Jump to content
 
Search In
  • More options...
Find results that contain...
Find results in...

Maltin: On the money or off-target?


Recommended Posts

*I think the ones that bother me most are when he's unnecessarily negative. I don't think a negative review helps anyone. If he feels adversely about a movie, then he should just not review it, which would essentially be the same as giving it zero stars. Or, if he feels like giving something under two stars then he should offer suggestions for how it could've been better (sometimes he does this, but very seldom).*

 

It's called a Movie GUIDE, so he is trying to give us his views (or those of his staff) about the worth of a particular movie. If he thinks some movies are junk or subpar, then THAT is what he should be saying, NOT suggest how it could be better, and DEFINITELY NOT to not review it. He is trying to be fairly comprehensive (well his Classic Movie Guide leaves out the large majority of B films), so there is no need to NOT review a movie for that reason. He may seem harsh on a movie, but he is trying to honestly convey his opinion; whether we agree with him or not, he is doing his job. Obviously he has his biases and preferences, as do we all, so take them for what they're worth.

 

Link to post
Share on other sites

I think he has little tantrums and these come out in his reviews. When he's in a good mood, he's fairer about a film and its performances, even if he doesn't like them. But sometimes, he's immersed in an ugly sort of negativity that makes his writing not fun to read and turns people off. At least that's how I see it.

Link to post
Share on other sites

Movie reviews, whether short capsule ones or longer ones, really

aren't a matter of accuracy or seeing if they reflect the opinions

of most viewers, they're an individual's take on a certain picture.

Sometimes I agree with Maltin, other times I don't, no big deal.

Everybody will have their own opinion. I usually find them interesting,

but I don't take them as the final word on a film, just one more view.

I don't think he has any personal axe to grind, he's just calling a

dog a dog, and sometimes doing so in a humorous way.

 

I also enjoy reading the late Leslie Halliwell's evaluations of movies.

No one was more enchanted by the best of the studio era of films,

but even Halliwell recognized that back in the day there were a number

of routine and mediocre movies that aren't worth watching unless one

is a dyed in the wool masochist.

Link to post
Share on other sites

TopBilled said:

But sometimes, he's immersed in an ugly sort of negativity that makes his writing not fun to read and turns people off. At least that's how I see it.

 

I guess we could say that about any of us here. Maybe we don't mean it the way it reads to someone else, but subtlety isn't always easy to detect. I haven't looked at one of his books in ages but if I came across a review with which I disagreed, I'd turn the page and chances are that I'd find one with which I did agree.

 

I've found him a lot kindlier toward genre films than most, especially Steven Scheuer his predecessor. He wrote of 20 MILLION MILES TO EARTH:

"Science-fiction rides again, it's not worth the trip."

 

That was it, along with a 1 1/2 star rating. No mention of Harryhausen's effects. I doubted that he even saw the film. Maybe that early exposure contributed to my taking such things lightly today. It's just one other person's opinion.

 

Back in the 50s, the works of Anthony Mann, Robert Aldrich, Howard Hawks, Phil Karlson and Douglas Sirk (to name a few) were not as revered by critics as they are today. But the public made the films popular. VERTIGO was dismissed by critics and the public, now it is perhaps the most celebrated film of its director.

 

In the long run, it's what you think that matters. Celebrate what you love and don't let anyone else get you down.

Link to post
Share on other sites

TopBilled, with respect, a critic by definition is critical of whatever he/she is analyzing ( book, record album, film...). This doesn't necessarily mean their default approach is negative, but it does mean that they literally take a critical approach, which means they may or may not say good things about the matter they are reviewing. They're supposed to say what they think of it, but more importantly, they're supposed to say why they have that opinion.

 

For me, a good critic will not only state whether they think a film is good, bad, or indifferent, they will explain how they came to that conclusion. Now of course in the case of those Leonard Maltin reviews, they're not so much reviews as capsule recommendations ( that is, recommending to see the film or not, or if they think it's a bad film, at least letting the potential viewer know what they may be in for ). You can't properly "review" a movie in one short paragraph; those mini-"reviews" plus the star rating are just supposed to give one an idea of what the film's about, who's involved (cast, director...), when it was made, and overall whether he thinks it's a worthy film or not.

Of course there are all kinds of "grey" area, movies that fall somewhere in between "great" and "abysmal". It's hard to go into any detail about those kinds of films in one paragraph. Those movie guides of Maltin's are just to give someone who's thinking of watching a particular film an idea as to whether it's their kind of movie or not. For those who want that, that is. Most of us here are pretty confident in our own opinions about such things, and that may be why sometimes Maltin or other critics who diss a film we like annoy us; "Hey, I know at least as much as he does about movies, who's he to denigrate a film I like?"

 

Anyway, here's one of those "free on-line dictionary" definitions of "CRITIC" :

 

 

1. One who forms and expresses judgments of the merits, faults, value, or truth of a matter.

 

 

 

2.One who specializes especially professionally in the evalutation and appreciation of literary or artistic works: a film critic; a dance critic.

 

 

3.One who tends to make harsh or carping judgments; a faultfinder.

 

 

Now, if one goes by the first two points above, Maltin and other reviewers are simply doing their job. It does seem, however, as though you think he tends too much to the third.

 

 

I don't mind Maltin or any other critic , whether I agree with them or not. I do feel that they should be free and unfettered when it comes to giving a positive or negative review of a film, as long as they provide intelligent reasons for their opinion. I'm obviously equally free to agree or disagree with them.

 

 

I do know that I would find a "critic" who was always positive about the movies they reviewed unprofessional, and would not take them seriously.

 

 

edit -Damn, they've got to do something about that "squiggle" business. No more copy and paste for me !

 

 

 

 

 

Link to post
Share on other sites

MissWonderly said:

I do know that I would find a "critic" who was always positive about the movies they reviewed unprofessional, and would not take them seriously.

 

That would be David Manning, a fictitious critic created by Sony to provide favorable quotes for their films about a decade ago.

Link to post
Share on other sites

I never liked Maltin's reviews. I prefer Pauline Kael or Francois Truffuat. Kael and Truffaut wrote about films with a distinct passion that completely escapes Maltin. In the instances where Kael and Truffaut would gauge the merit of a film by their hearts, Maltin would gauge merit by appeal.

 

I rarely find myself agreeing with Maltin, even when he's praising some of my favorite films. I feel as if the heart and soul of the movie excapes him somehow, and whenever I find myself reading a review he wrote or watching him talk about films, very rarely do I see him take chances with his opinions, or become truly passionate in his convictions. And I mean lovingly passionate. Even when Truffaut absolutely HATED a film, he wrote about it with absolute nobility.

 

 

Maltin is quite low on my list of reviewers.

 

 

It's hard to be a good film critic. But once you become acquainted with one, the imposters stand out like sore thumbs.

 

 

 

Edited by: HarryFabian on Jul 7, 2011 1:00 PM

 

Edited by: HarryFabian on Jul 7, 2011 1:01 PM

Link to post
Share on other sites

I am not a dedicated fan of Leonard Maltin's film criticism and writing, but neither do I loathe him the way many here seem to do. Some of these statements are so extreme I feel compelled to defend Maltin, despite my relative indifference to him.

For instance, HarryFabian (welcome to the boards, by the way ! ) ...are you really suggesting that Leonard Maltin is "an imposter" ?

Link to post
Share on other sites

Great post. I like Pauline Kael too...she's a class act. By my favorite reviewer/critic is James Agee. Agee and Ebert both wrote screenplays. Truffaut went on to make films. I think it lends more credibility to them if they attempt to fashion a film product, instead of sitting on the sidelines and looking down their noses at others all the time.

 

As for Maltin, he seems like an overgrown kid to me, not a man. He would rate Flubber higher than a Paulette Goddard film. It is like watching movies are a chore for him, that he has bitten off more than he can chew, and he has one more review to write, and so he does, irritably and begrudgingly.

Link to post
Share on other sites

missw,

 

I think critic does not mean critical. It does not mean put-downs, attacks and mocking which some of these so-called critics do, to try and be clever at the expense of the artists.

 

There is such a thing as constructive criticism, and in my book, that is the only type of criticism that counts. Everything else falls into the cesspool of negativity, and I do not care to waste time on negativity.

Link to post
Share on other sites

But...(splutter) TopBilled my friend, "critic" does mean "critical". It means, by definition (as I said in the earlier post) analyzing the merits and faults of something - usually a work of art or entertainment, in this case movies.

The word "critic" seems to have been altered over recent years in many people's perception to mean always "negative". But that is not necessarily the case. As was cited in that dictionary definition I gave, "criticism" means:

 

*1. One who forms and expresses judgments of the merits, faults, value, or truth of a matter.*

 

*2.One who specializes especially professionally in the evalutation and appreciation of literary or artistic works: a film critic; a dance critic.*

 

 

So we're talking about someone who judges the merits and faults of a film. We're talking about someone whose job it is to "evaluate " as well as appreciate a film.

 

 

Having said that, I do agree that there are some critics out there - especially on the internet ! - who are far more interested in showing off how clever they are, how sarcastic they can be, and how au courant they are in today's ever-changing pop culture, than in producing a thoughtful and well-written movie review.

Link to post
Share on other sites

I think you are being too literal about this. If we do agree that critic means critical, then we can still be critical in a positive way. That is my point here. There are constructive and destructive ways to critique work (not criticize it).

Link to post
Share on other sites

Well, not to be argumentative, but I was discussing the word "critic" based on the meaning of the word; if that's being "too literal", so be it.

 

I too am a fan of Pauline Kael, but I do find that I often disagree with her, and believe me, if she doesn't like something she trashes it just as relentlessly as Leonard Maltin does. One example: I love the movie West Side Story. When I read her (short) review of it, I was disappointed and somewhat ticked off, not so much because she didn't care fot it, but because of the dismissive way she said so.

I think what it comes down to is , we like critics when we agree with them, and we don't like them when the opposite is the case.

As I said earlier, for me the most important job of a film critic is to explain why, in articulate and knowledgable terms, they think a film is good or not. Just praising it or dissing it - anyone can do that.

 

ps - I dislike the recent trend some film "critics" have taken to, of simply summarizing the plot of the film, then adding a few random comments about the actors etc. A film review is not the same as a film synopsis. I don't want to know the movie's story in any detail. I want to discover it for myself.

Link to post
Share on other sites

I think some of us are adult enough to still appreciate a critic or reviewer even if we don't like what they are saying, as long as they are being constructive and intelligent about it.

 

I do agree that a review should be more than a synopsis of the plot. It needs to be evaluative of the film as a work of art and comment on aspects of performance and have a sense of aesthetic valuing. Anyone can tell us what happened in the story. We need to know how it happened, how successful the artists involved were in translating the story to screen and what sort of entertainment it provides.

Link to post
Share on other sites

I do not seek out his reviews but now that they are with the daily listing they are not easily avoided. I have learned from experience that his tastes and mine are quite opposite. For movies I know nothing about then a low rating from him means I will most likely enjoy it and a high rating from him means it has little or no simple entertainment value.

Link to post
Share on other sites

Just thought I'd throw my two cents in. I've never been a fan of Maltin. He always seemd kind of second-rate to me. Maybe that's because while still in college I discovered both Pauline Kael and the late James Agee. AGEE ON FILM is still one of my favorite, even beloved, books ever written about moves. And, like some others have said, Kael could certainly write. Even when I disagreed with her (which could be quite often) I always loved reading her. I equate Maltin with a kind of Entertainment Tonight -like quality. Not a lot of substance. But, to each his own, I guess.

Link to post
Share on other sites

I agree, Pauline Kael wrote beautifully, and her passion for movies was obvious.

 

A critic I've never been able to make up my mind about is Roger Ebert. Sometimes I really like him, think his reviews are insightful and original, and other times he seems as cranky and moody as someone suggested Maltin was.

I guess it's a combination of his mood at the time he wrote the review, my mood at the time I read it, whether he likes the film, and whether *I* like the film. And when it all comes together, it's a beautiful thing, baby.

 

(hey, I didn't mean that the way it sounded...)

 

Edited by: misswonderly on Jul 8, 2011 10:11 AM

Link to post
Share on other sites

 

When it comes to Classic (studio era) Hollywood films, I tend to not pay attention to reviewers who favor the Auteur viewpoint. I know they will give less merit to entertaining movies NOT made by one of the directors they favor, and I may just want a good competent entertaining movie: with stars and featured players I enjoy, and all departments working at the top of their game. I don't need someone telling me it's less than because someone else made it for a paycheck and had no "personal vision".

 

 

Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now
© 2021 Turner Classic Movies Inc. A Time Warner Company. All Rights Reserved Terms of Use | Privacy Policy | Cookie Settings
×
×
  • Create New...