a larger trend in arts and entertainment reviewing where first person digressions are used a filler method to avoid the more rigorous work of analyzing a film, book, or record on its own. This rather self-involved trend seems to displayed regularly on 'The AV Club' where writers will write about TV episodes and mention their spouse's reaction to an episode as if doing so was germane to the program being critiqued, or a film post will include the cost of how much the writer paid for his Cherry Coke at the concession stands.

It's a lot easier to simply take up review space and write "I hated this movie so much that I had to walk out of the theater and splash water on my face at the water fountain" than to spend that review space actually writing that the film was strong or weak because of this or that reason.

Tom Block

The corollary of that--and the AV Club is really bad about this one--is the recitation of credentials and preferences that precede reviews, as if only by reading the fucking preamble to the Constitution will I have the necessary context to properly appreciate your stunning review of last night's "30 Rock". Dude, I DO NOT CARE if you're familiar with "Hawaii Five-O" because your sister used to watch it while you were doing your geography homework. I DO NOT CARE if you have a compulsion to eat jam while listening to Lady Gaga. I DO NOT CARE if you get aroused by books about hot-air balloons. All I know is, you're KILLING me here, so for the love of god, please STOP.

Agh, but WTF. This is getting to be a culture where we don't even feel alive unless we're broadcasting over the Internet what song we happen to be listening to. For that is information we simply *must* share with our friends...

AdenDreamsOf

@ Tom Block, I was hesitant to specifically mention that the AV Club is one online publication where this trend of self-acknowledged digressions appear a lot because they do have many good, professional writers who don't take the route that we're discussing. There are also plenty of other sites, publications, and individual bloggers who have adopted this style of writing.

Maybe Glenn's post received so many comments and positive words partly because this discussion revolves around something very fundamental and elusive about reviewing- how much should a review or essay overtly be about the writer and how much should it simply be about the work being reviewed or analyzed?

I agree with your comments. Lastly, the act of reviewing is inherently personal- writing about what we like and dislike is always going to be personal and say things about us as individuals- so I agree that the kind of essays or reviews that state a familiarity with "Hawaii Five-0" because the writer's sister used to watch it while doing geography homework are sadly self-involved and unprofessional.

jbryant

That all started with Ain't It Cool News, didn't it?

Dan Coyle

Jbryant: I think we do have to lay this at Knowles' feet. Although when a writer as fun and witty as Phil Nugent is involved, digressionary tactics in reviews can be fun.

Again, where's my Broom of the System movie?

lipranzer

Maybe it's because I came to Harry Potter late - and yes, I know what a red flag I'm raising here; I am only comparing Potter and The Hunger Games as phenomena, nothing more - but was there this much "this is just an obvious rip-off of so-and-so" with that as there seems to be with The Hunger Games? Cause the hand-wringing about it seems a little silly, if you ask me.

Oh, and I thought the movie was solid, if unspectacular; better than I thought it would, given Ross wouldn't be my first choice for the material, but again shows what happens when you give material like this whose first instinct is to not screw it up, rather than to make it their own. The fact Ross does a better job in that respect than Chris Columbus did with the first Harry Potter - and again, that's the only point of comparison I'm making - may sound like faint praise, but praise it is.

bill

"They Just Got Married" is from BORN AGAIN, too, right? Also a great song. "Anyway, she died."

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