David Elliott’s April 12 nostalgic review of a nostalgic film spends the first three paragraphs scuttling his feelings about the movie in a thinly veiled attempt to prove to the readership and film intelligentsia that he should know better, then the remaining four resurrecting them. One doesn’t need to apologize for liking a movie for the things that make it likable. Only the crassest of cinema snobs are going to fault one for appreciating the grandeur of an epic that harkens back to a style when film was about the relationships between characters caught in dramatic circumstances. That’s the human relatability thread that makes moviegoers care — and the reason there are separate categories in the Oscars for best film and best documentary. That grandeur doesn’t come cheap, either. Viewers can vote with their feet if they don’t like a film. When the director who changed the face of cinema technology with the introduction of Avatar rolls out a 3-D version of a 2-D filmed epic, I’d hope he dropped some coin to update it to the current standards that he advanced.

Reviews are supposed to act as the first wave on the beach, helping us decide which route to chart amongst the detritus of trumped-up laurels from the Kansas City Star and their ilk. Cynics (ain’t nobody here but us chickens) can confuse success with greed all they want; without big box office returns, blockbusters on this scale don’t get risked by studios. Attempts to agitate for equivalency between a film’s popular success and an Occupy Fill-in-the-Blank notion of greed will elicit more sweeping vistas and cinemagraphic excellence on the scale of The Blair Witch Project and its handheld on-hanger progeny — of course, driving the profit margins higher on such fare and encouraging more such “sellouts.” I’ll continue to look at what reviewers say, then make my own call on the next James Cameron film, or any film that piques my interest, and not worry about someone catching me enjoying it. For those more self-conscious viewers, IFC usually gets thrown into the first-tier cable package at no extra cost. You either like this stuff or you don’t.

Matthew Thompson
via email

A Word From Our Sponsors

The Reader’s critique of the recent layoffs at Voice of San Diego and VOSD’s operations was a good beginning but lacked depth (“The Business of Nonprofit News,” “City Lights,” April 5). The key questions — like, “Exactly who are your major donors?” — were not asked, and that might have offered insight into the out-of-seniority dismissal of, for example, Emily Alpert, who is, it appears, replaced by Will Carless. Shortly after Alpert was gone, Carless launched a grotesque attack on the San Diego Education Association and its leadership, in essence denouncing the union for starting to think like a union, that is, recognizing contradictory interests of employers and employees.

Carless insisted that the union arrive at the bargaining table having already announced a surrender of wages, hours, and working conditions. Nobody needs a union to surrender, and moreover, that is not how bargaining works. Alpert, at least, reported from evidence. She went out, looked around, and reported what she saw, in a reasonably balanced context. Carless, writing with the breezy pen of a hit-and-run specialist, took a fictional template of understanding and tried to force his players into it. In the context of the relentless attacks on teachers, here and nationwide, reflecting the demands of a society promising youth bad jobs, no jobs, and perpetual war, it would have been very interesting to learn exactly who VOSD’s sponsors are, what their interests may be, and how the Carless-over-Alpert decision was made. Absent that, thoughtful critics are left with suspecting that the VOSD is the voice of San Diego’s largely white upper-middle class that likes hip, if superficial, news.

Name Withheld by Request
via email

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Comments

macblastoff April 18, 2012 @ 9:21 a.m.

To be clear, in my commentary on David Elliott's more recent review of Titanic 3-D, I'm not throwing him in with cynics or blurb writers who do film review a disservice and make it harder for the consumer to find good entertainment. I value his critiques and learn from them things I would have missed or haven't the experience to catch. My commentary was focused on those readers or reviewers who would assess the worth of the film based upon the cost to make such an epic, or throw Titanic out with the bathwater because of the less than solid supporting cast performances because they fall short of the character development and dimensionality of those in Downton Abbey.

I look forward to Mr. Elliott's next reviews to decide how to focus my viewing and continue learning about the continuum of film.

--Matthew Thompson

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Diamonds Forever April 25, 2012 @ 8:25 a.m.

While it's always interesting to hear someones views on a film; criticism is always going to be a subjective thing. What I find even more interesting is our need for film and how we are willing to view on the silver screen what we are less willing to see in our own lives (or frame and place on our fireplace mantle or post on Facebook).

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