Jeff Smith noon, July 3
Critic finds lump of coal in stocking
Look what they're writing to the editor, and at Christmas no less.
I almost passed on the Hitchcock movie after reading the Scott Marks' review. What a mistake that would have been. It was a way- above-average movie, as are almost all of those starring Anthony Hopkins. It gave a nice history of Hollywood movie-making, ’50s lore, and Alfred Hitchcock as a human being.
We all know his movies, but to see him deal with everyday life, jealousy, and his own foibles, far outweighs any criticism of the star as 'encased in a Martin Lawrence fat suit, outfitted with a bad latex nose, and suffering from an oscillating dialect.' And who among us knows or cares that the movie was 'shot in ’Scope, a ratio Hitch despised and never used'? What I want from a movie is entertainment and emotion, and what I want from a reviewer is how likely I am to get that from it. Scott Marks didn’t deliver, but 'Hitchcock' did.
With all due respect, Joe, why would you allow a stranger, someone you never once met in your life, to be so presumptuous as to tell you what will or will not entertain you? I'm a film critic, not a clairvoyant. The only person capable of keeping a list of everyone's likes and wants is Santa Claus, and while the suit fits, I'm not him.
Ultimately, it's not the films you look at that's important, it's how you look at them. That's were a critic's services best come in handy.
When it comes to the arcane bit about anamorphic aversion, color me guilty as charged. I've had a fascination with CinemaScope and Panavision since first I learned that almost two-thirds of the image was being lopped off on pan-and-scan TV prints. (Don't even think of depriving me of so much as an inch of cinema!) Certain directors shunned the lens. Jerry Lewis was a card-carrying anamorphobe and Fritz Lang famously remarked, "Oh, it wasn't meant for human beings. Just for snakes – and funerals." The historian/purist/lover within finds it hard to hold back when it comes to dispensing this type of "privileged" information.
Your admiration of the film's ability to paint Hitch as a human being is a bit askew. Here's one little tidbit that as a student of The Master, I'd bet my eyesight never took place. Hitchcock was a non-confrontational soul. He would never, never look someone in the eye and say, "Get off my set." He'd instruct one of his assistants to show the bloke the exit door. And Hitch as a patient stretched out on Ed Gein's couch?! It's a cheap, sniggering affront to an artist whose only sin was that he made it look easy. Alfred Hitchcock was without a doubt the single most influential filmmaker in the history of the medium. His deserves better.
I posted a link to Joe's letter on Facebook and my friend (a real one, not a dead celebrity), Georgi, had this to say:
I tend to agree with him, Scott. You are fortunate to see any movie you want -- many you don't care to -- and we don't have that luxury. Many of us rely on your opinion which ...tho insightful...has a certain, shall I say negativity. We need to take that into account when depending on you to be an insightful filter...'Hitchcock' was a very decent film as are those he made.
I'm not a filter, insightful or otherwise, and don't claim to be. Honest to God, I have never let a critic's opinion influence whether or not I will see a film. I refuse to give anyone that power over me and never read a review before seeing a movie. Go and judge for yourself. I am a terrible barometer of public opinion because I tend to form my own, not follow the flock. As for negativity, 80% of what I watch is shit, pure and simple. I'm a reasonably intelligent man with an acerbic sense of humor and an expansive knowledge of film history. That's it. My goal is to make my readers laugh and maybe even think on occasion, not dictate taste. Hell, my goal is to piss enough people off so they'll leave their living rooms, go to a theatre, and prove me wrong.
As the song says, "If you don't expect too much from me, you might not be let down." Never turn to me for plot summary or sociological import. That's never been the driving force behind all my hours logged in the dark. Allow me to make you laugh and occasionally point out something that might have slipped past your radar. As for my reliability, look on the bright side, Joe and Georgi: if I pan it, that's your cue to drop $11.00. Merry Christmas, and remember, when you see Les Mis or Zero Dark Thirty, tell them grouchy Marks didn't send you.
More like this:
- The funniest clip of Alfred Hitchcock you've never seen — June 24, 2013
- Timothy Spall, the man who should be king — Nov. 30, 2012
- Review: The Girl — Oct. 25, 2012
- Free movies of the weak: Iron lungs on film — Sept. 7, 2012
- Mike Tyson and Other Documentaries — May 11, 2009