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The Treachery Of A Film Critic


Palmerin
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The competition where the first GODFATHER won the Oscar for Best Picture developed, or was manipulated, into a mano a mano with CABARET. I personally don't know why, because I didn't think either movie was that good, but that was how the wide public chose to visualize it. Very instrumental in this contest was the movie critic of EL MUNDO, who kept the Puerto Rican public duly informed on how the fight was going. Once THE GODFATHER I won, you know what that critic did? He started carping that G and C were worthless commercial products unworthy of any prize, and complained about the Oscar not giving its principal award to the work of such auteurs as Fassbinder, Pasolini, and Visconti!

Even to this day I'm still infuriated with the hypocrisy of that critic. If he thought so little of the Oscar, he should have admitted it openly, instead of deceiving the public by pretending to take seriously a contest that he obviously despised.

What critics do you recall who have behaved in a similarly dishonest manner?

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The competition where the first GODFATHER won the Oscar for Best Picture developed, or was manipulated, into a mano a mano with CABARET. I personally don't know why, because I didn't think either movie was that good, but that was how the wide public chose to visualize it. Very instrumental in this contest was the movie critic of EL MUNDO, who kept the Puerto Rican public duly informed on how the fight was going.

 

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I like the idea for this thread. I do think some critics go out of their way to slam a film they don't like...and some critics are easily bought/bribed/manipulated by studios to ensure good publicity.

 

Critics are not infallible.

 

I wouldn't call this the treachery of a film critic but rather the bias and occasional hypocrisy of a film critic.

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  • 5 weeks later...

One of my faves of all time (and is not even out on DVD), La Nuit de Varennes (1983), is an historical drama about King Henry XVI's "escape" from Versailles when the goin' got kind of tough, starring Jean-Louis Barrault (who played Restif de la Bretonne, a writer during the revolutionary period, known especially for racy articles he wrote in a column called Revolutionary Nights), the beautiful Hanna Schygulla (who plays the Countess Sophie de la Borde, a lady of the Court who is avidly devoted to the King and whose her reaction to his imminent demise is so touching it drew me to tears), and then there is good ole Harvey Keitel (who plays our very own haha Thomas Paine and whose voice was probably dubbed in that he probably does not speak French, or if he does he does so quite well). Marcel Mastroianni is also in this picture and I have a standing rule that when talking about this film I never reveal his character because I regard that as a spoiler. One needs to simply watch the movie and allow it to happen. Restiff de la Bretonne would have a field day gathering bits of info from this gentleman for his Revolutionary Nights. Oh Gosh, I've said too much.

 

I don't remember how many stars Leonard Maltin gave it though it wasn't the top-rated Four. I don't mind that but I was appalled to read that he said it "too talky." Maybe it was a little talky, dunno ... what I will say is, wow what talk! Maybe it wasn't riveting every single moment but it was damn good, owing of course to the subject, the actors etc., the point being that "too talky" certainly a pejorative is in this case ridiculous when considering the movie as a whole. I've gotten to the point that if a critic says "too talky" about a movie I gravitate to it. I'll give it a shot.

 

Mr Maltin didn't like The Canterbury Tales either because he apparently had a violent reaction to all the **** scenes. He and Chaucer are no kindred spirits, that for sure. But in all fairness in most cases (but not with Chaucer) "too poopy" might be a valid criticism, "too talky" iffy at best. All this probably doesn't rise (or fall) to the level of treachery, but, uh, almost.

 

I sincerely wish La Nuit de Varennes gets on DVD before I die. They'd better hurry.

 

==
 

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.

What critics do you recall who have behaved in a similarly dishonest manner?

 

We use to have a local film critic, who took himself far too seriously. Every time he reviewed a movie he didn't like, (and that was most of them) he'd give away the ending.

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We use to have a local film critic, who took himself far too seriously. Every time he reviewed a movie he didn't like, (and that was most of them) he'd give away the ending.

 

Just curious, did he live very long after that ... and, if applicable, how long did the murder trial last?

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Just curious, did he live very long after that ... and, if applicable, how long did the murder trial last?

Actually, as strange as it may seem, he was around for something like 20 years, When the paper finally replaced him with a syndicated critic he took up teaching film at a local college. I've never been able to figure it out.

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Pauline Kael noted that some critics gave unfavorable reviews to Pather Panchali, said that the next two films in the trilogy weren't as good as Pather Panchali, and then complained that each subsequent film of Satyajit Ray wasn't as good as the trilogy.

 

A few years back we had a local reviewer who always hated what other critics had praised and praised anything that other critics had hated. Most people thought that The Avengers was a dud, but this guy gave it four stars and put it on his top ten for that year. I like independence in a critic, but this seemed too predictable to represent his genuine taste.

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We use to have a local film critic, who took himself far too seriously. Every time he reviewed a movie he didn't like, (and that was most of them) he'd give away the ending.

 

Remember being a critic is a job and the main goal is getting paid to do said job.  Therefore most critics will go out of their way to stay relevant and this includes being provocative.     A critic can easily be replaced since everyone is a critic. 

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Lenny did give Nuit a favorable review and three stars. The review in his guide doesn't

mention that it was too talky or any other similar formulation. Maybe he wrote or said

that in another place. Maybe Maltin was not a kindred spirit of Pasolini instead of Chaucer.

 

I don't have Maltin's book at my fingertips but I remember his review of Canterbury Tales as sounding uptight, something like "Well, some people might like to see people pooping all over the place, but we feel ...etc," as if the material was not fit for the screen, making Chaucer not a kindred spirit because he is responsible for the original source material. Or maybe he simply thought Pasolini overdid it. No matter, I might very well have said Pasolini, I was just trying to be funny with 'poopy' and 'talky.' Yeah, I know. Haha.

 

The Blockbuster Guide (1997) uses the word "talky" (not "too talky") so that's where I probably got it. Apologies to Leonard Maltin.

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