Criticizing a Critic


I have not seen Where the Wild Things Are, but I know I will not like it. I am a fan of most of the director Spike Jonze’s work. The screenwriter Dave Eggers wrote a brilliant book called What is the What. The children’s book it’s based on hits pangs of nostalgia which can save a movie for me like Speed Racer that the rest of the world hates.

No, I know I will hate this movie because Scott Foundas of the LA Weekly gave it a positive review.

In a city where unemployed film students outnumber aspiring actresses how this man can be lead film reviewer for Los Angeles second biggest periodical is insane.

I have never been able to finish one of his overwordy, cliched, obscure and unclever pop culture referencing psychobabbles. This is utter damnation coming from a man who loves movies and will read just about anything about the subject.

The only memorable comment I can remember from Foundas wasn’t even written. I heard him on the radio say The Diving Bell and the Butterfly was dreck reminiscent of a Michael Bay movie.  OK, it caught my attention when he insulted possibly the most powerful movie of the decade, or at the very least the second best foreign language picture about a quadriplegic. But he backed it up by saying it was because they were both “visually assaulting”.

There are many other critics I don’t agree with, but are decent enough writers that I’m able to read every word of their review. Kenneth Turan of the LA Times isn’t worthy of any Pulitzer Prizes, but his enthusiasm for Once got me in a theater to see that terrible movie . I completely disagree with David Denby’s panning of A Serious Man in the New Yorker, but at least he got off a few funny zingers. (And if you want to see a great review of a terrible movie check out Anthony Lane pissing on the last Star Wars.)

In my mind the point of a film critic is to illuminate readers on aspects of a movie they might not have noticed while spouting out interesting opinions in an entertaining manner. Foundas fails on all these counts. His main objective seems to be fulfilling word counts so his reviews can take up one of the few pages the LA Weekly has not sold as ad space.

He is representative of the utter tragedy the LA Weekly has become. When I moved to LA in 2003 it was an enjoyable undertaking to get through the paper. It was filled with interesting feature articles, television criticism, political commentary, comics, it even had a crossword puzzle. Now it’s one lousy feature story, Nikki Finke’s bitter gossiping about Hollywood, and Scott freaking Foundas. It takes me longer to eat a bowl of cereal then to read that drivel.

I know this is a free newspaper and you get what you pay for, but would it be that hard for the LA Weekly to find someone with something interesting to say about movies? Just sit in the back row of any multiplex and you’ll find nerdy teenagers yelling wittier quips then Foundas provides.


3 thoughts on “Criticizing a Critic

  1. I won’t go see it because the ads are somewhat of a turn-off. It just looks like Never Ending Story ad nauseum. I loved the book when I was a kid. Those Sendak creatures frightened the hell out of me. The PuffNStuff cuddly ones in this film make me “grimace” as if I just ate a whole box of chocolate covered cherries without water to wash it down.

    I think a big problem of most critics is that they DO try to be clever and entertaining. Why not just say what you saw. Leave it at that. My best gage for wanting to see a movie are really the ad “blurbs”the studio chooses to use in the newspaper and tv spots. “One of the best…I could eat it up, I love it so.” blurb from L. Schwarzbaum is the interest killer for me for “Wild Things..

    btw – I am a big fan of “ONCE”. And, think it was truly deserving of all the accolades. But, thats just me…and my wife….and a really big cult following. Just saying.

  2. “This may sound like heady stuff for kids, and it is, but no more so than what actually goes through kids’ heads as they feel their way through the world. “It’s hard being a family,” says KW late in the film — harder still being 9 or 10 and learning that parents are imperfect people, that friendships are fleeting, and that nothing lasts forever. Like Sendak before him, Jonze seizes upon that uncertain moment and transforms it into art.”

    I wouldn’t take a kid older than six to go see this movie. There was no external conflict whatsoever, and it felt like Eggers and Jonze were overambitious in their attempts to overly simplify very complex themes.

    It sounds like your favorite reviewer here is one of those people that forgot this was supposed to be a kid’s movie.

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