Sunday, February 24, 2008

Sunday papers

I probably should have known better. I’ve pretty successfully avoided the T-D’s movie reviews over the past year or so after I finally realized that they had little or no critical or literary value and it was just as easy to read any of a half-dozen better critics online (including the best “quick hit” reviews from Jerry Williams). But this morning’s Flair cover on the Oscars hooked me in and I was once again subjected to the lame-itude that is Neman.

I could have brushed off the idiotic repeated “joke” about awards not going to flops. I would have chalked up the internal inconsistency to typical sloppiness or maybe laziness (Neman chides the Academy for forgetting Tommy Lee Jones in “The Valley of Elah” while saying no one liked “There Will Be Blood.” “Blood” which is still in theaters hasn’t exactly been a blockbuster but it’s current box office take stands at about 5 times what “Elah” made in its entire run).

But harder for me to shrug off is his derision for David Denby at the New Yorker. I don’t necessarily think Denby is some ultimate critic or anything but he’s head and shoulders above Mr. Neman. Among the many great things in Denby’s latest piece – a survey of the Coen Brothers films – is that it sums up exactly what is wrong with “No Country for Old Men,” in my opinion. I love the Coens but I’m with Denby in thinking “No Country” doesn’t quite match their previous best (unlike Denby, I love “O Brother Where Art Thou” and “Miller’s Crossing.”)

Neman also says that Amy Ryan should win best supporting actress for "Gone Baby Gone" – which may be true; I can’t really say since I haven’t seen the movie. “GBG” is the last movie I remember Neman actually liking (he said it “turns out to be well-crafted and compelling, brutal but not unfunny”) but at last reckoning, it only made about $20 million at the box office versus “Blood”’s $33 million and counting. Should people be looking at Neman a bit oddly these days? Why no “awards not going to flops” line here? Oh yeah, there’s that consistency thing again.

So if it’s not too late, I’d suggest skipping the Oscar cover stories and flipping right to the interview with the “Doubt” cast. While I wish Keri Wormald would have been included in the convo, it’s still an interesting piece.

And for those who had hopes of snagging “Idol” cast-off Colton Berry for a local production (OK, so maybe that was just me…), it looks like he has his sights set for bigger venues. Oh well; maybe that’s not such a bad thing.

13 comments:

Frank Creasy said...

Dave, I did see the piece in this morning's paper about the Oscars, but honestly gave it a quick glance and moved on to other features.

I'll give Dan Neman credit for one thing: He says EXACTLY what he thinks and doesn't give a rip if you like it or not. So, he scores in the Big Cajones department.

But as a critic? Well, there's a lot a garbage churned out these days, for sure. Few movies draw me in to the cinema on the weekends I'm not at the theatre. But I see a pretty huge disconnect between not only what sells and is popular, but also amongst the more discerning opinions about today's movie scene versus Mr. Neman's take on the same matter. I didn't see "There Will Be Blood", but I'm personally a big fan of Daniel Day-Lewis. The man is a modern legend, a consummate professional. If he doesn't take home another Oscar tonight, it will be a surprise. And I remember reading Mr. Neman's review, in which he absolutely EVISCERATED Daniel Day-Lewis' performance. Of course, I immediately thought to myself "Oscar nod" when I heard the buzz going around about this movie.

One thing's for sure, though: If Dan Neman is even cutting down some movies playing at the Westhampton, somebody needs to cut back on their Grumpy pills!

Frank Creasy said...

One more thing Dave: Whether it was intentional or not, Andrew Hamm and I greatly appreciate the Joe Jackson reference with your heading "Sunday Papers."

"There's no questions, there's no lies!"

Dave T said...

As I've commented to Mr. Hamm on his blog, my J. Jackson love peaked with "Look Sharp!" so yes indeed it was intentional. "Right...that's enough."

Jennifer Frank said...

Also in today's paper was a request from Lee Barnes for feedback on The Flair Section, in general. Dave, you'll see this on preview, so if you don't think it's appropriate to publish the contact info here, that's fine, but I'm now copying it from the paper:

Lbarnes@timesdispatch.com
804-775-8129
Lee Barnes, Newsroom
RTD
PO Box 85333
R, VA 23293-0001

Here is a chance to express opinions about the elimination of the Arts section, and the watered down version of that coverage subsumed into the Flair section. And the theatre reviews next to the Obits.

Like voting, one can't complain if one doesn't weigh in.

blogva said...

Dave, I can't believe you are sucked into the Oscars! They are merely Hollywood propaganda and not worthy of your valuable time.
Please note that there is no criteria set forth for what makes a Best Picture or Best Actress or any other category. Without criteriathere is no standard so it is all opinion and that opinion is influenced by marketing and "who you know".
It is my understanding that until recently the members of the Academy were not required to see all of the films (in fact I don't think they are required to see all of all of the films just snippets). Academy members are dues paying former winners and not necessarily qualified judges.

The Oscars is one big happy "get us more press and money" event and have nothing to do with real talent or value. The show itself is a commercial time sucker that can be reviwed in mere moments without commercials the next morning online or in just about any daily publication.

Being a working mom who has a husband who travels a great deal, I hardly have time to see films anyway making the Oscars even less important.
The most important thing about the Oscars this year is the lack of fashion faux-pas on the red carpet. There were only one or two total disasters ie Daniel Day Lewis and his date and Nicole Kidman. I got that info this am. I found a better use for my time last night and watched the ending of the best production of "Pride and Prejudice" EVER with Jennifer Ehle and Colin Firth on PBS.

Angelika HausFrauSki said...

I'm far too passionate about film to get into a blog-versation about it, but I must add in response to Mary:

While Daniel Day-Lewis was kind of a fashion disaster last night (and Nicole Kidman looked like she ran into a Christmas display at Saks)...Mr. Day-Lewis could wear a tutu and combat boots and still look incredible to me. I think he might honestly be one of the most irresistibly attractive men alive, as far as my standards are concerned. :) This is, of course, only helped by the fact that he is re-DONK-ulously talented.

Dave T said...

I'm curious -- because I don't know and I expect someone out there does (Mary?) -- whether there are criteria for Tony winners and, if so, what they are.

Andrew Hamm said...

A little bastardized Joe Jackson for your morning:

"Dave T's headed that way now I guess
He just read something made his face turn blue
Well I got nothing against the press
Dan Neman wouldn't print it if it wasn't true."

I'm kind of with Mary here. I hate all award shows. I'm just not down with a perspective of awarding one person's art as being somehow "superior" to another's. I also resent the cult of celebrity in general. Can we please spend that monsy on something that helps people rather than self-aggrandizement? If I was nominated for an Oscar or a Tony I would very seriously probably not attend.

Thespis' Little Helper said...

Criteria for Tony winners?

WARNING: Totally uninformative and just grrr comment forthcoming:

If Marissa Jaret Winokour (original Tracy in Hairspray) beats out Bernadette Peters as MAMA ROSE in Gypsy, do they really seem to be completely legit?

(Ponders.) Hmmm...

There are the criteria about being in the opening night cast to be considered, having above the title billing to be in the Leading performer category, etc. (exceptions are available for each, considered on an individual basis by the committee). Maybe Playbill.com did an article...I'll hunt...

There's actually the really long...well...not that long, considering [36 pages]...document that details the rules and regulations for the Tony's at http://www.tonyawards.com/en_US/about/TonyRules2006-2007Rules.pdf.

But out of the approximate 750 voters, do all of them see every show? (or twice if the actor nominated has an understudy in?)

I would lean towards saying that the Tony's fall prey to the same BS factor that Mary attributes to the Oscars. Alas...theatre and prostitution...ooh...which reminds me...great opening line to Elaine Stritch's one-woman show, Elaine Strich At Liberty: "It's like the prostitute once said: It's not the work. It's the stares."

You have now had your sufficient dose of musical theatre queen for the day...maybe the month! ;)

Dave T said...

BC -- Thanks for the link to the Tony Award regs. I'll definitely review them sometime -- maybe before the next awards show.

Ms. Frank -- thanks for the info. I'd encourage everyone to express your opinion to those who might actually be able to respond. I'll be sending in some well-measured words.

Also, I'll just throw in that I watch the Oscars every year if I can. They may not be perfect but I just love 'em. Even liked them when David Letterman hosted. Also, can't really abide by the "it's who you know" contention, Mary. The four acting winners this year were hardly what you'd call Hollywood insiders, with few people having a clue who three out of the four even were (though the phrase "White Witch" got a couple people in my house remembering Ms. Swinton). And the Coens -- also not exactly glad-handing media whores. "...nothing to do with talent or value"? I think someone put grumpy juice in your coffee this morning, Ms. B.

Robinitaface said...

I'm intrigued to hear Mary's "real talent or value" take on the Oscars, while she has also made claims that the bigger and shinier theatre spaces are the "better" ones.

And Mary, I think you've had your fair share of questions on your qualifications on opinion-sharing...I know they've been addressed - but just to be fair.

I agree that I don't need a 4+ hour broadcast, but there is still something fun about it. It's the "moment watching." Like the Most Excited Non-winner award should go to Cate Blanchett for her reaction to Marion Cotillard's win. And Forest Whitaker gently holding her up as she trembled off-stage after saying, "there are truly angels in this city." Or Diablo Cody thanking her family for loving her just the way she is. Or Glen Hansard ending his speech with, "Make art."

I hadn't seen any of the films either. Sometimes it's just nice to sit and watch people look pretty and be happy.

Angelika HausFrauSki said...

I think whenever Oscar strays too far from rewarding talent and too deep into the self-congratulatory, "Welcome to the A-List! Here's an Oscar!" territory, they rein themselves back in after a spell.

I feel that a lot of really excellent films got due attention this year...I hadn't seen all of them, but I'd seen several, and I felt every award given was deserved.

I also kind of got a kick out of the fact that the four big acting awards went to two Brits, a Franco and a Spaniard. Definitely not Hollywood insiders, any of them.

By and large, the evening atoned for me the damage that was done last year when I heard these 7 words: "And the Oscar goes to Jennifer Hudson."

*shudder*


I understand Andrew's point about not wanting to rank arts, but I also totally agree with Robin that sometimes it's just fun to watch pretty people be happy. And there are always at least one or two touching moments of raw humanity at these things. AND all the pretty dresses!!! :)

Andrew Hamm said...

*shudder again*