04 May Know-nothings
What do critics know?
I was a rock critic for years, and I always knew my opinion was just one crabby personâ€™s opinion â€“ nothing more, nothing less. Yeah, sure, I felt like I knew more than a lot of other people about rock and roll, and that gave me the right to spout off about my good taste.
But really, I knew I wasnâ€™t gonna change anyoneâ€™s mind about a group they hated or liked. I figured the best I could do was to introduce new and little-known groups or artists or genres to people who hadnâ€™t heard them before, and hopefully theyâ€™d like them as much as I did.
Ultimately, reading the opinions of other music critics got tedious. I mean, I didnâ€™t give a hoot about my own opinions, much less other writersâ€™.
I still read food critics, because Iâ€™m always on the lookout for new and interesting places to chow down. But Iâ€™ve just about stopped reading movie critics altogether.
No offense to the Postâ€™s fine crits, Lisa Kennedy and Michael Booth, but time and time again, Iâ€™ve found that I just hate â€“ make that HATE â€“ some of the movies that critics gush over the most.
Last night I was perplexed after finally watching David Lynchâ€™s â€œMulholland Driveï¿½? on DVD and finding it shallow, stupid and irritatingly obtuse.
In fact, now that I think about it, it was like the second, and third seasons of Lynchâ€™s landmark TV series, â€œTwin Peaksï¿½? (and, for that matter, the horrible, shallow, stupid and irritatingly obtuse â€œTwin Peaksï¿½? movie that followed the demise of the series, which started out wonderfully in its first season). Lynch has his moments, but he really just likes to yank the viewerâ€™s chain and leave us all scratching our heads, too embarrassed to admit we have no idea what the hellâ€™s going on.
Well, I ainâ€™t too embarrassed. At the risk of seeming dumb, or worse, a latter-day version of the â€˜80s darling of the movie-going public, Joe Bob Briggs (a redneck version of a snooty, pretentious movie critic pretending to be funny), Iâ€™d like to speak up on behalf of us normal folks who like to watch art films form time to time but also donâ€™t mind couching it for a night of blood and gore from such populist trash as â€œBlade: Trinity.ï¿½?
The last time I was this irritated by a critical â€œhitï¿½? was about the time â€œMulholland Driveï¿½? first came out on DVD a couple of years ago, over the somewhat similarly-paced and equally pretentious indie whodunit, â€œMemento.ï¿½?
That one was worse, because the payoff at the end of the movie was so cheesy and low-rent for the agony the film put viewers through for two hours.
Gimme Hollywood entertainment anytime over such snobbish artistic hoo-haw. Gimme â€œStar Wars.ï¿½? â€œMatrixï¿½? (well, OK, the first â€œMatrix,ï¿½? at least). Definitely the entire â€œLord of the Ringsï¿½? trilogy. Anything Jet Li â€“ Hong Kong or Hollywood donâ€™t matter. John Wooâ€™s ballet-like choreographed violence. Most of Clint Eastwoodâ€™s oeuvre (howâ€™s that for an artsy fartsy word to describe â€œDirty Harryï¿½? et al?). Gimme “Kill Bill,” “Pulp Fiction” and “Reservoir Dogs” — or anything Tarantino, cuz he has a bubbly sense of humor where David Lynch is flat as a pancake.
Hell, Iâ€™d even prefer the â€œLethal Weaponï¿½? series, or â€“ gulp â€“ â€œDie Hard.ï¿½?
Other recent hits: â€œGarden State,” a small, non-Hollywood but very sweet movie, and the first two seasons of â€œSix Feet Under,” a vast improvement in interestingness over the stilted and non-evolving â€œSopranos” seasons.
You know what was a surprisingly good movie? “Maid in Manhattan.” And “Harold and Kumar Go to White Castle” isn’t just for teenaged potheads. The humor might be puerile but the story’s pretty good and for me, it’s important that two Asian Americans got to star in a mainstream Hollywood flick without having to play martial arts masters or geeks (OK, so one is a geek, but he’s a hapless one). Plus, it’s just a relief to see an Asian American who’s a slacker.
More titles to comeâ€¦