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August 14, 2005

Also, I happen to have Marshall McLuhan right here
Posted by Patrick at 10:54 AM *

Another item much blogged elsewhere, but worth recording: Roger Ebert’s review of Deuce Bigalow: European Gigolo.

According to a story by Larry Carroll of MTV News, Rob Schneider took offense when Patrick Goldstein of the Los Angeles Times listed this year’s Best Picture Nominees and wrote that they were “ignored, unloved and turned down flat by most of the same studios that…bankroll hundreds of sequels, including a follow-up to Deuce Bigalow: Male Gigolo, a film that was sadly overlooked at Oscar time because apparently nobody had the foresight to invent a category for Best Running Penis Joke Delivered by a Third-Rate Comic.”

Schneider retaliated by attacking Goldstein in full-page ads in Daily Variety and the Hollywood Reporter. In an open letter to Goldstein, Schneider wrote: “Well, Mr. Goldstein, I decided to do some research to find out what awards you have won. I went online and found that you have won nothing. Absolutely nothing. No journalistic awards of any kind…Maybe you didn’t win a Pulitzer Prize because they haven’t invented a category for Best Third-Rate, Unfunny Pompous Reporter Who’s Never Been Acknowledged by His Peers.”

Reading this, I was about to observe that Schneider can dish it out but he can’t take it. Then I found he’s not so good at dishing it out, either. I went online and found that Patrick Goldstein has won a National Headliner Award, a Los Angeles Press Club Award, a RockCritics.com award, and the Publicists’ Guild award for lifetime achievement.

Schneider was nominated for a 2000 Razzie Award for Worst Supporting Actor, but lost to Jar-Jar Binks.

But Schneider is correct, and Patrick Goldstein has not yet won a Pulitzer Prize. Therefore, Goldstein is not qualified to complain that Columbia financed Deuce Bigalow: European Gigolo while passing on the opportunity to participate in Million Dollar Baby, Ray, The Aviator, Sideways and Finding Neverland. As chance would have it, I have won the Pulitzer Prize, and so I am qualified. Speaking in my official capacity as a Pulitzer Prize winner, Mr. Schneider, your movie sucks.

Speaking in my official capacity as a reader, I would not be surprised to hear that, at the moment that Roger Ebert typed that concluding statement into his word processor, he was bodily transported into Heaven, his work on Earth done. How can the rest of his life be anything but a pale anticlimax?

Comments on Also, I happen to have Marshall McLuhan right here:
#1 ::: jane ::: (view all by) ::: August 14, 2005, 11:18 AM:

In case no one else thinks to say it, Patrick I love you.

Jane aka Adam's Mom

#2 ::: Bruce Arthurs ::: (view all by) ::: August 14, 2005, 11:26 AM:

And yet, one of our friends was enthusing just a few days ago about the idea of seeing DB:EG this weekend. Because when she'd seen the first DB movie, she'd actually liked it, and found herself laughing a lot.

Some people like penis jokes. They'll even pay money to be exposed (umm, surely there's a better word choice I could use?) to them.

#3 ::: Richard Brandt ::: (view all by) ::: August 14, 2005, 11:52 AM:

I actually found the first Deuce Bigelow movie surprisingly sweet, since it turns out it wasn't actually about sex, but about women with some serious self-esteem issues getting to feel better about themselves.

Which doesn't mean anyone doesn't deserve a smackdown for spending good money for the privilege of being an ass in public.

I remember when Roger Ebert fondly reviewed the animated sitcom "The Critic," and pointed out that its titular pundit Jay Sherman shared various characteristics of both Gene Siskel and himself. "Like Gene he is bald. And like me, he has won a Pulitzer Prize."

Rog gets a lot of mileage out of that trophy.

#4 ::: Jonathan Vos Post ::: (view all by) ::: August 14, 2005, 12:05 PM:

I can't help but imagine someone saying "... and I have a Hugo Award, so bite me!" while holding said silver phallocentric rocket in a position akin to the Leaning Tower of Pisa in the Deuce Bigalow: European Gigolo ads.

Jane (the OTHER other Jane?): If I haven't told you before, proud parent to proud parent, Adam is really smart, really cool, and was a pleasure to speak with in that suite with the gorgeous view of the Clyde...

#5 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: August 14, 2005, 01:06 PM:

This almost makes for him damaging my enjoyment of my first reading of, "The Name of the Rose" by giving away (with an air of disdain) the book causing all the trouble.

"And I don't see why anyone would be so upset about a copy of 'X'."

Pissed me right off it did, because I could see why that book would cause that trouble. It made figuring the rest of the puzzle much easier.

But that, that makes up for it. I still don't pay attention to his reviews, but I can now forgive him that lapse.

TK

#6 ::: Harry Connolly ::: (view all by) ::: August 14, 2005, 01:24 PM:

I have a long-lasting sympathy for Rob Schneider in this situation. Sure, he was sloppy and wrong about Patrick Goldstein. Sure, his movies are ultra low brow entertainment.

But the guy makes people laugh. To me, that's a good thing, no matter how terrible his movies are.

#7 ::: John M. Ford ::: (view all by) ::: August 14, 2005, 01:32 PM:

While I, on the front of my very own refrigerator, held there by one of the magnets that doth dwell there, have a photograph of Debbie Notkin, Alan Bostick, Elise, and myself, in front of the humongous fish tank at Caesars Palace. Taken by Emma Bull, with her own two hands. (I think she used two.) As Will looked on.

Which I doubt Thomas L. Friedman can say on his best day.

#8 ::: mythago ::: (view all by) ::: August 14, 2005, 01:34 PM:

On the bright side, Ebert will never ever have to buy his own beer when somebody who read that column is in the bar.

But the guy makes people laugh.

So does Rush Limbaugh.

(Don't get me wrong--even Shakespeare did penis jokes. But fercrissakes, they have to be funnier than just referencing the penis.)

I can't help but imagine someone saying "... and I have a Hugo Award, so bite me!" while holding said silver phallocentric rocket in a position akin to the Leaning Tower of Pisa in the Deuce Bigalow: European Gigolo ads.

I am now having flashbacks to the submission scene with the Steel Commander in The Iron Dream. Before coffee. Damn you, Vos Post!

#9 ::: Aaron ::: (view all by) ::: August 14, 2005, 01:43 PM:

Ebert already was there due to this review or North. It's tough to pick a favorite line, but I've always been fond of


I hated this movie. Hated hated hated hated hated this movie. Hated it. Hated every simpering stupid vacant audience-insulting moment of it. Hated the sensibility that thought anyone would like it. Hated the implied insult to the audience by its belief that anyone would be entertained by it.

#10 ::: Adam S (aka Jane's son) ::: (view all by) ::: August 14, 2005, 02:17 PM:

My favorite review of all times comes from The City Pages about that seminal SF work, Stargate. It said simply:

"A George Lucas production of an Earth, Wind, and Fire album cover."

Still, those by Ebert (did you know he won a Pulitzer?), are mighty, mighty good.

#11 ::: Patrick Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: August 14, 2005, 03:17 PM:

We at Making Light would like to be clear on the subject of dumb funny movies. We're in favor of them. We're also in favor of perfect opportunities to take down blowhards. It's all good.

#12 ::: julia ::: (view all by) ::: August 14, 2005, 03:34 PM:

Fred has a beautiful quote from an Ebert review up as we speak

er, type

#13 ::: Andrew Willett ::: (view all by) ::: August 14, 2005, 05:18 PM:

My personal favorite movie-review moment is the opening paragraph of A.O. Scott's review in the NY Times of Pearl Harbor, thus:

The Japanese sneak attack on Pearl Harbor that brought the United States into World War II has inspired a splendid movie, full of vivid performances and unforgettable scenes, a movie that uses the coming of war as a backdrop for individual stories of love, ambition, heroism and betrayal. The name of that movie is From Here to Eternity.

It just makes you feel all warm and fuzzy inside.

In re: the new Deuce Bigalow movie, I'm not too proud to admit that the Leaning Tower gag in its shamelessly lowbrow poster makes me snicker, every time. On the other hand, they couldn't leave well enough alone, and threw in a pigeon-poop joke as well. In my mind that tells us enough about the filmmakers to know to give this one a miss.

#14 ::: chance ::: (view all by) ::: August 14, 2005, 05:50 PM:

For years I waited eagerly for the Tom Shales review of the Kathie Lee Gifford Christmas special and then she stopped making them.

Christmas hasn't been the same ever since.

#15 ::: Marilee ::: (view all by) ::: August 14, 2005, 06:30 PM:

Well, if we're talking about dumb funny movies, I set in last night to watch two SciFi Original Movies. The first was Alien Siege which it turned out I'd already seen and still couldn't remember past whatever scene was currently showing.

The second was Alien Express which was so bad it was hilarious. No need for MST3King, it was written that way. (Does Lou Diamond Phillips really need money that badly?)

#16 ::: Alex Cohen ::: (view all by) ::: August 14, 2005, 06:51 PM:

Aaron - that review of North is indeed one of my favorite reviews; my father and I often repeat the opening to each other.

But it's not the all-time best Ebert, imo. Here, in all its glory, his review of Jerry Lewis's Hardly Working:

HARDLY WORKING is one of the great non-experiences of my moviegoing life. I was absolutely stunned by the vast stupidity of this film. It was a test of patience and tolerance that a saint might not have passed--but I didn't walk out. I remained for every single last dismal wretched awful moment.
Every. Last. Dismal. Wretched. Awful. Moment.

#17 ::: Emma ::: (view all by) ::: August 14, 2005, 07:12 PM:

Marilee, I think he must have taken the job because at least it lets him practice. He was the only...no wait, I was going to say Lou was the only "thing" worth watching in that movie, except...did you notice at the climax when Lou confronts the creature, how much the creature looks like a kid throwing a temper tantrum because his mom won't let him eat all the Halloween candy? Every time it smacks the floor with its "flippers" you can see the latex bounce. Jeez, a kid with half-way decent software could have done better!

#18 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: August 14, 2005, 07:19 PM:

Point for discussion:

The schlock movies that Sci Fi produces and runs are the equivalent of B movie SF of the 50s and 60s.

They used to run this kind of thing on Saturday mornings when I was a kid: Wonderful, stupid stuff about radioactive mutant cat ladies time-traveling from the future, and buildings snatched off of the earth to distant asteroids, and spaceships shlepped into a post-holocaust future world, Mexican remixes of Frankenstein, and so on.

MST3K gave the treatment to some of these (the one about the mutant cat lady, for example) but they don't really need it.

#19 ::: tom p ::: (view all by) ::: August 14, 2005, 08:02 PM:

This is, without a shadow of a doubt, my favourite vitriolic movie review of all time. It's a thing of the purest beauty. And Sphere was atrocious.

#20 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: August 14, 2005, 08:25 PM:

Tom, that is sublime. Everybody else: if you can't get through on that link, let me know. Patrick saved the review as an image file. In a pinch, we can transcribe it.

#21 ::: Lenny Bailes ::: (view all by) ::: August 14, 2005, 08:30 PM:

To read the review, just use your geekish animal cunning:

Go to http://www.camazotz.com/misc, then click on the "sphere.jpg" file listing.

#22 ::: Patrick Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: August 14, 2005, 08:32 PM:

Actually, what appears to have happened is that very shortly after Tom posted his link to the jpg of that Sphere review, someone's bandwidth allocation was exceeded.

Fortunately, I managed to grab it before that happened, so we had a copy in our cache. So I've uploaded it to nielsenhayden.com, and edited Tom's link, so everyone can now read it. It's worth the trouble. NSFW, mind you, but worth the trouble...

#23 ::: Lenny Bailes ::: (view all by) ::: August 14, 2005, 08:43 PM:

I'm still able to access the jpeg of the review by going to the www.camazotz.com\misc directory first, then opening the "sphere.jpg" file.

But I just noticed the changed URL link in Tom's post. Never mind.

#24 ::: Andrew Willett ::: (view all by) ::: August 14, 2005, 08:44 PM:

Wow. Tom, I remember reading that review. If the New York Press can be said to have had a golden age, that was it. Breathtaking.

#25 ::: John M. Ford ::: (view all by) ::: August 14, 2005, 09:16 PM:

All Skif-O-Chan Original Purchased Because No Actual Distributor Ever Got Beyond the N3F Suite at ShoWest to Meet the Producers Movies seem to begin with either Alien or Dinosaur. (Unless they're from the Mythos on $5 a Shooting Day Series, in which case they're called something like Shoggoth Cheerleaders Weekend* or Dagon Does Dallas.)

Which makes it possible to work out next season's entire lineup in advance:
Alien Warehouse
Dinosaur Motel
Alien Discount Electronics
Dinosauras Luchadoras
Alien Hoedown**
Dinosaur Drum Song
Alien IKEA
Dinosaur at 54
An Eldritch Thing Happened on the Way to Innsmouth***
Alien Bris
It's a Raptor, Raptor, Raptor, Raptor, Raptor World

*Advertised as "a dark Lovecraftian revisioning of On the Town." It would have been a musical, but the prospective lyricist had too much respect for Comden & Green, and besides, the producers wanted me to buy my own Metrocard.
**"Both racist and sexist." -- Washington Times.
***Halloween special, to be hosted by Kim Newman. They weren't going to tell him, just call up collect at 11pm New York time and hope he'd make gurgle noises on the phone until they got "cut off by mysterious forces from beyond."

#26 ::: Lenny Bailes ::: (view all by) ::: August 14, 2005, 09:38 PM:

I'm sorry. It didn't occur to me that the owner of that site might have inexpertly chmodded his files to avoid running up the hit count on that graphic. You can remove the two posts I made that include the URL link, if you think that would be prudent.

#27 ::: JonathanMoeller ::: (view all by) ::: August 14, 2005, 11:11 PM:

Best. Bad. Movie. Review.

Ever.

Both of them.

#28 ::: Ed Gaillard ::: (view all by) ::: August 15, 2005, 12:14 AM:

I have this image in my mind now of a painting: "The Ascension of Roger Ebert into Heaven", with Ebert, looking happy but bewildered, being accompanied on his ascent by cherubs and seraphs in the likeness of Woody Allen and Orson Welles.

#29 ::: Bill Higgins-- Beam Jockey ::: (view all by) ::: August 15, 2005, 12:23 AM:

Another memorable Ebert review was for The Core, a 2003 excursion into the Earth's core:

Yes, the Earth's core has stopped spinning, and in less than a year the Earth will lose its electromagnetic shield and we'll all be toast--fried by solar microwaves. To make that concept clear to a panel of U.S. military men, Professor Josh Keyes (Aaron Eckhart) of the University of Chicago borrows a can of room freshener, sets the propellant alight with his Bic, and incinerates a peach.

To watch Keyes and the generals contemplate that burnt peach is to witness a scene that cries out from its very vitals to be cut from the movie and made into ukulele picks. Such goofiness amuses me.

I have such an unreasonable affection for this movie, indeed, that it is only by slapping myself alongside the head and drinking black coffee that I can restrain myself from recommending it.

#30 ::: John M. Ford ::: (view all by) ::: August 15, 2005, 03:32 AM:

How can The Ascension of Roger Ebert not include a celestial Gene Siskel, one hand holding a large popcorn with real butter, the other with its thumb upraised in welcome?

And now I guess I'm going to have to catch "The Core" on cable (having seen the trailer in a theater and decided, uh-uh). The flaming peach reminds me of an even greater scene in "Cat Women of the Moon" (which might even be a better picture, since it has Marie Windsor in it). The spacefolks are, surprise, on the Moon -- indeed, they are on the famous Dark Side, where the sun just happens to be out -- wandering around in their spacesuits, and one of the spaceguys observes that it is really, really cold in the lunar shadows, but just darn hot in the sunlight, just like it said in the How & Why Wonder Book of Space Opera Cliches. To prove his point, he pulls a pack o' smokes out of his spacesuit pocket and tosses one into a sunny spot, where it bursts into flame.

As you can see, the peach has a lot to live up to.

#31 ::: cd ::: (view all by) ::: August 15, 2005, 05:02 AM:

Mike Ford: I did the mistake of watching The Core two weeks into my introductory geology course. My liver still aches when I think about it.

#32 ::: James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: August 15, 2005, 08:31 AM:

All that The Core needed to be a perfect movie was a scene where Hillary Swank took a shower for reasons unrelated to the plot.

#33 ::: Xopher (Christopher Hatton) ::: (view all by) ::: August 15, 2005, 09:01 AM:

I couldn't quite read the newspaper clipping, but I recall a pan of Sphere in a gay magazine, which included a line only a gay reviewer could get away with:

Ricky Schroeder plays a--what? That's Sharon Stone? Honey, that haircut is butch.
I very seldom laugh out loud at a movie review, but I did at that one.

#34 ::: Jimcat Kasprzak ::: (view all by) ::: August 15, 2005, 09:24 AM:

Upon seeing the trailer for The Core, My immediate reaction was, "It's Armageddon, underground."

This might help people to decide whether or not they'd get a guilty thrill out of The Core.

#35 ::: Neil Rest ::: (view all by) ::: August 15, 2005, 09:47 AM:

Way back when, reviewing I Am Curious Yellow, Roger Ebert graced our language by creating the word "detumescent."

(*AND* in a recent essay, he said that his time in fandom was one of the things which most taught him how to write.)

#36 ::: Richard Brandt ::: (view all by) ::: August 15, 2005, 09:49 AM:

The perfect movie review was Colin Quinn's news item on SNL Weekend Update:

"Christian Slater, who is serving time in L.A. County Jail for a DWI conviction, was released for one night so he could attend the premiere of his new movie, Hard Rain. Twenty minutes into the movie, Mr. Slater asked to be taken back to his cell."

#37 ::: Jonathan Vos Post ::: (view all by) ::: August 15, 2005, 10:00 AM:

Neil Rest:

Huxley on biological warfare and "Give me detumescence! Concupiscence! No, no, no, no, no!" -- a proto-video-rock --

"The scene darkens; there is a noise of gunfire. When the light comes up, there squats Dr. Albert Einstein, on a leash, behind a group of baboons in uniform."

"The Camera moves across a narrow no-man's land of rubble, broken trees and corpses, and comes to rest on a second group of animals, wearing different decorations and under another flag, but with the same Dr. Albert Einstein, on an exactly similar string, squatting at the heels of their jack boots. Under the tousled aureole of hair, the good, innocent face wears an expression of pained bewilderment. The Camera travels back and forth from Einstein to Einstein. Close shots of the two identical faces, staring wistfully at each other between the polished boots of their respective masters."

"On the sound track, the voice, the saxophones and cellos continue to yearn for detumescence."

"'Is that you, Albert?' one of the Einsteins hesitantly inquires."

"The other slowly nods his head."

"'Albert, I'm afraid it is.'"

"Overhead the flags of the opposing armies suddenly begin to stir in the freshening breeze. The colored patterns open out, then fold in again upon themselves, are revealed and once more hidden...."

"The Camera drops from the flags to the Einsteins to the much-decorated General Staffs in the background. All at once and simultaneously the two Field Marshalissimos shout an order. Immediately, from either side, appear baboon technicians, with fully motorized equipment for releasing aerosols. On the pressure tanks of one army are painted the words SUPER-TULAREMIA, on those of their opponents, IMPROVED GLANDERS, GUARANTEED 99.44% PURE. Each group of technicians is accompanied by its mascot, Louis Pasteur, on a chain. On the Sound-track there is a reminiscence of the baboon-girl. Give me, give me DETUMESCENCE .... Then these voluptuous strains modulate into 'Land of Hope and Glory,' played by massed brass bands, and sung by a choir of fourteen thousand voices...."

Close shot of paws at the stopcocks; then the Camera draws back. Out of the pressure tanks two streams of yellow fog start to roll toward one another, sluggishly, across no-man's land.

[Aldous Huxley, Ape and Essence, New York: Harper & Brothers Publishers, 1948]

#38 ::: joe ::: (view all by) ::: August 15, 2005, 10:00 AM:

An interesting difference between Goldstein and Ebert: Goldstein's attack was personal, and it was based on...what? Ebert stuck to what he had seen and said the movie sucked. I like Ebert for that.

#39 ::: Amanda ::: (view all by) ::: August 15, 2005, 10:14 AM:

The New York Daily News neatly dispatched Oliver Stone's _Alexander_ in it's little mini-review synopsis of that movie last year with the following (slightly paraphrased):

"Alexander the Great took five long, grueling years to subdue the Persian Empire [...] Oliver Stone compresses that slightly to tell this story of...."

#40 ::: Faren Miller ::: (view all by) ::: August 15, 2005, 10:53 AM:

I've just been reading the ongoing discussion about the reviewerly shorthand "self-indulgent", noted on Jonathan Strahan's blog http://notesfromcoodestreet.blogspot.com/. True, and we do have to be careful about such things, but isn't it nice to just let 'er rip and pan something as sheer trash? Very refreshing!

#41 ::: Fledgist ::: (view all by) ::: August 15, 2005, 12:28 PM:

Now this is what I call a review.

#42 ::: Madeleine Robins ::: (view all by) ::: August 15, 2005, 12:40 PM:

Mick LaSalle, my local movie critic, had this to say in yesterday's paper about why his writing improves when he writes a bad review (it rather reminds me of my feelings in my slush-reading days):

The reason that some of those bad reviews might read well is that they're sincere accounts of an extreme experience -- comparable to any firsthand account of a disaster. Each of them is an attempt to put into words an experience I considered akin to torture. In putting words to such an event, the event inevitably seems funny on the page, but the humor, to the extent it's there, doesn't derive from a disposition to mockery but from a genuine effort to describe a specific variety of hideousness. Thus, the reader laughs not because the critic is inflicting pain, which isn't funny, but because the critic is in pain, which is funny. The reader gets to enjoy the critic's suffering. I can explain this further by adding that if I were just being a wise guy making snippy remarks, the reviews wouldn't read funny at all. (There are few things less funny than a critic's trying to be funny, and nothing less useful than a critic's filtering information through the cliched, distorted and self-protective prism of a knee-jerk snideness.) No, really the only way for a bad review to be fun is for it to be the honest product of misery. Of course, as I find these movies genuinely painful, you can guess the answer to your last question: I never want to sit through a stinker, ever. Life is short, and the idea of wasting 100 minutes of quality breathing on garbage like "Alien vs. Predator" or "Last Days" seems almost obscene, like an insult to creation..

#43 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: August 15, 2005, 01:18 PM:

Mick Lasalle? It's because of his positive review of The Core that I saw it. Lasalle's track record, where SF movies are concerned, shows a strong lack of enthusiasm for the genre. Everybody else was trashing it and there he was, doing the opposite. I saw it. And I loved it. Bad science. Sure. It's just that I always loved movies like that, Crack in the World being another example. And it didn't hurt that The Core had a character named Serge.

One last thing about Lasalle... I'll never forget his review of X-men 2. It went like this.

"This movie celebrates the death of humanity."

#44 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: August 15, 2005, 01:26 PM:

Comparing the SciFi Channel's usual fare to the movies of the Fifties actually is unfair to the latter. Bad as those often were, they frequently were about plunging into the Unknown. Sure, an Unknown with cheesy special effects. But how much exploration of that do we get on the SciFi Channel? Give me the bat/rat/spider creature of The Angry Red Planet any day.

#45 ::: Kayjay ::: (view all by) ::: August 15, 2005, 01:46 PM:

I have this image in my mind now of a painting: "The Ascension of Roger Ebert into Heaven",

And now, so do I.

#46 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: August 15, 2005, 01:52 PM:

But Ebert loved The Phantom Menace...

#47 ::: Madeleine Robins ::: (view all by) ::: August 15, 2005, 02:44 PM:

LaSalle is, for my money, wildly uneven in what he likes and doesn't. But (as one who has worked her way through a very bad 700 page over-the-transom manuscript and then had to write a report on it) his comments on why a reviewer might get fulsomely testy about the work under review ring true to me.

For all time best line, I like Anthony Lane's comment on Demi Moore's The Scarlet Letter, which he said was "in the words of the opening credits, 'freely adapted from the novel by Nathaniel Hawthorne,' in the same way that methane is freely adapted from cows."

#48 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: August 15, 2005, 02:55 PM:

What do we expect from anything with Demi Moore? She, by the way, once worked on a movie that made it on MST3K. I think it was called City Limits.

As for Lasalle , maybe he was in a bad mood when he reviewed X-men 2, but the line I quoted earlier wasn't just a last-minute zinger. The whole review was like that. It made me glad that Lasalle probably will never have to vote on something like the Mutant Registration Act.

#49 ::: Andrew Willett ::: (view all by) ::: August 15, 2005, 03:15 PM:

Meanwhile, the papers are weighing in on the new Lennon biography-jukebox-musical-thing that opened last night on Broadway. First line from the Times review:
   In the immortal words of Yoko Ono, "Aieeeee!"

#50 ::: Marilee ::: (view all by) ::: August 15, 2005, 06:52 PM:

Emma, the creatures looked like children's hand-puppets to me. I think they hired the actresses based on their screaming.

#51 ::: adamsj ::: (view all by) ::: August 15, 2005, 07:37 PM:

Andrew,

I saw that review, and my first impulse was to go slap the reviewer a good one for that lead.

#52 ::: Robert L ::: (view all by) ::: August 15, 2005, 09:57 PM:

All that The Core needed to be a perfect movie was a scene where Hillary Swank took a shower for reasons unrelated to the plot.

Which is why Red Planet is the quintessentially bad sf movie (OK, it's Carrie-Ann Moss, not Hillary, but she'll do.)

#53 ::: Vishal ::: (view all by) ::: August 16, 2005, 10:03 AM:

I can't for the life of me remember where I read this, but the link to a review of last year's Will Smith movie I, Robot was as follows:

"I, Robot: Asimov, raped."

V

#54 ::: Wrye ::: (view all by) ::: August 16, 2005, 01:20 PM:

But Ebert loved The Phantom Menace...

Well, in all fairness, there was a lot to love. It was a gorgeous travelogue set in the Star Wars Universe. It didn't really introduce the characters or conflicts that needed to be introduced, had next to nothing to do with the next two chapters (As one review I read pointed out, it stubbornly refuses to do the things that a first chapter of anything needs to do), and was spectacularly ill concieved in the larger sense (one does not set up the creation of one of the greatest movie villains ever with what's thematically an update of the Ewok Adventure) but as a self-contained children's movie, there's a lot to like. It's a deeply flawed and frustrating movie, not an irredemably bad one. A *lot* of people chose to saw the glass as half full, so Ebert's not exactly out to lunch there, and (as best I recall) he wasn't exactly blind to the problems, either--he just enjoyed the visuals. Which is fine, for a travelogue.

#55 ::: Xopher (Christopher Hatton) ::: (view all by) ::: August 16, 2005, 01:35 PM:

Vishal, if you can dig that up I'd love to know. Sounds like a critic worth checking into.

#56 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: August 16, 2005, 02:29 PM:

I originally went to see The Phantom Menace with an open mind. Yes, it had great visuals, but... But the acting was so damned bad. Lucas had managed to make a movie even worse than Return of the Jedi.

#57 ::: Clifton Royston ::: (view all by) ::: August 16, 2005, 03:04 PM:

It wasn't just the acting - nobody could have acted a lot of that dialog convincingly, and the plot was atrocious.

After viewing The Phantom Menace, my reaction was that the Jedi Council and the Republic deserved to fall, if they so happily tolerated slavery. "You, you're a natural-born ubermensch - we'll take you away and train you. But your Mom? She stays here. Can't deprive her owner of his rightful property, now can we?" I have had enough samples now of how Lucas writes on his own, that I have come to believe that Leigh Brackett must have had an uncredited hand in writing the first Star Wars movie, not just the second.

Forgive the brief diatribe, but I finally saw Revenge of the Sith, and while it wasn't as bad as the previous two - that's faint enough praise to damn it.

#58 ::: coln roald ::: (view all by) ::: August 16, 2005, 03:14 PM:

"City Limits" had Kim Cattrall. It was "Master Ninja" that had Demi Moore.

I miss my MST3k.

#59 ::: Georgiana ::: (view all by) ::: August 16, 2005, 03:40 PM:

Vishal - was it here?

#60 ::: Berry ::: (view all by) ::: August 16, 2005, 04:03 PM:

Georgina, that references the original at Treacher's blog here.

#61 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: August 16, 2005, 04:20 PM:

Yeah, well, Clifton, the slavery bothered me a lot, but I didn't bring it up because I was trying to keep my post short. There was also the racism, with the alien merchants sounding vaguely Korean. And Jar-jar Binks? Gag me with a frigging spoon.

#62 ::: Didi ::: (view all by) ::: August 16, 2005, 05:10 PM:

My favorite Ebert review is the one he wrote about "Freddie Got Fingered." The best part was this:

"This movie doesn't scrape the bottom of the barrel. This movie isn't the bottom of the barrel. This movie isn't below the bottom of the barrel. This movie doesn't deserve to be mentioned in the same sentence with barrels"

#63 ::: Bob Devney ::: (view all by) ::: August 16, 2005, 05:40 PM:

My most fondly remembered review line would have to be the great Pauline Kael's balanced consideration of AN OFFICER AND A GENTLEMAN:

"It's crap -- but crap on a motorcycle."

#64 ::: John Ferguson ::: (view all by) ::: August 16, 2005, 06:03 PM:

I never read a Roger Ebert review before I go see a movie. Afterwards, I discover we agree about 95% of the time. He's obviously a genius.

#65 ::: James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: August 16, 2005, 06:07 PM:

Ha! I actually saw Demi Moore's first film in a theatre. That was Parasite ("It lives to reproduce and kill!") in 3D. Ms. Moore's job in the film was to be 3D.

That was a great movie.

#66 ::: John M. Ford ::: (view all by) ::: August 16, 2005, 06:47 PM:

"It lives to reproduce and kill!"

Oh, and I suppose that makes it special.

Though I guess we could have "Unusual Survival Strategy Theatre:"

Pet Rock from Beyond Infinity
"It lives to hold down loose papers and amuse those who are . . . EASILY AMUSED!"

The Dweller in the Spare Bedroom
"It lives to not be any trouble at all!"

It Came from Bradbury's Bottom Drawer
"It lives to make green bean casserole . . . and it knows you are out of fried onions!"

Alien Actuary
"It lives to outlive that which lives!"

#67 ::: Paula Lieberman ::: (view all by) ::: August 16, 2005, 06:51 PM:

1. So, how many breast shots were there in Parasite?

2. I would like to see the 4th and 6th films films produced (I saw the one between. Bleeeeaaaahhhhh!....) with the dialogue track obliterated and completely replaced, preferably with a script written by e.g. various of the people here. As for #5 in production order, the male lead wasn't the least appealing to me male lead character ever, but on a scale of Coyote Ugly to drool-slobber-slobber-etc., it was Coyote Ugly. YUCH! Sex appeal rating: -10 !!

The other films have the virtue that I have -not- seen them, and not -heard- them. The combination of the two for #5 filmed, mean that I'm not in any real hurry for a repeat. If however there were a complete replacement of the dialogue track and much of the rest of the audio, AND editing of the film to cut down Botox Baby Anakin (emotional maturity quotient, 3 year old brat or maybe tantrum-throwing two year old, and the facial expression was "there's nobody home inside who gives a damn, so -what- facial expresson diversity?--NONE!")time on-screen.

3. Apparently Cary Fischer [Fisher? However it's spelled...] and the other cast members rewrote Lucas' lame dialog, massively, and script edited it, too. Copyediting....

#68 ::: Paula Lieberman ::: (view all by) ::: August 16, 2005, 07:00 PM:

On second thought, Coyote Ugly isn't appropriate regarding the male lead of Attack of the Clones, it's "wake up and find yourself next to what? Quick, grab clothing and RUN, do NOT bother puttig clothing on until out the door and away! Do not leave behind any body parts. Do not spend time looking for Paper Bags. Just get out of there, now!!

The character played by Ewan MacGregor at least has the virtue of major prettiness. The dialogue was of surpassing banality, stupidity, etc. etc., but at least the character was pretty to look at. The Anakin character's looks, however, appealed to me not one whit, not at all good-looking to me. What was there about him that was supposed to be appealing to anyone??!!!

#69 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: August 16, 2005, 07:00 PM:

I remember Harrison Ford telling Lucas during the shooting of SW, "George, you can write shit like that, you just can't SAY it." or words to the effect. Frankly, the latest movies needed someone like Han Solo.

Wandering back into MST3K territory... As opposed to the nearby LucasLand... They recently had a survey n their site for which movies we'd want to see on Rhino's next boxed set. I put The Day the Earth Froze on top of my list, along with Hercules and the Captive Women. I even did it twice. To no avail.

Alien Actuary...?

#70 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: August 16, 2005, 07:04 PM:

I read somewhere that George originally wanted the grownup Banakin Starbucker to be played by Leonardo di Caprio. Might have been an improvement.

#71 ::: Paula Lieberman ::: (view all by) ::: August 16, 2005, 07:41 PM:

I heard that the "talent" in the second three films produced can actually act, though there wasn't much evidence of it in the film that I saw.... direction and such I presume can make major differences. The original film, the cast seems to have exercised a lot more influence and control than the contemporary casts I surmise. But then, Lucan was a billionaire etc. way back then....

#72 ::: Will Entrekin ::: (view all by) ::: August 16, 2005, 08:24 PM:

Re: MST3k comments-- You know, oddly enough, I've heard that if you get BearShare, a p2p program somewhat similar to Napster, many episodes of MST3k, including but not limited to those produced by Rhino and already on DVD, are available for download. I can neither confirm nor deny the validity of the information, but I know several people who have downloaded several episodes of MST3k. Of course, they downloaded them because the movies weren't available from, say, Rhino, or any other legitimate source to which one might write letters requesting, nay, -imploring- for the mainstream distribution of these episodes.

#73 ::: John M. Ford ::: (view all by) ::: August 16, 2005, 08:46 PM:

No, no, no, "Lucan" was the bloke who made Balaclava: The Empire Strikes Back to Highly Questionable Effect.

And Day the Earth Froze is actually a rather good film, if you can see the original Finnish version; it's an adaptation of "The Trials of Lemminkainen" from the Kalevala, and while it certainly helps if you're already familiar with the story, the picture makes a lot more sense when it's not filleted for MST.

Over a long career, a Russian director named Aleksandr Ptushko made a series of elaborately produced fantasy films. Three of these from the Fifties -- "Sampo," "Ilya Mourometz," and "Sadko" -- were picked by cheap-bleep American distributors, cut, atrociously dubbed, and released to guileless American children who had no idea the Red Menace was chortling dialectically from behind the screen. Ptushko's movies have faults -- they're sometimes slow, rely on prior familiarity with the story (which was fine for their original audience), and often are too authentically fairy-taley for audiences used to the hard-edged realism of, say, 007 pictures. But they often have a lot of visual imagination; in "Mourometz," there are vast widescreen army scenes where there were allegedly 100,000 extras, and a sequence where the Tartar emperor orders his men to make a human hill so he can ride his (obviously battle-hardened) horsie to the top and see what's going on with the enemy.

#74 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: August 16, 2005, 08:58 PM:

Thanks for the MST3K info, Will.

I also think that The Day the Earth Froze is a good movie, Mike. It's probably one of my favorite MST3K entries because it stands on its own even without the jokes. But add those and I'm in Heaven.

Another MST3K movie that I think is actually quite decent is First Spaceship on Venus. I understand that it's based on a Stanislaw Lem novel and also that the author didn't care much for the adaptation. But it's better than Lucas's Dumb Menace.

#75 ::: David Goldfarb ::: (view all by) ::: August 17, 2005, 12:16 AM:

"Failure, failure, total failure / Total failure, tra-la-la."

#76 ::: Barbara Gordon ::: (view all by) ::: August 17, 2005, 02:16 AM:

Another fine review of Sphere can be found here:
http://jabootu.com/sphere.htm
in fact, the whole Jabootu site is worth exploring, especially the glossary which includes such insights as:
Designated Hero (n): A character who we know the film regards as its "hero," even though he or she is not, in any objective sense, all that heroic. Designated Heroes usually get a "free from responsibility" pass from the filmmakers, even when their actions result in mass deaths. Take, for example, Ally Sheedy's reporter character in Man's Best Friend. The movie "blames" its generic Mad Scientist for the film's mayhem. Yet it was the film's "heroine" who illegally broke into the guy's lab and, in fact, loosed the killer dog upon the world. She then hides the dog at home, over the objections of her boyfriend, who is later horribly killed by it. Yet the film never explores (or even mentions) her culpability in the resultant carnage, pretty much just because she's "the hero." This concept is most deeply explored in Douglas Milroy's review of The Beast, which contains a bonus Designated Villain as well as a Designated Hero.
and:
Monster Death Trap Proviso (n): This stipulates that any stratagem to destroy a monster, once it has failed, may not be attempted again, even if it only failed because of some bizarre fluke. Nor can the same plan be refined and tried again. Instead, a completely other plan must be formulated.

#77 ::: Niall McAuley ::: (view all by) ::: August 17, 2005, 06:34 AM:

I was pleasantly surprised by the level of Asimov in the movie I, Robot, given that it was a Will Smith vehicle.

On the Star Wars Prequels, the original Star Wars movie is a favourite of mine, but you can see all the faults of the prequels in it in embryonic form: rubbish dialogue, terrible actors, terrible acting from good actors, all ignored by the director who's thinking only of the great visuals.

What Star Wars had was a non-stop cut-cut-cut frenetic energy, which glossed over the flaws. That was cut into it during editing, after Lucas's first cut was a disaster.

I think that the original movie would have been at least as bad as Episode III without that recut.

#78 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: August 17, 2005, 09:11 AM:

Of course the original Star Wars was very flawed. But it WAS the first of its kind. As for its actors being terrible... Harrison Ford? Peter Cushing? Alec Guiness? I remember an interview with Mark Hammill: before the movie came out, he was concerned that the actors would be overshadowed by the visuals, and he said so to Guiness; the latter responded that, if people didn't care about the characters, it wouldn't matter how great the visuals were.

As for Bananaskin Starbucker - The Early Years, someone once wrote that, while Star Wars was for the ten-year-old in you, the more recent movies were for 10-year-olds. Harsh, but not untrue.

#79 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: August 17, 2005, 09:16 AM:

"Failure, failure...", David? My favorite joke from The Day the Earth Froze is when, after the Witch has stolen the sun (thus the title), she can be seen flying across the sky, with a trail of sparks left behind by the sun. As the MST3K bunch pointed out, it did make the Witch look like she was dragging her muffler.

#80 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: August 17, 2005, 09:58 AM:

For all my griping about George Lucas, I'll always be grateful to him for bringing the rebirth of space opera in written SF. I know, I know, he wasn't the only factor in that rebirth. It was probably in the air and was bound to happen no matter what. I remember when Leigh Brackett brought back Eric John Stark in the early Seventies and how I devoured The Ginger Star. But Lucas may have been the one to give things a big shove. Then people like C.J.Cherryh came along. And eventually what's been called New Space Opera.

#81 ::: Mike G. ::: (view all by) ::: August 17, 2005, 12:53 PM:

Ms. Moore's job in the film was to be 3D.

wow, that's a line that cries out for a Striptease reference... :)

#82 ::: Wrye ::: (view all by) ::: August 17, 2005, 01:07 PM:

Although some people now have the idea that Lucas created Space Opera--a friend of mine objected to Titan A.E. on those grounds. I had to repress the urge to drop the Collected E.E. "Doc" Smith on his head.

And the slavery in Episode 1 exemplifies why it's a crummy first chapter: great trouble is taken to set it up, plot points naturally flow from it, and it's then pretty much forgotten in the following movies. It's possible to imagine a much more coherent Episode 2 that actually dealt with it head on...

sigh. It needed Han, indeed.

#83 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: August 17, 2005, 01:31 PM:

Well, Wrye, aside from what he did on the original movie and on Raiders of the Lost Ark, Lucas has shown himself to be a lousy storyteller. He could have asked for help, but too many people have called him a genius, unfortunately. There are plenty of real SF writers who'd have been willing to cook up something for him nearly free of charge.

I'm hoping that Joss Wheadon's Serenity will start people realizing that there are others who can do Space Opera. Who knows? I like thinking of what Lensmen would look like on the big screen, especially if Doc Smith were channeled by way of Cordwainer Smith.

#84 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: August 17, 2005, 02:07 PM:

Could the Lensmen books be adapted to screen "straight?"

We might end up with a satirical raspberry like Starship Troopers, or something dark and moody and twisted like the revamped Battlestar Galactica.

#85 ::: Harry Connolly ::: (view all by) ::: August 17, 2005, 02:08 PM:

Actually, "Lucan" was a boy raised by wolves who was capable of Amazing Animalistic Feats of Physical Prowess, as long as he paused a moment first so that his mood contact lenses could turn from brown to red.

And I would start watching Sci-Fi Originals again to catch ALIEN HOEDOWN. Just leave out the murderous, suicide-bomber space liberals.

#86 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: August 17, 2005, 02:28 PM:

Sure, Lensmen could be done straight. But changes would need to be made, starting with the first chapter of the first book, unless one finds no problem with a graduation ceremony that's straight out of a Nazi propaganda film. Or one could keep that stuff in it and pretend that Cordwaineer Smith is rewriting the concept.

I wonder how Edmond Hamilton's Star Kings would fare. No major conceptual hurdle, because it basically is The Prisoner of Zenda transposed to the far future.

#87 ::: adamsj ::: (view all by) ::: August 17, 2005, 09:38 PM:

On a tangent, was Fritz Leiber's The Wanderer the first big disaster novel told from the multitudinous point of view? I can't think of another offhand.

#88 ::: Jonathan Vos Post ::: (view all by) ::: August 17, 2005, 09:47 PM:

adamsj:

WORLD COMES TO AN END: no more civilization, or people, or worse...

Totally apocalyptic novels may have started as a subgenre of science fiction with "The Last Man", by Cousin de Grainville (1805), the author being a rather a heretical priest. In terms of literally destroying the planet Earth, we may start with astronomer Camille Flammarion's "Omega: The Last Days of the World" (1893).

Some simply smashing books:

* "The Last Man", by Cousin de Grainville (1805)
* "The Last Man", by Mary Shelley [18??]: Plague
* "Omega: The Last Days of the World" by Camille Flammarion (1893)
* "Etidorpha: on the End of Earth" by John Uri Lloyd [Lloyd, 1895; Sun, 1975; Pocket]
* "The Purple Cloud" by M. P. Shiel (1901): volcanic gas kills everyone except the protagonist
* "The Second Deluge" by Garrett P. Serviss (1912): Earth flooded by watery nebula, a few people saved by a second Ark
* "The Poison Belt" by Arthur Conan Doyle (1913)
* "The Scarlet Plague" by Jack London (1915): disease permanently ends civilization....

#89 ::: adamsj ::: (view all by) ::: August 18, 2005, 12:06 AM:

Thanks, Jonathan, but I wonder whether anyone had used the technique Leiber used, moving from viewpoint character to viewpoint character, both covering and expresisng the scope of the events.

(Probably War and Peace does this, but I've not read it.)

#90 ::: Jonathan Vos Post ::: (view all by) ::: August 18, 2005, 12:31 AM:

Stylistically, I see some parallels between Fritz Leiber's The Wanderer and the USA Trilogy (The 42nd Parallel / 1919 / The Big Money), that major work of American realist novelist John Dos Passos. Global events as background, epic scope, huge cast, newspaper headlines, impressionistic or pointillistic montage (as Larry Niven tries for at times).

#91 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: August 18, 2005, 01:06 AM:

Brunner used that technique more deliberately in Stand on Zanzibar, but from what I remember of it The Wanderer certainly qualifies.

(And come to think of it, so does the first and much better half of Brin's Earth.)

#92 ::: Jonathan Vos Post ::: (view all by) ::: August 18, 2005, 01:56 AM:

Stefan Jones:

I think that you are right in ascribing the John Dos Passos/USA Trilogy approach to John Brunner's Stand on Zanzibar -- I'd discussed that with him.

I also think you're right that Dave Brin used it in "Earth." Brin was attracted to the journalistic sweep of this because, for one thing, his father, the late Herb Brin, was a newspaperman. The elder Brin had worked side by side with Leonard Wibberly in Chicago (the Tribune?), and then the Los Angeles Times, and then founded and ran Heritage, one of the great Jewish newspapers of America.

Dave Brin set Earth 50 years in the future because he felt challenged by this as the most difficult era for Science Fiction -- far enough in the future to make linear extrapolation unreliable, and technological prediction difficult, but not so far in the future that anything could seem plausible.

Dave Brin would also feel some kinship with the political stance of Dos Passos, in that Dave is an unreconstructed Mondale Democrat, with Progressive feelings, and self-described Feminist slant.

#93 ::: Mez ::: (view all by) ::: August 18, 2005, 07:08 AM:

When I hear/read the name "Lucan", memories of this case are my first reaction. The Seventh Earl of Lucan has not been seen since the night of November 7th, 1974, when his children's nanny was beaten to death with a piece of lead pipe, and his estranged wife was attacked [She staggered for help to a pub called The Plumbers' Arms; would you write that?]. Some months later an inquest jury declared him guilty of murder. He was officially declared dead in October 1999 so the family could settle inheritance & so forth, but speculation, rumour & theorising continues.
This spot has a pretty good summary of the history for the 20th anniversary last year, and links, such as Lord Lucan.com, The Lucan Review, and Last Person [known] To See Lord Lucan Alive Dies (in September 2004).
You can find a whole lot more -- about 22,400 results in the UK for "Lord Lucan" on google.co.uk, for instance. I think I'm not unhappy that I've never heard of the other Lucan mentioned above. (Lucasian OTOH, leads to a whole other universe ...)

#94 ::: Bruce Baugh ::: (view all by) ::: August 18, 2005, 12:27 PM:

In every case where I've seen actors from the recent Star Wars movies in other movies, it's been clear that they can act, many of them very well. I have the impression that Lucas has been going for the bland look deliberately, so as to have most room for digital insertions.

#95 ::: Vishal ::: (view all by) ::: August 19, 2005, 03:08 AM:

Firstly, thanks Georgiana and Berry, Defamer was where I saw that quote.

Secondly, hands up everyone who has suffered/guffawed through Starcrash, and what was your favourite moment?

(mine is a toss up between all the thinly veiled robot sex references -- "It feels great to be turned on again!" -- and David Hasselhoff's eye-liner)

#96 ::: John M. Ford ::: (view all by) ::: August 19, 2005, 04:08 AM:

Mez, the Lucan of Balaclava (the third Earl, he was the divisional commander; Lord Cardigan of the fabled jumper -- Lucan's brother-in-law, with whom he shared deep bonds of mutual detestation -- was in command of the Light Brigade) was not a fellow history has much use for -- his nickname during the Irish Potato Famine, "the Exterminator*," suggests why -- but G. Macdonald Fraser has made a typically entertaining character out of him in the Flashman books.

*Yes, I know, it sounds like something from Potato of Vengeance, the Motion Picture.

#97 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: August 19, 2005, 06:47 PM:

Lord Cardigan was known as the "Exterminator"?

My recollection of the history is that he rode unscathed through the full charge, and back, without actually using his sabre.

It sort of conjures an image of a steampunk Arnie with low boiler pressure.

#98 ::: John M. Ford ::: (view all by) ::: August 19, 2005, 07:04 PM:

I know that was an excessively complex sentence, but "The Exterminator" was Lucan's acquired name.

Nothing to do with Balaclava. The family had considerable land in Ireland; Lucan decided that the only economically sound thing to do was get all them Injuns -- uh, Irish off his property and bring in decent tenants.

He was doing this, with all available force (he was Lord-Lieutenant of County Mayo at the time) during the Famine. Not much of a popular outreach.

And comparing Cardigan to Schwarzenegger isn't quite on. He's more a combination of Inspector Clouseau and Colonel Klink. (Assonance -- term used advisedly -- entirely coincidental.)

#99 ::: Matt McIrvin ::: (view all by) ::: August 20, 2005, 12:35 PM:

unless one finds no problem with a graduation ceremony that's straight out of a Nazi propaganda film.

What, like that rally at the end of Star Wars?

#100 ::: Paula Lieberman ::: (view all by) ::: August 20, 2005, 03:23 PM:

Perhaps Lord Lucan and James Bulger joined in a cooperative arrangement....

#101 ::: Bruce E. Durocher II ::: (view all by) ::: September 17, 2005, 11:23 AM:

I've always admired a review Rolling Stone is supposed to have run of an album by The Archies: "Herein are contained sixteen strong arguments against the capitalist system."

And the sight of David Langford's favorite line from the Lensman books involving "10,000 lensed members thrust upwards in silent salute" should be, well, interesting

I would be highly in favor of the Star Kings books being made into films if for no other reason than they had a villain that had style--think Darth Vader as played by the young George Saunders. Especially in the scenes in the second book where he has to keep explaining to the heroes that he's going to stay on their side because they're the only ones stupid enough to promise to keep him alive and actually do so. During which he makes it clear he's using small words so they'll be able to understand him.

Ebert's two failings are that he will give a film a pass if it shows him something he's not seen before (you owe me two hours and parking for that Spawn review, Mr. Ebert), and he's enough of a romantic he'll give a passing review to anything with a love story in it, no matter how badly written or acted it is...

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