Friday, October 01, 2010

Who are the two dissenters raining on David Fincher's parade?

Actually, before I get into that, there are two tidbits about creative folk whose work I often enjoy out there today.

Though he certainly hit a rough stretch in my book with "The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou" and "The Darjeeling Limited," Wes Anderson has also made four movies I truly adore in "Bottle Rocket," "Rushmore," "The Royal Tenenbaums" and "Fantastic Mr. Fox," so any word of the man getting back to work is welcome around here, even if that info comes in the form of the skimpiest of details.

According to Production Weekly's twitter feed, the title of his next movie will be "Moonrise Kingdom" and, best of all, he has plans to shoot it next spring. The only other detail available right now is that he's looking for two 12-year-olds, a boy and a girl, to play the leads.

So, something for children (and not completely jaded adults) like "Fantastic Mr. Fox"? Perhaps, but this will apparently be a live-action affair instead. No matter what, this is good news all around, so stay tuned for more about is as soon I can track it down. ...

In TV news, when it was revealed that "Pushing Daisies" mastermind Bryan Fuller (who also had a big hand in the early stages of "Heroes," before that show completely derailed) had signed a new deal with NBC, that was certainly a promising development. If you've never seen the show that ran for 22 episodes on ABC a few years ago, it was just the definition of whimsy and a perfect little bit of escapist TV.

So I was really looking forward to finding out what he would sink his teeth into next, but according to the always reliable Michael Ausiello at Entertainment Weekly, it's just a remake of "The Munsters," and while that certainly has a little potential in his hands, it mostly just sounds extremely tired.

Even with Ausiello saying the series has been described as "Modern Family meets True Blood," and I have a lot of time for both of those, I just can't say much but meh to this idea so far. ...

And finally today, having given in long ago to any notion that I would somehow boycott Matt Reeves' "Let Me In" on general principles, I've set my viewing schedule for what really should be one of the best movie weekends of the entire year: David Fincher's "The Social Network" on Saturday afternoon, followed by "Let Me In" on Sunday afternoon.

And while Reeves' still thoroughly unnecessary remake of the perfect Swedish vampire coming-of-age tale "Let the Right One In" is doing a more than respectable 83 percent positive at Rotten Tomatoes, Fincher's flick was approaching the perfect score achieved by "Toy Story 2" until a couple of holdouts spoiled the party and knocked "The Social Network" down to 97 percent.

So, who are these two flies in the ointment? Well, they, not surprisingly, have brought their own opinions about much more than the movie itself (and that's their right, of course) into their attempts to judge it.

First up is Armond White of the New York Press, who if he wanted attention, has certainly gotten it this time, with more than 6,000, often very harsh, comments on his review posting at Rotten Tomatoes.

White has earned the reputation as more than a little of an iconoclast for trashing movies like "The Town" and "The Kids Are All Right," and while I can't go with him completely on either of those, I do have to agree that they were both at least a little overrated.

Where he really stepped in it this year, however, was in his completely wrongminded thrashing of "Toy Story 3," calling Pixar's best movie since "Ratatouille" simply "besotted with brand names" (it's about toys, after all ... sheesh.)

So, what's his beef with "The Social Network"? Well, I encourage everyone to read his full review here to find out, but my reading of it is that he just generally finds Hollywood to be a morally bankrupt kind of place, and while that may or may not be true, letting that generality cloud your view of specific films is a sad approach to take. Here's a sample:

Like one of those fake-smart, middlebrow TV shows, the speciousness of The Social Network is disguised by topicality. It’s really a movie excusing Hollywood ruthlessness. That’s why it evades Zuckerberg’s background timidity and the mess that the Internet has made of cultural discourse.

There's much more like that proving that White craves, along with attention, easy answers in his movies, something I've never had much time for.

The second holdout (and there may indeed be more by the time I finish writing this) is someone named Prairie Miller (yes, really) of a conservative blog NewsBlaze, who, perhaps predictably, has a problem with Hollywood's "in-your face cocky" portrayal of Harvard culture, therefore managing to trash both of this country's supposedly elitist coasts without - much like White - saying much at all about the movie itself. Read the whole thing here, but here's a sample:

Though according to filmmaker David Fincher, who seems to already have an experienced handle on scrutinizing budding sociopaths with Fight Club, Se7en and Zodiac, and as mapped out in a series of legal depositions inserted into this film, Zuckerberg had a flair for ripping off both ideas and profits from fellow matriculated collaborators in this venture. Cavalier when not in your face cocky, the gabby snob navigates a Hollywood notion of Harvard in what seems less brainiac boot camp than an Ivy League Club Med where nobody does homework.

Now, both of these writers have a lot more readers than I do, and perhaps rightly so, but is it all surprising that the only two dissenters from what has been almost universally hailed as a great movie have done so due to preconceived notions they clearly took into the movie with them?

Everyone's welcome to their opinions though, of course, and if I have time before I, sadly, have to work on Sunday, you'll get mine on David Fincher's "The Social Network." And with that, have a great weekend, and go see lat least one new movie if you have the time. Peace out.


The Mad Hatter said...

Howdy - been a while since I commented here!

So if you're curious about LET ME IN, I've posted my review this morning, feel free to give it a peek.

I find myself perplexed by the whole rage against critics who dare upset a 100% score on RT. I mean hell, as it stands very few movies clear 95%...can't getting to that level be enough?

But where White is concerned, it's clear that the guy has just lost the plot (we talked about him back in July on my podcast). He's not an idiot - listening to him talk or reading his non-movie writing proves that much. But he's not "just a contrarion" either. He sees the world the way he sees the world for reasons only he knows.

Basically, I stopped paying attention to him when David Chen asked him on the /Filmcast to name a few other critics whose opinion he respected and there was silence for like ten seconds.

jeremy said...

I was lucky enough to see "The Social Network" almost a month ago at a screening. I was underwhelmed and left thinking, "Who in the world will be interested in this story?" The script is jam-packed with jargon and while it is sometimes fun to marvel at Sorkin's flair for language, it left me feeling like he was busy investing himself into the character, and not the actual person in the story.
I tend to agree with White's sentiment that the movie is more about how Hollywood works than about how this (rather boring) story probably really went down.
Then you have Eisenberg's performance which is so scene-munchy, all it served to do was remind that I was watching people act. People act and say lines. If I'm thinking about those things while I'm watching a movie, its probably not the best movie.
Of course, Fincher is a saving grace and that is why I would recommend the movie, but only a matinee.

Reel Fanatic said...

Like you, Mad Hatter, I have absolutely no problem with a movie not getting to 100 percent (especially one I haven't even seen yet), but the tone of those two just stuck in my craw ... I've been reading Armond White for years now, and I do have to give him credit that, even though he often pisses me off, he never, ever bores me ... I'll certainly stop by to read your Let Me In take, but it will have to be later during my lunch break

And I, like you, Jeremy, can only take so much Jesse Eisenberg, so I hope I can take him here ... I know the movie is going to be jargony, but I often felt the same way about "The West Wing" (but never the superior "Sports Night"), but the stories on the former were almost always strong enough to trump that ... And I'm hoping for better than matinee fare, and can't wait to find out tomorrow