I don’t really care when a critic savages a movie I love. Critics are paid to write about film and be interesting. As Anton Ego says in Ratatouille, negative reviews are fun to write. Magnolia, however, is the source of the worst negative review I’ve ever read.
My issue with the review (which you can read here) is not that City Pages critic Rob Nelson hated the movie. That’s totally fine. He has the right to hate the movie and it is his job to tell people what the thought.
My biggest issue was that the review, at least in its reference to the character played by Phillip Seymour Hoffman, is completely misleading. He refers to Hoffman’s character as nurse who “who nervously orders porno mags for home delivery.”
While this statement is true, the statement’s implication of why he is doing this is far different from his actual motivation. We read that line and we conclude that he is probably ordering these magazines for his own personal use. We are given the impression he is some sort of pervert who is reading porn and jerking off while a man lies dying nearby. He clearly doesn’t give a shit about his patient and cares only about his own sexual gratification. Maybe he’s a closeted gay necrophiliac or something.
In fact, Hoffman’s character is the kindest and most compassionate person in the entire film. He treats his dying patient with care and respect and when he is asked to do that patient a favor, he goes far beyond his charge as a nurse.
He orders those magazines as a way to help him search for a man’s estranged son. That is what the review carefully doesn’t tell you.
Those who have been following my Alphabetical Movie Blog closely might have noticed that I’m writing about Madagascar 3 without having taken the time to write about the two films that, presumably, preceded it.
Thing is, I don’t own either one of them. The rules of the project clearly dictate that I’m only watching movies I own. It just so happens that the only movie I own in the Madagascar trilogy is the most recent.
I think that the explanation is simple. Here it is:
I don’t own the other two Madagascar films because I think they are OK. And my kids think they are OK. We simply haven’t had any pressing need to pick up a copy of either one of them.
That Circus Afro song, though. That constitutes a “pressing need.”
If you would like me to explain why I cannot get enough of a fifteen second song sung by Chris Rock voicing a polka dotted zebra, I have no words. It is, simply, an absurd moment that fills me with primal glee.
My admission should not be taken as some sort of shame. I’m not the only person who was totally gaga over a fifteen second joke in a 90 minute movie. Once the film was released, they made a new trailer that basically acknowledged the fact there was a subset of their audience that was interested in only one thing.
Because I have kids, I’ve seen most of the “kid” movies in my house multiple times, even if it is just in the background. So it is with this film. I know there are other parts to the movie and yet I can’t remember them because they are eclipsed by a gigantic rainbow colored clown wig.
I love it even though it was the only song my children sang for at least a week after we saw the film on initial release. Generally, that behavior makes me want to find every copy of the song in existence and smash it with a hammer.
Yes, I believe there is a way to smash an iTunes version of a song with a hammer.
But something almost sinister happened with this particular snippet of music. I wanted to sing along with my kids.
Look, there are very few movies that I can recall scene for scene. The best movies have slow points. And movies I love more than anything might get re-watched once a year at most. I may not be able to recall most of Madagascar 3: Europe’s Most Wanted but the truth is, I like it enough that I’m willing to watch the rest of the movie for that moment.
It isn’t even that a singing zebra clown is the funniest thing ever featured in an animated film.
But it is silly and absurd and (if you haven’t seen the trailer) unexpected. It stays with you and makes you like the rest of the film just a little bit more.
There are few enough scenes like that in any movie. Don’t judge me for enjoying that scene in this movie.
The central argument being made by Jurassic Park and The Lost World is if we bring dinosaurs back from extinction, they will destroy us. Humans, we learn, are just too puny to survive the return of the giant lizards and we will become a buffet for T-rex and Velociraptors.
Not being a biologist, I can only speculate that there are gigantic problems with this assumption as the current climate on most of the Earth is not actually compatible with dinosaur physiology. Sure, Velociraptor infestation would a problem in New York but could they survive the winter?
Science aside, here’s the big problem with this premise: Who cares? Dinosaurs!
If a scientist stepped up to a podium tomorrow and said “I can re-create dinosaurs but there are going to be a few problems…” every reporter in the room would miss what came next because they would be envisioning parks where you could saddle up to ride an Apotosaurus, go Pteranadon gliding and feed goats to a T-Rex.
I enjoy Kung-Fu Hustle a lot but I’ve always faced a bit of a dilemma about the film because it wasn’t quite the film that I wanted it to be.
The film itself is a Kung-Fu film set in a world that could best be described as the Warner Brothers cartoon version of a Kung Fu movie. There is even a chase scene that would appear to be straight out of a Road Runner cartoon.
Yet the name of the film and the opening scene made it seem like what was about to be shown was a King Fu musical. Thing about that for a minute. A kung-fu musical. By Stephen Chow. If the concept doesn’t make you salivate, you need to educate yourself on Stephen Chow. Go and watch Shaolin Soccer.
I know a few people who really hate Tom Cruise.
Not Tom Cruise as an actor in a movie, mind you. They just fucking hate Tom Cruise.
They hate him so much that they don’t ever want to watch a movie starring him, featuring him or possibly even associated with him. I think that they would avoid movies with the word “cruise” in them. That’s cool, I guess. Everyone has their own opinions.
You can’t really escape sexism in most movies but the older the movie, the more likely that the sexism will be overt. Just like the racism in classic films, though, everyone involved in making the films was oblivious to what they were doing.
Nobody was trying to be sexist. They just were. The fact that women weren’t actually delicate flowers who would faint at the slightest provocation didn’t change the fact that women in film were that way. Easiest way to facilitate the monster carrying his victim? Have her faint!
That isn’t really sexism, right? It’s just practical.
Every generation has at least one comedian who ends up being popular in films in spite of the fact that they are almost universally despised. Or so it would seem.
Take Martin Short, who stars in Innerspace. At the time the film came out, he was a fairly popular comedian and most of the people I knew could never figure out why. His spastic characters grew tiresome very quickly and while he had the likable nerd thing going on, Rick Moranis did it way better.