Eric D. Snider

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Archive for October 6th, 2006

Angry Letters: Channing Tatum, ‘Talladega Nights,’ life in general

Friday, October 6th, 2006

We have a backlog of Angry Letters to sort through, so put on your asbestos gloves and protective goggles and let’s get to reading!

First a quick one from someone who used the form on the E-mail Eric page. He marked “general” as the subject, so I don’t know what his letter is in response to. In the “name” field, he put “SNIDERHATER.” For “e-mail address,” he put “sniderhater@yahoo.com.” (I checked; this is not a real e-mail address, sadly.) He writes:

Try to talk yourself out of this…

YOU’RE A [nickname for RICHARD]!

SNIDERHATER makes a lot of good points here and I will not attempt to refute them. Sure, he’s an anonymous coward — I may be a Richard, but at least I sign my name to my work and tell people how to contact me — but he’s an anonymous coward who speaks the truth. I am cut to the quick. Touché, SNIDERHATER. Touché.

The stupidity of this next writer was affirmed before I even read her letter: She had sent the e-mail not through my e-mail page, but through the “Ask Eric Stuff” page, which is quite clearly labeled as a place that is ONLY for non-serious questions that you intend as setups for “Snide Remarks” jokes. If you have an ACTUAL comment or question, the “Ask Eric Stuff” page is not the place to send it. There’s not even a spot on the “Ask Eric Stuff” page for you to include your e-mail address, so how would I reply?

Anyway, the person signed her name “Gertrude Irvingale,” which clearly is not real. But here’s what she had to say:

I just have a teensy question. I read the movie reviews for Channing Tatum and I think that you rated all the movies wrongly… or at least most of them. I realize that this is just your opinion but I think you desperately need to reevaluate your movie reviews if you wish to look cool and stuff like that, u no?

Ha Ha

Ha ha indeed! I’m sure Gertrude Irvingale is right, actually. If I wish to look cool to 15-year-old girls (which I assume she is), then yes, I should probably start evaluating Channing Tatum’s movies differently, i.e., I should give them all A+ grades because Channing Tatum is SUPA FIIIIINNNE! DAYUMN!!!

He’s actually not a bad actor at all. In “A Guide to Recognizing Your Saints” (just now being released in select theaters), he plays a conflicted Italian-American kid (!) and is pretty impressive in the role. I think it may be a breakthrough for him after paying his dues with crap like “Supercross” and “She’s the Man.” I suspect “A Guide to Recognizing Your Saints” is the film Gertrude thinks I got “right” (I gave it a B, the highest of any Channing Tatum film), yet ironically, I doubt she would enjoy it, what with the serious plot and believable characters and intelligent dialogue and so forth. He does have his shirt off a couple times, though, so maybe it would win her over.

But it is foolish to spend time belittling pseudonymous teenagers when there are grown-ups to harass. Here’s what a fellow named Bill had to say about my review of the current Will Ferrell opus:

You have lost your mind and should not be allowed a forum to review any more movies. That was the worst movie of all time (or tied with some others). What a useless waste of film production and distribution. Not funny, entertaining, or amusing, with some very twisted gender bending, not to mention JUST BAD ACTING. THE FILM STUNK.
Even my daughter hated it. Did somebody pay you to give this pile of crap a good review? Go back to film school and work on your studies a bit more before you review anything again. Thank you. Bill

It happened to be my birthday the day I got this, and I was feeling playful. So I sent this reply:

You have lost your mind and should not be allowed a forum to send any more e-mails. That was the worst response to a review I’ve ever read. What a waste of time. Did someone pay you to send me that e-mail? Go back to e-mail school and work on your studies a bit more before you respond to any more reviews. Thank you.

I’m thinking of using that as a form letter, actually.

Next up: An e-mail from someone whose “From” line says Sean, though his e-mail address is john811416usa@netscape.net. Maybe his name is Sean John. He didn’t sign it at all, so it’s hard to say. In fact, the e-mail itself was vague. It reads:

What do you base your reviews on? Are you, or were you an actor at anytime? How long have you been doing this? You seem to be a real punk, who loves attention and needs a swift kick in the [donkey]. YOUR website is boring, kind of like your reviews. Your writing has no creativity and needs a lot of work. And by the way, who in the hell would buy your crap anyway? My advice, go back to starbucks, if you really apply yourself, you just might make assistant manager in about 7-years! You’re Pathetic

Actually, now that I look at it, the capitalization of “You’re Pathetic” and the fact that it occurs at the end of the e-mail makes me think maybe that’s his name. Hmm.

My response to You’re Pathetic was as follows:

Thank you for your mature, well-reasoned e-mail.

To answer your questions, I am not an actor, and I have been reviewing movies since 1999.

Was there a particular review that angered you? Or just life in general?

He did not reply. Once again I fail to understand how someone can become so enraged by a mere movie review. Oh well. Back to Starbucks with me!

Friday movie roundup – Oct. 6

Friday, October 6th, 2006

Martin Scorsese makes films often enough that a new one isn’t an “event,” exactly, but it does pique a film lover’s interest, especially in an otherwise dry season. “The Departed” is a great movie, nearly as good (but not quite) as Scorsese’s “Goodfellas” and “Taxi Driver.”

Even better: It’s set in Boston, with lots of thick, juicy Boston accents. The title itself is actually pronounced “The De-pah-ted.” Say it! It’s fun!

Among the wide releases, that’s the only good news I have for you, unless a confirmation of your suspicions is considered good news. If it is, then you’ll be pleased to know that “Employee of the Month” and “The Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Beginning” are, in fact, as bad as you thought they would be.

The latter was not screened until last night, to avoid opening-day reviews while also avoiding the stigma of not having a screening at all. This is standard operating procedure these days for horror films. In fact, plenty of horror films DON’T have screenings, or when they do, they don’t tell critics about them. But we were actually invited to last night’s last-minute screening, so kudos to New Line for that.

As for “Employee of the Month,” well, interesting story. I e-mailed the publicist last week to see when screenings would be, and she said there weren’t going to be any. It turns out this is what we in the business call a “lie,” because in fact there were two screenings, one last Thursday and one this past Wednesday. I knew about the Wednesday one because there was an ad in one of the local weekly papers telling people where they could pick up their free passes to it.

Note to publicists: If you tell us there isn’t a screening, we’ll be more likely to believe you if you don’t also take out an ad in the paper saying there is.

Anyway, now that I’ve seen the film, I can understand why they tried to hide its existence from critics, the same way poor Leatherface’s mama tossed him in a trash bin after birthing him on the floor of a slaughterhouse (sorry for the “Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Beginning” spoilers there).

Among smaller releases, there is a documentary you should be aware of called “Jesus Camp,” about evangelical Christians and their children. One of my fellow critics was raised in such a family — Pentecostal, “holy roller,” whatever your preferred terminology is — and he said watching the film definitely hit home. (He has since left the faith.) He speculated beforehand that I, having been raised Mormon, might see some of my own childhood in the movie. I said, “From what I know of the movie, I think it’s the way people think Mormons are, but not how they actually are.”

That turned out to be fairly accurate. I saw a few parallels in the way the evangelicals teach their children and the way Mormons do, but not many. The film depicts the kids, all under age 12, as being awfully intense about their faith, weeping and hollering and speaking in tongues at prayer meetings the way their parents do. In interviews, they talk as seriously as any grown-up would. I kept thinking: Where is the FUN in this childhood?

For as weird as people think Mormons are, the children’s programs in the church are pretty normal. You sing songs teaching very basic ideas (God loves you, be more like Jesus, be nice to others, etc.), you sing other songs just for fun, and you learn child-sized bits of doctrine (see previous: God, Jesus, nice, etc.).

The youth minister in the movie preaches against the evils of most popular culture, saying “had it been in the Old Testament, Harry Potter would have been PUT TO DEATH!” The only real parallel to my childhood that I could think of was a woman telling us that arcade games (this was the era of Pac-Man) were of the devil — but this was a woman everyone, our parents included, thought was a fanatical crazy person.

Then there’s a scene where a bunch of the boys, about 10 years old, are in their cabin at Bible camp, laughing and telling ghost stories and just being boys. One of the adult counselors comes in and says he doesn’t think ghost stories “honor God” and maybe they shouldn’t tell them. I thought of the camp-outs I went on as a kid. Did anyone ever tell us not to tell ghost stories? Or did they JUST LEAVE US ALONE AND LET US BE KIDS, FOR CRYING OUT LOUD?! I believe it was the latter.

There’s an article in today’s New York Times (free registration might be required) about how evangelical Christians fear they’re losing their teenagers. What’s interesting is that as my aforementioned critic friend and I left the screening of “Jesus Camp,” he said, “You know, those kids are gonna grow up, and they’re going to be mad, and they’re going to leave the church.” I could see what he meant, and the Times story seems to confirm it. Creating such an intense, un-fun atmosphere for kids when they’re supposed to be enjoying their childhood could make them turn bitter later on. I understand wanting to teach them good Christian principles, but maybe there is such a thing as over-doing it.

Anyway, anyone with a Christian background will probably find the film interesting and provocative. Keep an eye out for when it opens in your area.

As always, you’ll find these reviews and much, much more fabulous information in this week’s “In the Dark,” a weekly e-zine chock-full of such things. Do sign up, won’t you?

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