- Further proof that Roger Ebert should gracefully retire before he damages his "legacy" (such as it is) any more than he has recently came out of his own mouth on Friday. In his review of Goya's Ghosts (3.0/4) (20 Jul 2007), he implicitly dismisses European criticism of the film as an inappropriate refusal to recognize the difference between the critic and the filmmaker: "Sometimes I wonder if critics aren't reviewing the film they would have preferred rather than the one the director made." In two other reviews also posted on Friday, he turns around and does precisely that.
If I have a problem with the movie, it's the too-neat O. Henry ending. I would have rather plunged deeper into the fearful waters they tread. A perfectly realistic movie on such a situation would have been fascinating, but here it has been adjusted, alas, to the requirements of the audience. Why do people get so angry at movies that end in mystery and unresolved wounds, like Lost in Translation? Why do they like it when a movie, however fascinating, goes on autopilot to wrap things up at the end?
Review of Interview (3.0/4) (20 Jul 2007) (typography corrected).
Blasting a Q-ball to its constituent parts sounds normal to me, but then I read every sci-fi magazine published during my adolescence, and my hero was John W. Campbell Jr., the editor of Astounding/Analog, who insisted his fiction not be preposterous, but sensible and possible, such as a mission to the sun to blast a Q-ball to pieces.
- Yeah, I really honestly believe that there's a shortage of gasoline available at the pump. On the other hand, I also remember late 1973 through early 1975. Might I suggest reporters and media outlets (not to mention PR flacks) asserting that this reflects the so-called "law of supply and demand" look up the concept of "price elasticity" before they open their ignorant mouths again?
- I'm going to set the over/under on the length of the forthcoming film of HP7 and remember, no screenwriter or director has yet been fully confirmed at 2:10. A substantially greater proportion of the book is devoted to the kind of set-piece scenarism that compresses easily (or, at least, efficiently) into shorter passages on film than has been true of any prior book in the series. I'll leave it to readers and, eventually, to filmgoers to decide whether this is a "bug" or a "feature." Hopefully, one of Russ Meyer's scriptwriters (see first item above) won't get too revisionist himself when he gets his shot at evaluating it.
And Saddam Hussein is still dead.2
- I'm probably going to be shot for saying this by an angry 70ish fanboy while I'm in St. Louis is two weeks' time, but "demanded better than the crap that went before him, and actually had relatively honest business practices" is not sufficient justification for holding up John W. Campbell as a paragon of good fiction editing. Leaving aside that Campbell was a reactionary, racist SOB the story of his estrangement from Dr Asimov is covered in more than sufficient detail in both of Asimov's own memoirs Campbell is perhaps the epitome of "there's only one correct way to write fiction." He should be celebrated as a pioneer who showed the way out of a particular rut not as a master worthy of emulation today. Perhaps the most damning thing that one can say about John W. Campbell is that his editorial approach to storytelling would have approved of The Phantom Script... which will almost certainly prove to have less narrative coherence than this forthcoming film about fanboys on the way to see it. Or anything coming out of George III's mouth.
- OK, those lines are updated from slightly different eras of SNL. So sue me.