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February 24, 2011


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Nice write ups on both movies. I am REALLY looking forward to "Of Gods and Men!"




After so many years of links, I have to ask: why do you keep directing your loyal readers to this Hollywood Elsewhere site? Is this some kind of running joke? How are we supposed to react to that guy's soul- and brain-deadening prose? Or maybe it's just my fault--"fool me twice," etc.--and I should stop clicking on the links. Anyway, it's nice to see my hometown of Providence playing itself in this latest Farrelly movie, even if the movie's not so hot. I'll see it for the nostalgia.

Glenn Kenny

I want my readers to understand the psychopathology of what passes for film writing on the internet, Joel. And, yes, it's some kind of running joke.

I didn't have the chance to really get into it in my review, but the portrayal of Providence in this particular Farrelly film is so flat and generic as to be practically negligible. Alas—one thing I used to like about certain of their pictures was their sense of place.


The new breed of film frat folks at HE actually critique a director's facial hair, scarves, physique etc. Without irony. Good times.


That's a shame about the movie's portrayal of Providence. While I think Stuck On You is kind of underrated (and would make an awesome double feature with Dead Ringers), the only reason I'll go see their movies now is for a glimpse of my sad little hometown's skyline. I guess I should just save myself ten bucks and watch a Family Guy re-rerun.


Having not seen the movie, is it entirely set in Providence? I know some of the filming took place in Georgia -- including the Applebees scenes were shot in the Atlanta suburb of Johns Creek. From the trailer, that's the only part that looks mildly amusing. Imagine meeting someone at the bar at Applebees? I'd require something stronger than Applebees probably serves to get through that!


Wells is obsessed with being 'cool', which by definition means he isn't.


HE rules and Wells is GOD. Jeff just cracks me up; We have our differences and I think I'm vaguely on his shit list after a brief era where THE WELLSMAN was sort of hyping me up as THE NEXT GREAT WHITE HOPE, because he kind of balked after a few incidents-- For a while he seemed to be all about the Lexmaster and we'd email and I even met the guy, and he's actually really funny and pretty nice (if intimidating as HELL)... then I said a couple stupid things on his blog that made him lose faith (MORETZY POWER), and I acted HIDEOUSLY over here to Mr. Kenny in a drunken stupor, and Jeff both publicly and privately made me well aware of how wrong that was and how Glenn deserves respect. Which I knew anyway, but for all the theater back and forth between them in the blogosphere, I think JW and GK get a kick out of one another, and Jeff for sure likes Kenny because he rightly called me out on being a total asshole. That said, Glenn clocking in at HE to crack on Jeff is ALWAYS ALWAYS funny, so more please.

But Jeff is a GREAT writer and sort of an inspiration, wherever we currently stand, because I like how he does the Gonzo thing like I do; Much film writing takes place in a vacuum where the surface-level shit doesn't rate a mention... You never see AO Scott or Ken Turan or Anthony Lane mention how they had to sit next to a fat guy who snarled nachos during the movie, or how much Sam Rockwell's stupid fucking static cling hair annoyed Manohla Dargis, or how annoying Colin Farrell's flip flops are in MIAMI VICE at that kitchen table scene. So much serious criticism barely takes into account acting, composition, mood, or EMOTION, and sticks with the intellectual particulars from a stance of total remove.

Whatever his faults, Jeff is an awesomely, relatably indulgent writer who tells you when some buffalo over-chuckles at dumb shit or how some thug assholes snuck in midway through the movie and broke his concentration. That's what I wanna read... So many critics read like they weren't invested in the experience but instead were watching a movie from behind crime scene tape with a PRESS HAT sketching in their notebook. There's a place for that too, for the sociopolitical particulars and the intellectual appraisals... But sometimes it's just good, dirty, RELATABLE fun to read about how some movie was going okay till some fuckwit started texting or an asshole started sucking their teeth and just imagining hair-trigger Walken-Eastwood-man Wells flipping the fuck out. It's literally NEVER not funny just picturing his travails where he thinks he's some roaming connoisseur journeying out into a world of sheep, and literally EVERY SINGLE TIME he leaves the apartment (and sometimes when he stays indoors) something just HAS to go wrong.

That's why he's worth reading.

ON TOPIC HALL PASS POWER I hope these dudes GET LAID because the thrill of NEW VAG is the most exciting thing the world could ever know, and I bet this is funny as hell. YEP YEP.

Michael Adams

Lex is right. Wells is a genuine character who fires off whatever pops into his mind, as with his notorious 175 sexual partners, without thinking of the consequences or not caring because he's out to stir up a ruckus. As Lex points out, Wells gives us a perspective missing elsewhere in the blogosphere. And occasionally he's even right.

The Siren

"So much serious criticism barely takes into account acting, composition, mood, or EMOTION, and sticks with the intellectual particulars from a stance of total remove."

I may live to regret saying this, but here Lex makes a valid, and valuable, point. Of course, one does not have to bring in QUITE as much of the personal as Wells does. Our genial SCR host manages a highly individual voice in his criticism without treating his readers to a disquisition on why feet gross him out and the unpardonable self-indulgence of the 15-minute shower.

But I'd be lying if I said I didn't get a tremendous kick out of Wells. though I find it best to rely on other people to point out the true gems of Wellsology. Over-indulgence in Wells can lead to one hell of a hangover.

But, come on. Orphan movies. That was genius. I swear I have been searching through my viewing history for this brand-spanking-new genre. A blogathon in the making, perhaps.


At Wells's site a little while ago, the new AT THE MOVIES was brought up, and one of the regular commenters noted that, in his segment of the five films that made him a critic, Ignatiy Vishnevetsky picked more than one silent film, a choice the resident crazy film-loving cinephile commenter regarded as "pretty weird."

Kent Jones

On the "serious criticism" front, I can agree up to a point. A lot of film writing reminds me of sophomore geometry class, with a quick nod to "intellectual particulars" that are often fabricated or half-baked for the occasion. And like Lex and The Siren, I marvel at the spectacle of critics who can manage to get through a whole review with nary a word about acting. It's interesting that Lex uses the word "composition" in the context of emotion (the "emotional composition" - interesting), and "mood" is something that is almost never talked about. I also think that "total remove" is the right term, an endless ongoing enactment of teenage self-consciousness.

It's with the fat guy eating nachos and Sam Rockwell's static cling and Colin Farrell's flip flops where things get a little wobbly for me. I would classify the fat guy eating nachos under the moviegoing experience, along with the half-hour of commercials ("Thank you for watching Acme Entertainment News!") followed by the 15 minutes of previews and the hilarious prices at the concession stands ("Next guest…Welcome to Loews…") and everything else that makes going to a new movie so dispiriting. Sam Rockwell's static cling hair and Colin Farrell's flip flops sound like pet peeves to me. But, as someone who suffered (a little) for questioning the validity of Colin Farrell as John Smith, I do think that citations of stuff like that often lead to interesting places that get into real, unnoticed issues that genuinely affect movies. For a variety of reasons, many actors bring something incredibly discordant to their roles, and the films pretend that they're not there.

Glenn Kenny

Well, Bill, parsing what constitutes acceptable cinephilia could consume reams of likely unreadable text. But if I wanted to try to distill it, I'd say to pass muster in this respect with The Man you have to at least have heard of Pasolini (that's the default director he pulls out when he wants to show how true to the "church" he is), but if you're into silent films, you're "weird," or a dweeb, or a monk, or what have you. It's very complicated, and, again, tends to veer off into the realms of abnormal psych. But I do enjoy the little Fred Allen/Edgar Bergen and/or Jack Benny act we can work up sometimes. Not sure who Lex is playing in that scenario.


Glenn, didn't Jeff borrow your copy of LONELY ARE THE BRAVE? Does he still have it?


It wasn't Wells who said that, but one of his regular commenters (a particularly obnoxious one, to my mind), but I've certainly noticed the same basic attitude from Wells. There seems to even be (not from Wells, though) a growing belief in that little community that old movies are good and everything, but after charming fumblings of your Fritz Langs and your John Fords, movies needed to grow from that stuff in order to be really good. Some of them actually seem to believe that. Hence the "loving silent films is weird" comment.

And Lex is either Dennis Day or Frank Nelson. Or some combination thereof.

Glenn Kenny

@ Graig: Oh, I just gave him the DVD outright. Because that's just the sort of fella I am. Also, I don't much care for "Lonely Are The Brave," quite honestly. Also, good God, it's not as if I don't already have a better-than-sufficient number of DVDs in my living space.


When will this blog stop being about critics Glenn hates?


bill, I've never read Wells but your comment made me realize this as good a place as any to bring up the Kia Superbowl spot (that I think is still on TV). Not the Poseidon one, but the one where you see people going about their lives with purportedly hilarious, outdated technologies: a typewriter, a clunky old satellite phone, horse and carriage, etc. The hook being: where would we be if we were content to just settle with the first thing that came along?

And of course, there's a couple in a theater watching a silent movie, turning from a sepia tinted card reading "Kaboom" to look at each other looking non-plussed. I found that so depressing. I know it's just a commercial, but still it seems as concrete a sign as any that we are losing something that's irreplaceable. Or we risk losing it, on days when I'm feeling optimistic.


Wells is a straight-up bigot bordering on racist and there's nothing cute or endearing about it. He generally has horrible taste in film and loves to lord over his BANNING POWER, but in person he's a weasel you could push over with a feather as I discovered one horrible screening. Lex loves him because they're both sociopaths who prefer discord to discourse. There's of course a trainwreck quality to his site which keeps me peering, but if you compare it two years ago when it was a genuine movielovers mecca to the catty bitchfest it became ("I can't watch a movie with the color yellow in it" "Yeah, and what's with that guy's fingernails?" "I hate dudes with sideburns!")...


"but if you compare it two years ago when it was a genuine movielovers mecca to the catty bitchfest it became ("I can't watch a movie with the color yellow in it" "Yeah, and what's with that guy's fingernails?" "I hate dudes with sideburns!")..."

I must admit I don't like TWO WEEKS IN ANOTHER TOWN in part because it's so yellow. Seriously, most any 60s American Technicolor film looks a little decayed and rotted to me.


"It wasn't Wells who said that, but one of his regular commenters (a particularly obnoxious one, to my mind)"

It wasn't 'The Thing', was it? Because the blinkered self-righteousness that characterises such 'neo-fetishists' is hard to forget (or, mercifully, to encounter, outside of religious fundamentalism or revolutionary student politics).


You might not like the Technicolor palette, but to consistently fetishize your dislike has little to do with the film

chris schneider

I read the "Hall Pass" review in the NYT this morning. Shortly after that, I watched clips of the opening scenes of "Dead Heat on a Merry-Go-Round" and "The President's Analyst." The combination of these factors made me wonder if the problem with "Hall Pass" -- which I've yet to see -- is that the protagonists lack inner lives. No memories of childhood encounters with perfume or racist taunting for them!

Reading your review, though, Glenn, it sounds more as if the problem is a doctrinaire approach to the characters' psyches and the offering of banal remedies.

... not to mention, of course, such problems as deficient acting, writing, camera placement, art direction, etc. etc. ...


Have to say, I still read Wells pretty regularly. I disagree pretty vehemently with about 85% of what he says -- and I think I'm still banned from commenting because of the whole Cannes Kiarostami Contretemps -- but most of the time his heart's in the right place. And he's one of the few guys who single-handedly hammers out multiple posts a day, which means there's always something to read -- his dedication is pretty impressive, and I think Hollywood Elsewhere is his only source of income.

Also, the notion that he's anti-silent, or anti-older movies is absurd -- he goes to the mat regularly for POTEMKIN, which is one of his favorite films, as I recall. He has talked about trying to get his sons interested in black and white films, and not too long ago it seemed like every other post of his was about SWEET SMELL OF SUCCESS.


"most of the time his heart's in the right place."

When he's stereotyping Hispanics and Blacks? He's the phoniest liberal of all time. And a guy who accuses everybody of being Eloi while he sits in starbucks of all corporate hovels is beyond irony. His attacks on Criterion are beyond trivial. He praises the script for INGLORIOUS BASTERDS then endlessly rags the film? Huh? Why does "passion" excuse "loudmouth hater"? Rush Limbaugh is passionate too.


Glenn, your reference to Larry David in the Hall Pass review was particularly apt, especially considering that there was a season of Curb a few years back that had an arc where Larry is given permission by Cheryl to have sex with another woman as an anniversary present. Of course, David handled this premise without an iota of sentimentality, because naturally we don't want to see him "grow" or "learn" or "change." And this has got me thinking about why I find the best TV comedy simply funnier than comedy features. I think that the doctrinaire approach to screenwriting which posits that the lead character must necessarily have an "arc" does a disservice to the genre. It forces trite life lessons to be shoehorned into the story, and the third act becomes a slog because the emotional epiphany (or whatever) that the hero undergoes feels utterly phony - especially after we've seen him pratfalling through one crazy, heightened set piece after another for the past 90 minutes - and often hypocritical as well, because the filmmakers are now "tssk tssk-ing" the bad behavior that they've wanted us to revel in for the majority of the movie. Whereas TV characters, at least in sitcoms, don't really have arcs. They are who they are. Their flaws and blind spots are what makes the story go, and getting rid of them is like taking gas out of the engine. (Though granted, that analogy is kinda lame).


Bilge, I never claimed Wells was anti-old movies, but he IS against a certain brand of old (and new) movies that don't meet his bizarre and arbitrary and contradictory points of view. My point was about his commenters, who collectively are embracing an ever-shrinking type of cinema that allows the opinion that enjoying silent films is "pretty weird" to pass without comment.

Oliver, no, it wasn't The Thing. I'm intentionally avoiding names, but since you brought him up, he's made some pretty jaw-dropping statements over there. Which, to be fair, were also widely attacked by other commenters.

Glenn Kenny

Well, Bill, and Bilge, to me what's always really striking is, occasional bow to some form of bliss notwithstanding, I've never read a movie writer who seems to enjoy himself less, even when discussing stuff he ostensibly admires. I mean, look at what he's been writing about "The Social Network:" nothing really in terms of analyzing what's so great about Fincher's direction or multi-leveled wonders of Eisenberg's performance, but about how Wells GETS IT and people who don't get it DON'T GET IT and are OLD (which he's not!) and UNHIP (which he's not—he's got two kids who listen to nothing but "gay" keyboard-driven electronica!) and are out to GET HIM and make him suffer like a Prague dissident when the Soviet tanks roll in. And how every inconvenience he stumbles across—bad wi-fi, guys wanting to sit by the nearest outlet at Starbucks that HE reserved so he could get on with his VERY IMPORTANT posting about a guy who wants to take his seat at Starbucks—is the result of the fates being aligned against him. It's like he's Job or something.

It's also what keeps me coming back. It's like a never ending piece of performance art in which you can never tell, quite, the extent to which the performance is intended seriously. Has very little to do with cinephilia, really. Whenever I run into a Very Important Major Newspaper Critic whose name good taste inhibits me from dropping, we invariably discuss our HE fascination in precisely those terms, at least when we're not banging our foreheads together over Brody's Swanberg fetish. Oh my, I'm doing that "this blog is about critics I hate" thing again, aren't I? Clearly I need more work done on myself. I'll close merely by noting that if Wells were Jewish, he'd be a Stanley Elkin invention. And I say that with what they nowadays refer to as "all respect."

Cross-readers of both websites will note that Wells posted a photograph of Eric Kohn and Karina Longworth together at the Spirit Awards...and I didn't say one goddamn thing. I ought to be rewarded for my good taste, sensitivity, and emotional maturity on account of this. With money. You know where the tip jar is at.

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