The character of criticism changed in 2010.
Critics always get their fair share of criticism. It’s the nature of the business. Point fingers, and fingers get pointed back.
Digs about my age, my hair — no it’s not a perm, and my intellect have been common throughout my career. The good-natured back and forth between readers and me used to be fun. This year, many of the diatribes were rage-filled. My critiques were taken personally, and the responses were intensely personal and often very ugly.
As an example, my panning of Inception, Scott Pilgrim Vs. the World and Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 1 led to several hundred nasty, personal attack emails and postings on Atomictown.com and on Rotten Tomatoes.com.
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While it’s nice to know that people read my reviews, the vehemence of the responses is truly frightening. A good example is a Tri-City reader who took exception to my review of Inception.
This is his comment unedited: “Hey gary shut up and go re-sort your sock collection. I hate you! Not just as a critic but also as a human being, your reviews suck are illogical and absolutely biased. If you knew how to suck any harder youd be a hoover. Please do the world a favor, cut your eyes out of your head and shove them up your ass. Why? Ill explain it to you since you are stupid to figure stuff out on your own. So you can never watch a movie again!”
Rage over a movie review? Cut my eyes out? It boggles the mind.
I contacted the guy who wanted my eyes cut out and to his credit, he apologized and then went on to make another post and bashed me again.
On Scott Pilgrim accusations flew that I should resign because I am too old to understand the video-game addicted Generation Y. One person wrote, “He [Mr. Movie] comes off as your semi-braindead grandpa constantly spitting venom about a world he doesn't care to understand.”
A few days ago, I watched a young man struggling to send a text message to someone while standing at a urinal. Maybe they’re right.
Before moving on. I will give kudos to the Harry Potter crowd. They were a little more polite as this example shows.
“If you really couldn't get what's going on (and you should, have because you most likely saw the last six movies because of your job) then I don't believe you should be a movie critic because you can even understand this simple plot and you feel the need to trash something that the majority of people love. To sum things up for you Mr. Movie, you are a pig headed imbecile with stupidity to spare.”
If I quit, do I get to I get to keep my eyes?
One final comment on the comments. The most scathing criticism of my reviews are posted within a few hours of a review being posted. At that point, I personally don’t think many of those ripping my skin off have actually seen the movie.
Later postings tend to agree with me.
Moving on. Like most businesses, the movie industry is in transition. Old school is dying. While some big-name actors remain box office bankable, audiences seem more impressed these days with style rather than substance.
Inception is a strong case for my point. No denial here that it is an incredible piece of work. Writer/director Christopher Nolan’s effects and storytelling style dazzle the senses. However, the rambling plot, which involves corporate espionage conducted by entering the dream of an executive, is a serious stretch. Then dragging it out to 2 1/2 hours seemed excessive.
It’s a classic case of plot and character development taking a back seat to style.
Ironically, while effects dominated the movie year, what stands out the most on my best list is the quality of the acting. It may be better this year than any I have seen in the last decade.
That said, doing a list of the year’s best and worst is akin to throwing darts at a dartboard. There is an elite group of each. One or two sit at the top. The rest are pretty much equal.
I saw fewer movies in 2010 than usual. That is attributed to a growing reluctance of studios to make sure legitimate critics get to see their product before it opens. Renting theaters for advanced screenings is expensive. Most see the instant-nature of the internet as a better way to get the word out about their movies.
As a point of reference for my best and worst list, the year’s top domestic grossing movies looks something like this:
1. Toy Story 3
2. Alice in Wonderland
3. Iron Man 2
4. Twilight: Eclipse
6. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 1
7. Despicable Me
8. Shrek Forever After
9. How to Train Your Dragon
10. The Karate Kid
Four of the top 10 are on my worst movies of the year list. Just two — “How to Train Your Dragon” and “Toy Story 3” are among my favorites.
I still haven’t seen some of the “best” films on the lists of some major-market critics such as Rabbit Hole, Carlos and Casino Jack. Most on my list have opened in Tri-Cities, will soon open or they are now out on DVD.
1. The King’s Speech: Colin Firth and Geoffrey Rush give the two best male performances of the year in this uplifting, and powerful historical drama.
2. The Kids are All Right: The best female performances of the year are from Annette Bening and Julianne Moore, who fly up and down an emotional roller coaster that screams around hairpin corners.
3. The Social Network: Jesse Eisenberg’s distracted, staccato delivery as Mark Zuckerberg is brilliant. The machine-gun dialogue comes in gigabites. It’s fast and clever, and goes by so quickly you wish it was a DVD and could rewind.
4. Toy Story 3: Critics cried. Critics don’t cry. Ever.
5. How to Train Your Dragon: Once again animators prove that the richest, deepest, most realistic characters found in movies these days really aren’t real.
6. Waiting for Superman, The Inside Job: The year’s two best documentaries. One brilliantly educates on what’s wrong with the nation’s education system, the other exposes dangerous financial corruption.
7. Red: The most fun I had in a theater all year.
8. 127 Hours: A superb solo performance from the always underrated James Franco.
9. The Fighter: Based on the “true” story of a modern-day “Rocky.” Christian Bale’s performance is mind-blowing.
10. True Grit: Only Jeff Bridges and the Coen brothers could have pulled this off.
Honorable mentions: The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, Another Year, I Love You Phillip Morris, City Island.
The Worst — A list of what’s wrong with the year’s more important movies.
1. The Last Airbender: Brain death.
2. Legend of the Guardians: The Owls of Ga’Hoole: Tries to blend three of 15 books into a coherent story and fails. And no sense of humor at all.
3. Scott Pilgrim Vs. the World: A butt-kicking, macho Michael Cera is hard to buy.
4. The Karate Kid: No personality, no humor, no life and it runs 2 1/2 hours.
5. Inception: Made me wish I was dreaming and could wake up and dream a different movie.
6. Twilight: Eclipse: So slow you’d swear reading the 600-plus page book would be quicker.
7. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 1: Nothing comprehensible happens for 146 minutes.
8. Eat, Pray, Love: Assuming you care about this self-absorbed lady and her story, gobs of critical, character connecting information is left out.
9. Remember Me: Forgettable. Robert Pattinson proves his bad acting in the “Twilight” movies is no fluke. He really is that bad.
10. The American: You know a movie is bad when the only excitement and the most action is found in an out-of-place, and overly long sex scene.
The Worst — The dregs (films we know will suck before we see them)
1. Furry Vengeance 2. The Tooth Fairy3. Grown-ups4. Yogi Bear5. Hot Tub Time Machine
1. The Expendables: The second-best time I had in a theater all year.
2. Kick-Ass: Did.
3. Chloe: Amanda Seyfried sizzles and proves she can do something deeper than dumb love stories like Dear John. Having Julianne Moore as a co-star and a superb plot didn’t hurt either.
4. She’s Out of My League: Charming, and it is exactly how a predictable romantic comedy ought to be done.
5. Splice: The year’s best horror movie is flat-out creepy.