I was honestly going to take tonight off to focus on some other stuff I need to get done but then Kevin Smith, James Cameron and, er, Glenn Beck — yes, you heard me, Glenn freaking Beck, have made that impossible. Between the three of them, I could probably do five thousand words alone. Just let’s say there’s a whole lotta lameness going on. On the other hand, Michael Bay is actually making as much sense as Cameron these days. It’s a weird world we live in. And that’s not all, to wit…
* In a massive example of what this liberal feels falls under the category of “dude, I’m not sure you’re helping,” while talking to the press, James Cameron launched into a somewhat humourous expletive filled tirade against Glenn Beck, the newest and by far the looniest resident of the Fox News asylum. Naturally, this was grist for the mill of John Nolte over at Andrew Breitbart’s frequently even more unhinged far right film blog, Big Hollywood.
Now, it would probably take me the aforementioned five thousands words to explain why the vast majority of what Nolte ordinarily writes is, I believe objectively and factually, complete horse puckey. However, here there is a definite kernel of truth in noting that Cameron’s decision to release an initially stripped down “Avatar” single disc with zero extras on Earth Day, naturally to be followed by more deluxe editions in the future, doesn’t exactly fit in with the environmentalist message of the film or Cameron’s claims to be not too terribly concerned with making scads of money. Though, to be fair, Fox — owned by Rupert Murdoch — does have something to say here as well.
Of course, Glenn Beck has responded and, watching said response, during the first half I was thinking: “Good work, James Cameron, you’ve given Glen f–king Beck a chance to look sane.” But, fortunately for my view of the universe, Beck’s need to over-dramatize, even in an attempt at humor, prevented him from looking too stable or stable at all.
Steven Zeitchik of the oh-so-liberal (in comparison to Big Hollywood) L.A. Times provides the video and some context involving Cameron’s involvement in a 2007 documentary touching on the historical reality of the New Testament. Big Hollywood provides the same video and some very different context on the same film. I simply don’t have the time to investigate that one right now.
Three things I’m sure of, however: 1. One of these men is a gifted egomaniac; 2. the other is a former “Morning Zoo” shock jock who has found the only job on the planet requiring even less intelligence and sense of responsibility; 3. the best way to turn the public off the entire issue of the environment is for James Cameron and Glenn Beck to have a debate about it.
* Kevin Smith may not be dealing in the same epic level of idiocy as the players in the above drama, but in this case he’s coming for me, so to speak. You see, I’m one of the gazillions of critics who gave his “Cop Out” a negative review. I couldn’t deny the nearly objective reality that it was a sloppy piece of work, but I thought pretty long and pretty hard about just how to approach this bad film given that I never really got bored and that I laughed enough to keep me happy, even if the film was egregiously sloppy to the point of being something of an insult to itself. I say this just in case Smith is reading this that he should understand that I did not hate his latest movie and, up to now, have rather liked his public persona. You see, like his alter ego in “Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back,” Smith pays far too much attention to what is written about him and his movies on the ‘net.
You’d think that, given the commercial boost “Cop Out” has given his career, which apparently just led to the long-delayed greenlighting of his satirical horror film, “Red State,” he might be able to take some bad reviews that came out a few weeks back in his stride. However, the Twitter snit fit of monumental proportions that he has launched into over the last 48 hours or so argues that that is not the case. Since Smith loves a good porno reference, let me give you the money shot portion of said tirade:
…from now on, any flick I’m ever involved with, I conduct critics screenings thusly: you wanna see it early to review it? Fine: pay like you would if you saw it next week. Like, why am I giving an arbitrary 500 people power over what I do at all, let alone for free? Next flick, I’d rather pick 500 randoms from Twitter feed & let THEM see it for free in advance, then post THEIR opinions, good AND bad. Same difference. Why’s their opinion more valid? It’s a backwards system. People are free to talk shit about ANY of my flicks, so long as they paid to see it. Fuck this AnimalFarm bullshit.
Now, I understand that there are a lot of nasty, whiny schadenfreude-loving snots in the world of entertainment writing. I know that sometimes, some critics engage in idiotic personal attacks against filmmakers who’ve disappointed them and, for some reason, Kevin Smith and Quentin Tarantino seem to be the most popular targets for that. Let’s call it the self-hating geek phenomenon. I get that. There’s also, on the other hand, a lot of thoughtful critics who are trying to be fair both to the films we review and our readers and who try like hell to make sure that we never confuse the work with the human being. Miserable people can and do make great films and great people can and do make miserable films.
Of course, we can’t make Smith and his production companies allows us into his films. And he brings up an interesting point:
I’ve got longevity on my side now. I’ve been doing this since 93: so 17 years. I’m a veteran of the film biz. And as a veteran – not just some spectator with an opinion – I think I know what’s better for me & my career than total strangers whose Google-able history proves they’ve NEVER had my best interests at heart. So I’m gonna listen to THOSE people? Nyet. Listening to me, not them, has gotten me THIS far.
Aside from it having the sound of one of those cornered gangster monologues from the end of, I don’t know, “Scarface” or “White Heat,” while I’m the first to think less of a critic who engages in personal attacks, I’m completely puzzled why Kevin Smith thinks we should have his best interests at heart. What we should have at heart is engaging our readers and, perhaps, the future of film. Smith is exactly right that, in theory at least, he should know best how to manage his career. What he does is not our business.
Moreover, the filmmaker’s emotional well-being is not our responsibility, it’s his. If Kevin Smith doesn’t enjoy reading bad reviews of his films I suggest he do what a lot of smart directors do and avoid reading all reviews of his films, since he clearly takes them too much to heart. If he really and truly believes that making critics pay to see his films will help him in some way, I suggest he try it and see what happens when only random anonymous posters review his film. Won’t he be just a little bit curious what Roger Ebert or Karina Longworth or whomever actually thinks of his film? Oh, well, they likely won’t be reviewing him anymore if he has his way.
* In much, much happier news THR’s Heat Vision blog is reporting that “Mission: Impossible IV” producers Tom Cruise and J.J. Abrams may be considering a truly interesting choice: Brad Bird of Pixar’s Oscar-winning “Ratatouille” and “The Incredibles” not to mention his outstanding first feature, “The Iron Giant.” Just about as interesting are the other filmmakers who’ve reportedly been in meetings, Edgar Wright of “Shaun of the Dead,” “Hot Fuzz,” and the upcoming, heavily buzzed “Scott Pilgrim vs. the World” and Ruben Fleischer of “Zombieland.” To my way of thinking, Fleischer may not be nearly as accomplished as the other two, though that’s no insult considering, but regardless it sure does sound like they’re thinking of taking the fourth entry in a fascinating new direction.
I didn’t care at all for the first two films in the series and was pleasantly surprised with the wit and cleverness J.J. Abrams brought to the third entry. With someone of the caliber of Bird, Wright, or perhaps even Fleischer on board, the fourth is starting to look potentially even better.