Friday, February 02, 2007

Good-bye, January! Hello…More January.

Movie Reviews at This Week:
Because I Said So
Blood and Chocolate
Smokin’ Aces

This last week of January was mercifully quiet on the screening front. In fact, we only had two—and they were both on the same day. Tuesday. In the morning, I drove out to the other side of the city to see George Clooney’s latest, The Good German. Despite the fact that I’m not a big fan of the theater where we were screening the movie, it was nice to have a morning screening again—because (a) it sucks to go to screenings every single night during the week, and (b) morning screenings are press-only, and it’s fun to hang with the crew. We usually get there a bit early so we can hang out and drink our coffee and chat for a while (it’s our equivalent to the ol’ water cooler, I guess). Mark even brought chocolate chip muffins, so that made the morning even better.

I’ll say this much: The Good German looks really cool. And it was interesting to watch, since my husband was in Berlin for business meetings a few weeks ago—so the pictures of the city were still fresh in my mind. Other than that, though, the story was a bit complex—and not all that exciting. And, despite the coffee I’d been drinking, I had to fight to stay awake.

Fortunately, I wasn’t the only one having a problem keeping up. As I was packing up, Mark asked, “So…did you follow all that?”

“Nope,” I replied. “You?”


Behind us, when the credits rolled, John let out a telling, “Huh.” And in the lobby afterwards, no one even claimed to have been able to follow it.

I was hoping for better things on Tuesday night for Diane Keaton’s Because I Said So. And, well, I liked it—especially because Keaton’s over-the-top character is exactly like my mom (a fact that my fellow critics found hard to believe—but it’s true). Well, except for the skirts. She doesn’t wear skirts like that. Or the belts. But everything else is Mom: her well-meaning meddling, her frantic phone calls, her constant furniture moving, her love of frosting. All Mom. So that made the movie fun for me—because I got it. The guys, however…not so much. They walked out moaning and groaning.

On the non-critic front, however, the guy down the row from us loved it—and even my husband thought it was a fun movie. So, just for the record, I wasn’t the only person in the theater who didn’t hate it.

It did, however, lead to a discussion on the way home about the difference between seeing a movie for fun and seeing a movie as a film critic. My husband pointed out that he can just go and enjoy a movie for what it is—a night out, good company, and a few laughs—but when you see as many movies as we do, and when you have to write about them later, you might become just a little bit jaded. And he’s right. It’s only natural. We all have our jaded moments. There have been times when people have called me bitter and cynical, and those people were probably right.

Along the way, you run into some critics who clearly don’t like their jobs at all. And while there were days in December when I hated my job, too, I really do tend to love what I do. I love being able to go out to the theater and hang out with my friends/colleagues. I love being entertained. I love to laugh. You also run into critics who seem completely disconnected from reality—the ones who won’t give positive reviews to anything that’s not a work of cinematic brilliance. But, as a wise man once told me years ago, when I was working in advertising, “Sometimes you’ve just got to embrace the cheese.” And that applies even more now than it did then. Sometimes, when I’ve seen lots of powerfully dramatic movies about death, I really look forward to seeing, say, Unaccompanied Minors. Hooray for the cheesy comedy! Hooray for Talladega Nights and Beerfest and Accepted! Embrace the cheese! Because, when you’re a film critic, sometimes it’s the cheesy comedies that keep you from killing yourself.

So the big news in the COFCA circles this week was the big Fantasy Moguls draft. Eight of us are once again competing to see who can make the most box office dollars between now and the end of April. Since I came in last during the holiday season (come on—how was I supposed to know that no one would see Flushed Away, Blood Diamond, Unaccompanied Minors, or We Are Marshall—or that A Good Year would suck?). My first pick was the Disney movie, Meet the Robinsons (everyone see it, please). Other than that, there’s pretty much nothing coming out for the next three months. It’s like four months of January.

As the draft continued, we all realized how ashamed we were to pick the movies we picked, but there just wasn’t anything else. If you like horror movies, you’re all set for the next three months. If you like anything else, well, there’s always summer.

I did, however, make a point of embracing the cheese with this season’s picks. So if you could all go out and see Wild Hogs when it comes out, I’d really appreciate it. Thanks.


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