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The Other Woman Game

I have a game to propose. Read on to see how to play. It’s about recommending better movies to watch. And rewarding artists.

Miniature of the movie poster for The Other Woman, with Cameron Diaz looking all crushed and being glommed on and wrapped around by the other two leggy, smiley women.The new film The Other Woman is making heaping wads of blockbuster cash. Even though, evidently, it is nearly every kind of awful and sets women back thirty years. Linda Holmes produces a most scathing and informative critique of the movie that is a must-read (h/t Amanda at Skepchick). You can also see the trailer for the gist of the plot.

What struck me as I read that review is that I had seen this movie before. Except, in every single way Holmes points out this one sucked, that one didn’t, but did exactly the opposite of everything Holmes rightly complained about. It was as if a time traveler read her review, went back in time, and made the movie Holmes would have liked, based on her review.

That movie is If I Were You, starring Marcia Gay Harden, Leonore Watling, and Aidan Quinn (and directed by Joan Carr-Wiggin). Even apart from the fact that I have a major life-long crush on Marcia Gay Harden, I can vouch for the fact that this was a fantastic film, unique, funny, engaging, well-written, well-directed, and superbly performed. You won’t ever have seen anything like it.

The stock description reads:

After Madelyn (Academy Award Winner Marcia Gay Harden) and Lucy (Leonor Watling) meet by chance, they make a pact to fix their unhappy lives: they will only do what the other one says and ignore their own instincts. But Madelyn has a secret. She knows her husband is sleeping with Lucy, a much younger and beautiful woman. Madelyn’s plan backfires when Lucy, an aspiring actress, orders her to play King Lear in a very amateur production, with Lucy playing the Fool. Madelyn’s life is transformed in unexpected ways as, like Lear, she struggles with matters of mortality and betrayal, loyalty and love.

Yeah. That. Huh? Right. BTW, one of the best King Lear performances I’ve ever seen. By a woman.

Miniature of movie poster for If I Were You, showing Marcia Gay Harden poking her head through a red theatre curtain, and a picture of her character's husband's mistress below.Even though it’s about two women hand-wringing over a man (sort of like The Other Woman, only unlike The Other Woman, there’s just one other woman, and the man is likable enough to plausibly explain why both women want him), it still Bechdel tests well (although the trailer doesn’t). The story isn’t identical to The Other Woman (obviously…I mean, hello, the wife ends up playing King Lear), but it is similar enough that one can see that if someone who had all of Holmes’ concerns about The Other Woman decided to write a similarly themed film, they’d end up with something like If I Were You. Smarter, funnier, more compelling, more moving, more plausible (yes, even the playing of King Lear). No one is a caricature. The woman are different and well motivated and emotionally complex and have fuller lives than just the man they are after. The “other woman” is dumber than the wife, but believably so, and sympathetically. And the man isn’t a ridiculous wax-moustachioed sexist villain. (He’s just a so-so guy who cheats on his wife.)

This got me to thinking. How often does this happen?

  1. Big, major blockbuster film gets made and earns tons of cash, despite being a total piece of crap (predominantly that means: badly written, full of eye-rolling cliches, stereotypes, and unforgivable implausibilities, and probably insulting to millions of people).
  2. Little, barely-seen-or-even-known film very similar to it had already been made years before, which is an artistic achievement, with great writing, acting, and direction, that is in every way better than its awful mutant blockbuster twin (fraternal twin, since we aren’t saying the films are identically plotted, just similarly themed enough that most of what’s special about the bad one is in the good one, so if you accidentally burned one of them the world would be a better place).
  3. And the money goes to the crap.

I had a similar experience when I learned about God’s Not Dead, the deeply offensive, absurdly written garbage pile that is now the shame of Kevin Sorbo (in this case, the review to read is by philosopher Dan Fincke: in summary and in detail). Watching the trailer to that (yes, actually in a theater, having never heard of it before) I kept thinking (between bouts of Jen and I busting into laughter), “Wait, I’ve seen this movie before, only it didn’t go in the bullshit direction this one clearly is.” That movie is Salvation Boulevard, starring Greg Kinnear, Pierce Brosna, Jennifer Connelly, Ed Harris, Marisa Tomei, and Ciarán Hinds (and directed by George Ratliff).

Miniature of movie poster for Salvation Boulevard, shows Pierce Brosnan above looking regal, Greg Kinear and Jennifer Connelly behind him smiling, and a giant bible below, standing upright, in which Greg Kinnear's character is being squeezed and suffocated.Again, Salvation Boulevard isn’t the exact same film. But it shares similar themes enough to be curious. For example, it centers around a debate over God’s existence between a caustic atheist professor and a Christian (in this case a big-money preacher), although this opens the film rather than serves as its climax. Likewise, the central character is a naive Christian struggling to deal with what’s going on through the course of the film, and comes to realizations and renewed confidence by the end. And there are several lesser themes loosely similar. But contrary to what God’s Not Dead does, which is deviate from every plausible reality and produce awful cliches and insulting caricatures (even of its heroes), Salvation Boulevard uses only a few and relatively minor reality-stretching plot points and even those it makes poignantly plausible, and then sends us on a ride that explores a world of religion and faith and loyalty and corruption much closer to reality.

It’s also funny.

(As you can tell from the trailer, but I say, don’t watch that, or read about the film, because  spoilers–just watch it not knowing what’s going to happen and let the plot twists surprise you.)

I think to “get” the game I have in mind, you have to at least read Holmes’ review of The Other Woman and watch the trailer to God’s Not Dead. Then puke. Then actually buy and watch If I Were You and Salvation Boulevard (both are available on Amazon instant video, as well as DVD; see links above). Then you’ll see what I mean. I’m not looking for movies that are exactly or even mostly the same, but that are enough the same that you can compare and contrast them fruitfully. Yet one is a major cash-earning pile of puke, and the other is a far lesser known masterpiece of good writing and acting. It’s a “Don’t watch that. Watch this.” kind of game.

How many movie-pairs like that can you come up with? This is something definitely worth crowdsourcing, because the lesser known movies by nature have been seen by too few people. You will have seen lots of those I haven’t. And so on. Maybe we can help reward actually good filmmakers who deserve to have their work seen and supported more, and send them a little royalty money, by boosting their signal just a touch.

So this is what I shall dub The Other Woman Game: bookmark this post, then post in comments (even if it is months or years from now) every time you think of a pair of movies that scores a hit according to the criteria set above, in the same way Salvation Boulevard pairs with God’s Not Dead and If I Were You with The Other Woman. That’s the challenge. Go!

Comments

  1. Brad says

    This sounds excellent, unfortunately all I can think of is watch the good trek/wars/matrix/indiana jones movies instead of the crap ones.

  2. says

    Hi Richard,

    I wouldn’t be caught dead watching a film like If I Were You any more than The Other Woman, but my tastes aside, I think your game idea is terrific. It’s tough to come up with “exact” contrasts, but here are a few I thought of.

    1. Underdog Sports

    Karate Kid (1984). My blood congeals whenever I think of this film, which in many ways defined the ’80s milieu in which I grew up. “Be whatever you want”, the sky’s the limit; the importance of the nuclear family; underdogs who can smack down bullies twice their size with ludicrous last-minute victories. (Films like Hoosiers and Rudy follow the same formula and are just as bad.) (1 star out of 5)

    Whip It! (2009). This is a rare and refreshing example of how to do an underdog sports film exactly right. First, it uses the edgy sport of roller derby, which I’d always associated with white trailer trash, which in some ways it is, but also tied to third-wave feminism. Second — perhaps most importantly — the underdog team is allowed to be true to form and, yes, lose in the end when it counts (Ellen Page’s amazing whip doesn’t work miracles like Ralph Macchio’s silly crane-kick, or Rudy’s quarterback sacking which got him triumphantly carried off the field). Third, it has the wisdom to not take itself too seriously. (Bonus for you, Richard: it also has Marcia Gay Harden, the mother who forces beauty pageants down her daughter’s throat. And for the record, I’ve had a hopeless crush on Ellen Page as you have for Gay Harden.) (4 stars out of 5)

    2. White Man Leads the “Other”

    Avatar (2010). I could use many films here — Dances with Wolves, The Last Samurai, etc. — but I’m going with Avatar, since I despise the work of James Cameron like no other, but also for the sci-fic context, which puts new color on the colonial theme. But make no mistake, it’s the same tired formula of a white man stumbling into a culture of “noble but benighted” primitives, and who then unites with them against his fellow colonials, while also making sure to save them from themselves. On top of that, the film is completely bereft of narrative innovation. (1 star out of 5)

    District 9 (2009). Premised on lobster-like aliens who hunker down in South African ghettos, and subject to the apartheid system that was abolished back in 1994. But when the white hero turns on his employer and begins to fight alongside the aliens, he does so remarkably out of self-interest, not altruism. He’s despicable in many ways, which makes him so believable. District 9 is an action-packed sci-fic thriller than tackles racism/colonialism head on, but in a very different way from Avatar, through a gritty lens that doesn’t allow us fantasy images of ourselves. (3 ½ stars out of 5)

    3. Torture

    Hostel (2005). As slasher films go, you can do worse by character development. But it’s ultimately torture porn and, most problematically, depends on a third-act redemption which turns the tables on the baddies in a preposterously unbelievable way. (1 star out of 5)

    Martyrs (2008). In this case, the torture doesn’t encourage us to want more, or “fuel our blood lust” even as it horrifies. Just the opposite, it puts us through a horrendous ordeal and makes us completely on the side of the victim. It’s an intelligently crafted horror piece that explores the whacky idea of “transfiguration” through pain. (4 stars out of 5)

    4. Political Post-9/11

    Rendition (2007). It appropriately calls out rendition torture, but with a hollow plot and cheesy script that seems desinged for no other purpose than to pound the audience with screeds. It’s possibly one of the worst films I’ve ever seen — an exhibit-A for the cardinal sin of subordinating cinematic art to sermonizing. (1 star out of 5)

    Zero Dark Thirty (2012). Contra criticisms, it’s no apology for the use of rendition torture, and it never pats Americans on the back in spite of the various triumphs tin the hunt for Bin Laden. It actually makes us complicit in all the moral ambiguities involved. This is Kathryn Bigelow’s best film to date — finer, more mature, and even more disciplined than The Hurt Locker for which she won an award. (5 stars out of 5)

    5. Jesus

    The Last Temptation of Christ (1988). The only good thing about this film is the scoring done by Peter Gabriel (one of the most talented musicians of all time). But the film on whole is a laughable spin on the gospel story, portraying a sentimental Jesus in the midst of a “cultural” mileu that represents nothing close to that of the first century, which is what it largely aims for. (1 star out of 5)

    The Passion of the Christ (2004). For all the controversy, it’s no more anti-Semitic than the gospels themselves, even less so than Matthew and John. In some ways, it even goes against the anti-Semitism of the medieval source material of Catherine Emmerich. For what it attempts — a medieval mythologizing of the passion — it does quite well. (3 ½ stars out of 5)

    (Note: I choose the above gospel-movie contrasts deliberately, because Martin Scorsese is a genius and one of my favorite film directors; but he was truly clueless on this subject. Mel Gibson is an asshole, but a decent enough director when he applies himself, and his Passion achievement has been unfortunately obscured under misrperesentations and non-sequiturs.)

    6. Light-hearted family comedy evoking social issues

    Little Miss Sunshine (2006): This film represents everything I hate about these kind of comedies: characters who make me want to smash the screen every time they open their mouths (or in the case of one, who refuses to open his mouth for a pretentiously philosophical vow of silence). It’s widely loved, but there’s too much cliche and idiotic cuteness for its own good. (1 star out of 5)

    Juno (2007). Sorry to use an Ellen Page film twice on this list, but Juno gets everything right in the kind of film I normally can’t stand. I feel compelled to list it, especially by contrasting it with Little Miss Sunshine with which it is often uncritically tied. The characters are all endearing — even a stepmother, who for once isn’t villified. It’s also genius for fooling the pro-life crowd into thinking it endorses their agenda. Even if you know nothing about scriptwriter Diablo Cody (a pro-choice feminist) and of course Ellen Page herself, the film establishes a girl’s choice to have her baby without glorifying teen pregnancy, and that she would be supported by her friends and family regardless of her choice. It takes choice for granted, assumes hard-won rights, and doesn’t need to preach. Above all, it’s honest in its simplicity. (5 stars out of 5)

    Some of these pairs are more “exact” than others, but I think this is what you essentially had in mind, yes?

  3. Uncle Ebeneezer says

    Fun game idea. It will take me a while to come up with any good nominations for your game (my movie knowledge is very scattered and there’s loads of biggies that I’ve never seen), but since you mention the Bechdel Test: I was only recently made aware of the concept (I think by one of Anita Sarkeesian’s YT videos on the portrayal of women in media) and it sure is an eye-opener now that I see just how lame most tv/films are in presenting women only as eye-candy for males. On the flip side, if you haven’t seen it yet, you should check out The Bletchley Circle on PBS. It’s a wonderful series about British women who cracked German codes during WW2 and are now using their talents to solve local crimes. The female characters are extremely smart, self-assured and complex. And as with most PBS/Brtittish shows the scenery, sets and costumes are also great.

  4. azryan says

    I can appreciate your intentions, and I’ll try to think of some good examples, myself. There are a TON of ‘twin’ films, but nearly all of those are big studios ripping each other off -Volcano/Dante’s Peak and Armageddon/Deep Impact… or little studios, Asylum-style junk like Transmorphers and Atlantic Rim cashing in on Transformers and Pacific Rim.

    I just wanted to point out quick that the two movies you noted to rent or buy got 21% and 9% on Rotten Tomatoes. Awful results for what you’re calling the ‘masterpiece’ side of your equation.

    Note that RT also gives the two films on the ‘awful’ side of your equation the equally rotten -yet, ironically, slightly better- 25% and 13%.

    Maybe mention at least that the consensus opinion is that yours is way off the mark? Or maybe address why somehow no one else ‘gets’ how great they really are?

    I say this ‘cuz I also thought that I’d love Agora -a film you also highly recommended. But Agora was boring as hell. I’d never watch it again or recommend it to anyone -and I love the subject matter. It also got a ‘rotten’, though borderline, 53% on RT.

    Honestly great low budget/foreign/limited release/indie flicks (‘crap’ to most people) actually DO manage to get great reviews from film critics, and thereby, a solid rating on RT or the like.
    I sometimes disagree with the RT rating of a film, but usually the quotes on the same page are very accurate IMO.

    • says

      If you follow lowest common denominator reviews and find an excellent film like Agora boring, then yeah, you are more into Mcdonalds hamburger than beef Wellington. My aesthetic recommendations won’t be of interest to you.

    • says

      Besides, who cares what Rotten Tomatoes thinks! I’m more interested in an intelligent recommendation from someone I know and respect than anonymous crowd sourced recommendations. And Agora was terrific! So there!

      Rich

    • azryan says

      Just saw “If I Were You”. Sorry, but it was as bad as the critical consensus rated it. Chalk another one up for the science behind targeted crowd-sourcing.

      Rich, apparently you don’t know that Rotten Tomatoes is NOT anonymous and the ‘crowd’ being sourced are professional film critics from all over the country on one half and the public consensus on the other. Like I said, I don’t agree with either consensus all of the time, but I’ve found the critical view is far more accurate than the public, and that it’s a very safe bet that a film really does suck if essentially zero critics can see much of any value in it.

      It’s also so well established as being better than any one random critical review that you now can regularly see ‘rated fresh’ on any film that manages to meet the 60%+ mark. Dismiss all that at the sake of your own self-denial.

      And it’s a lame cheap shot to say my taste is ‘hamburger’, Richard. I can’t believe this is how you actually are? Sense and Goodness is such a great book, but I can’t even see that same person in how you post to anyone who disagrees with you. We actually like a lot of the same stuff (based on what you’ve noted online). It all mostly gets critically positive reviews for good reasons, too -whether you care or not.

      Can someone not Siskel your Ebert (so-to-speak) without you getting SO bent out of shape?

      This film failed in every way, and I’m just the next of many to make the same observations. Richard, you also said it meets the Bedchel test pretty well. It absolutely doesn’t. It’s literally a fantastic example of a total Bedchel failure. I don’t get how you couldn’t see that?

      The attempts at mild comedy and/or drama totally fall flat. The ad pitch/breakdown scene shows that well. The ridiculous acting/directing of everyone involved with the play, who isn’t Marcia Gay Harden, is just pathetic. And that just spotlights that she’s actually the only actor in the movie itself (A. Quinn cameo excepted).

      Most of this would be clunky for a network level sit-com. In a feature dramedy it’s inexcusable. All the drama is due to the utter feebleness of the two female leads. It’s an insult to feminists. Pretty much all the other women in this are pathetic, too.

      The only saving grace is that the final act is saved by Shakespeare literally taking over for the woman who wrote and directed this drivel. Further evidence that this woman is lousy at her job is to look up her other films on IMDB/Metacritic/RottenTomatoes. She’s just crap at making movies -full stop.

      Richard rightfully notes Aiden Quinn’s great, but it’s a tiny role, following a groaningly convenient thread. Marcia Gay Harden does her best to elevate a simple, women-are-idiots, Lifetime Movie script until she can take on Queen Lear (and I have to assume the only reason she made this bad film), but she’s largely defeated by external forces. I’m pretty sure I even noticed her steer lines that were meant to be punchlines, but she knew they sucked so she intentionally didn’t ‘hit’ them.

      She’s great in the Lear role, but that and a few other small flashes add up to about 5-10 minutes of excellent film in an otherwise incompetent slog.

      I’d easily recommend ‘Addicted to Love’ and (though another Bedchel failure) ‘French Kiss’ over this for a very similar sort of premise. Both starring Meg Ryan is just coincidental. The very recent ‘Enough Said’ with Julia L-Dreyfus and James Gandofini is also along these same lines and easily a better film -though personally I didn’t like it that much.
      None of those are following Richard’s idea of hidden gems vs. big budget crap, but oh well. Doubt anyone’s reading this anyway.

    • says

      Obviously your feelings were hurt. That’s typically the response that comes from someone whose aesthetic appreciation of the world is shallow, and are called out on it. You are just trying to defend your shallow aesthetics here. By simply reasserting it.

    • azryan says

      Richard, I really think you’re creating a bubble where only the mildest of dissent can slip through the few yes-men that routinely post here now. I greatly admire much of your work. I’m just not a sycophant.

      The next most important point is that this film utterly fails the Bedchel Test that you claimed it ‘passed it well’. That’s just not even in the realm of the subjective. Even many critics, without knowing that term like you and I do, managed to point out this exact obvious failure in writing women as nothing more than hapless idiots, childishly scheming over an undeserving man. It doesn’t even bother resolving the plot.

      As for the rest. Yes, my feelings were hurt. Your insults intended to hurt them. But that’s ok. It was an honest review, though. You just made me unconcerned with pulling any punches in telling you how badly flawed the film was. I try (best I can) to consciously follow Sam Harris’s theory on lying -“it just isn’t worth it” to paraphrase.

      Like I wrote, we like a LOT of the same TV/Movies -which would then also make your taste at least ‘largely ‘hamburger’ and ‘aesthetically shallow’ to use your own cheaply dismissive, uninformed barbs.

      West Wing is #2 on my LONG list of best dramas. Six Feet Under is #3. I know you don’t object to those (though the ranking is easily debatable).
      My favorite film is ‘A Very Long Engagement’ (that or ‘Goodfellas’). You’re a fan of ‘Amelie’, so if you haven’t seen Jeunet’s masterpiece, you’re missing out. Trashing my taste in general over a tiny handful of specific examples of disagreement just makes you look small.

      I watch stuff from the entire history of film/television from around the world searching for the best of what exists. Since the millennium and digital tv, IMO TV’s largely been kicking cinema’s ass. I bet my garbage taste could point you to a bunch of stuff you’d really like. ‘Borgen’ is excellent for a fan of West Wing -but I ‘think’ you’ve seen it yourself, though. Lots of British series, some odd, but creative Japanese shows. Masterchef US is filled with everything rotten about reality tv, but Masterchef Australia is a shining example of the very best of humanity -yet both ‘seem’ almost perfectly identical to those who are too shallow to see the difference.

      I gave this film a fair shot. It really was bad. I tried to be specific (without spoilers), and noted the very little that was actual good -which were ALL points you yourself noted as standing out.

      The fault is almost entirely on the writer/director. Why don’t you try her other films if you’re certain that this one was a masterpiece? They ALL got panned. I haven’t seen them, but it should be in your interest to try another one and see if she’s really an unsung genius with more gems to discover.
      Or maybe you find that this film was a ‘fluke’. OR… that she really does suck and you actually reconsider how objective you were on this one.

      Calling the consensus of film critics’ reviews on Rotten Tomatoes the ‘lowest common denominator’ doesn’t even make sense mathematically or in how the concept is even designed.

      Note -a low R.T. rating on its own doesn’t mean the film was ‘horrible’. It just means that almost all critics who saw it (weighted to the U.S., but also from anywhere on Earth) found it AT LEAST flawed to the point that it just wasn’t passable enough to be ‘good’. But it’s extremely rare that a film gets a dirt low rating without being awful, because it’s so rare that everyone agrees like that. Film critics LIVE to find those hidden gems.

      ‘Starbuck’ was a good, not great relatively unseen film. Cheap, but with heart and a clever idea. Remade only about a year later by H’Wood as ‘Delivery Man’. Critics liked the former, and panned the latter -because they friggin’ get the difference. So this still doesn’t fit your idea.

      A lot of B-list actors make these sort of direct-to-video type movies like ‘If I Were You’. Some are decent. VERY few are very good. None are masterpieces or they would get a wide release, award nominations, etc.
      H’wood isn’t looking to throw away money. That’s how stuff like ‘Juno’ or ‘Sideways’ get out there. Those don’t make much money, but they do make money and get into theaters. I personally think they were both ok, but over-rated. But no one can say they were ignored or haven’t gotten great reviews by the people who care the most about cinema.

      That’s why I didn’t think your original idea would pan out.

      Have you seen ‘Hard Candy’ with Ellen Page? I bet you’d like it. She’s excellent in it and is more believable there than in Juno where her unrealistically sharp tongue doesn’t quite fit her actions IMO. The subject matter kept it from being a wide release so I’ve never met anyone who’s ever seen it. But plenty of film critics have and they give it a collective 68%. I gave it a 7 which is essentially identical. The little of the public who did see it gave it a 78%, but I still ignore that number because the public largely doesn’t have nearly as much depth of insight about films and people who choose to work as film critics and understand all the factors involved.

      And the public consensus STILL isn’t even what what you could call the ‘lowest common denominator’. That term only makes sense as referring to the lazy, disposable, popcorn crap WE BOTH AGREE sucks.

      I hope one of these posts will eventually ‘reset’ the line that doesn’t need to be between us.

    • azryan says

      Man, you’ve REALLY got a wall up! I was trying to gets points through that you kept ignoring on any substantive level with repeated flippant, insulting dismissals.

      It shouldn’t ‘ve reasonably gone that way, but you weren’t fair or reasonable.

      I wasn’t writing because I was upset. You’re deluding yourself to think otherwise. Even my repeated compliments to you on both your work and opinions of TV/Movies don’t apparently even register even a HINT of good will or a rethink of your attitude.

      Seriously, not one god damn point got through to you?? Fine. Congrats. Keep pushing out anyone who isn’t a sycophant.

      You’ll do as you please, but you shouldn’t mention the Bedchel Test again, because you don’t understand how to apply it after watching an utter failure of it.

      I see you thought ‘Red Tails’ was great, too. Yeah… you have excellent taste and critics just stupidly couldn’t see it yet again. You should see ‘Tuskegee Airmen’. Not great, but a much better film. And, yes, it counts as a film despite being made for television. You seemed confused about that issue for some reason.

    • says

      I see you thought ‘Red Tails’ was great, too.

      Actually, I panned it (e.g. “George Lucas is kind of a shit writer”). It was so-so, and had many artistic faults. It could have been worse. But that’s not saying much these days.

      You aren’t very sharp at getting your facts straight.

    • azryan says

      This is honestly like arguing with a fundie. I can hardly believe you’re really like this.

      Your VERY FIRST line from that link (which I already read before I last posted) says, “-Lucas’s new film is good, but not excellent.”

      And STILL you had the gall to say you ‘panned it’ AND that I’m not ‘sharp enough’ to get the facts straight??

      Do you REALLY not understand that ‘great’ sits directly between ‘good’ and ‘excellent’?? And ‘panned’ is at the very OPPOSITE end of that scale??

      Another example, “-still, there were really only three or four scenes that were that bad. The rest was at least decent,-”

      At BEST, you could’ve claimed I ‘slightly exaggerated your view’ -‘cuz I DID. I was being mildly sarcastic ‘cuz you called another crap film ‘good’ in several different ways.

      So now you’ve both failed to understand or apply the ‘Bedchel Test’, AND you don’t actually know what it means to ‘pan’ a film. But it’s clear that there just isn’t any way that you can be wrong about any of this, so I’ll bow out now. I’m sure you’re cheering your decisive win. Enjoy.

    • says

      Try actually reading the whole review.

      Basic responsibility demands as much in this case.

      (Meanwhile, I don’t fathom what you mean about the Bechdel test…which you misspelled)

    • azryan says

      Sorry, one last quick point and I’m gone.

      “e.g. George Lucas is kind of a shit writer”

      You only example here of how you ‘panned’ Red Tails is nonsense.

      First, Lucas didn’t write Red Tails.
      Second, your phrasing is a weaselly generalization, even if he had.
      Third, Lucas is a completely incompetent writer, so ‘kind of shit’ is even far too generous.

    • says

      You evidently didn’t read my review. Lucas revealed he was the actual writer on a television interview. And there were many other things I said about the movie negatively (e.g. bad direction, bad special effects). But I assumed you would know that, because, golly me, I assumed you would have read it and thus knew what you were talking about. Evidently you didn’t, and thus don’t.

      (Also, BTW, because of that, you evidently didn’t know I “Other Womaned” Red Tails in that review by concluding with the better movie to watch instead of it.)

    • AZryan says

      (note -the caps are ‘highlights’ not ‘yelling’).

      Well, I’ll admit straight-off, I was wrong about leaving. But you just keep writing total nonsense that doesn’t deserve to be left unchallenged.

      Obviously, my accidental transposing of the ‘c’ and ‘d’ in ‘Bechdel’ is COMPLETELY IRRELEVANT to the point in question. That was such a strangely childish deflection for you. The ‘test’ was Liz Wallace’s idea, anyway -not that you actually care about either woman’s name.

      The real issue IS STILL that “If I Were You” is a PERFECT EXAMPLE of a TOTAL FAILURE of this Feminist ‘test’. You could write a far worse film (‘The Other Woman’ probably), but you couldn’t write one that fails this ‘test’ any more completely.

      And I DID read your whole Red Tails review. Probably one of only a handful of people who did, so give me some credit.

      Lucas is a well-documented rip-off artist and serial liar about his own career/movies.
      John Ridley wrote the screenplay for Red Tails and Aaron McGruder did later re-writes to it.

      AT BEST, Lucas wrote some crap in a notebook and gave it to these guys who actually wrote the final work (VERY typical of him). If anything specific in the film is actually his, YOU HAVE NO IDEA what that is. And neither do I. But the evidence available is clear enough to say that your claim of, ‘he wrote it’ is ALMOST CERTAINLY false.

      How does a guy who writes a book about Bayes’ Theorem fail so badly to APPLY IT right here where it proves so eminently useful!?

      As I already wrote… the fact that you CONTRADICT YOUR OWN OPENING LINE later in the Red Tails review isn’t a legitimate loophole for you to pull. It’s disappointing that this is what you resort to, and should make everyone question how you argue anything. That’s honestly a real shame.

      You also said you HADN’T SEEN the earlier ‘Tuskegee Airmen’ film, so that rightfully holds ZERO weight in your having ‘recommended it as the better film to see’. That’s so disingenuous, and you HAVE to know that.

    • says

      Ah, the all caps.

      And the defensive egotistical rant.

      Speculations treated as evidence.

      The absence of any examples proving the key point, which is then asserted with absolute certainty.

      Irrelevant points, shouted.

      Someone should build a bingo card for this sort of thing.

  5. Kingasaurus says

    I’m not one of them, but there seem to be quite a few people who think “Dark City” does everything “The Matrix” tries to do, but more successfully.

    • says

      I can’t agree with that one. Dark City is okay. But it suffers some directorial and editing fails. And the writing is uneven. What I remember most about the movie was constantly realizing I could have written better what was going on in this or that scene, and I’m not a screenwriter. Screenwriters are supposed to have skills I don’t. So if I’m writing a better movie in my head, that’s a fail.

  6. says

    I think Richard has the right idea. It’s nice to plug the indie and more obscure films whenever possible, and take down the “MacDonalds” cash cows when they deserve it. It doesn’t always work out that way (Tarantino’s box-office successes are richly deserved, for instance), but sadly, the masses for the most part have deplorable taste.

    Here are a few other examples I came up with:

    Vampire Youth Romance: Twilight (2008) is the obvious garbage. Let the Right One In (2008) — the Swedish version, that is — the work of art.

    Superhero Satire: Kick-Ass (2010) had a good idea but wasn’t nearly as transgressive as it pretended to be. Super (2010) (with Ellen Page, sorry for my obsession) that same year did everything Kick-Ass should have done – but got far less attention.

    Lifelong Romance: The Notebook (2004) is the sappy melodramatic soap-opera everyone loved. Blue Valentine (2010), which also starred Ryan Gosling, took the same framework and did something far truer to life, and with some of the best acting I’ve seen in any romance.

    I blogged my my full list here.

    • says

      The only of those I’ve seen both of is the vampire pairing, and I very much concur. Even the American remake (Let Me In) of the Swedish film is vastly better than Twilight or almost any “relationship with a vampire” movie I can think of.

  7. says

    Hi Richard,

    Watched Salvation Boulevard on the weekend. Great movie! And quite funny. Jennifer Connolly, Greg Kinnear, and Ed Harris are very good. Actually, it’s too bad Harris doesn’t feature more in the movie.

    Here are my proposals:

    Green Card and “Les noces de papier” (Paper Wedding). They both came out about the same time in 1990, the first an American movie and the second one a French Canadian made-for-TV movie (starring Geneviève Bujold). Pretty much the exact same script, but it’s the second one that has the “Hollywood” ending. I would say I preferred Les noces de papier, because it was better overall, and the actors were in the background, rather than Gérard Depardieu acting like a stereotypical Frenchman. In the French Canadian version, the immigrant is also a refugee from Latin America, which adds considerably to the pathos, turning it into a drama instea of a romantic comedy.

    Somersby and “Le retour de Martin Guerre.” Martin Guerre starred Gérard Depardieu, who was absolutely superb. It’s based on a true story set in 16th century France, when a soldier returns home and resumes his life, but no one recognizes him. I never watched Somersby, but I hear it ends with a ridiculous fight in a burning house, whereas Martin Guerre ends with a hanging. I won’t tell you who hangs.

    Roxane and “Cyrano”, both takes on Cyrano de Bergerac. The first is of course American and stars Steve Martin and Daryl Hannah, quite pedestrian. The second is French and is a period piece, completely in the original verse composed by Edmond de Rostand, also starring Gérard Depardieu, and it’s nothing short of a masterpiece!

    For some reason, these three pairs all included Gérard Depardieu, who before he became a fat, dumb, and very confused Russian citizen, was a superb actor!

    Rich

  8. Carl Lang says

    Theme: White men come into contact with Native Americans

    Films: The blockbuster “Dances With Wolves”.
    The much better minor movie: “Black Robe”.

    Don’t get me wrong: I like “Dances With Wolves”. I think it is an entertaining movie despite its length and “slowness” and it creates a great atmosphere. But it’s also incredibly black and white with extremely stereotypical characters and an all too convenient plotline.

    “Black Robe” is a truly philosophical film about religion and the problems that go along with any “clash of civilizations”. It too is very entertaining, very atmospheric, even funny at times, and the characters are just as believable as the plotline. It is a true masterpiece. It also is a film very much suited for any atheist with an interest in philosophy :).

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