Monday, December 15, 2014

But Was It Any Good?

Here's the first sentence in Stephanie Zacharek's LA Weekly review of Chris Rock's new film Top Five:

Whatever it is Americans want out of life — and it's not even something we can precisely define ourselves — it was nowhere in evidence on Dec. 3, when a grand jury failed to indict the New York police officer whose chokehold killed Eric Garner in July.

As they used to say in The New Yorker, here's an article I never bothered to finish.  Apparently Zacharek confused her movie column with the editorial page.  Stephanie, I barely care what you think about the movie, but I don't care at all what you believe about American politics.  Even when films are explicitly all about politics (and I wouldn't put Top Five in that category), try to tell us about the film, not your smug pontifications on the geopolitical scene.

Speaking of which, here's the last sentence by another editorial writer who's mistakenly found himself on the film pages.  It's the last sentence from a squib review--a rave--by Alan Scherstuhl on the documentary Concerning Violence:

There are revelations here for everyone, but this definitely should be seen by every white American who shares MLK quotes on Facebook to tell black Americans to stop protesting

The movie is, as far as I can tell, a pro-violence film about colonization, and follows the principles of Frantz Fanon.  As Scherstuhl puts it:

Göran Hugo Olsson's profound essay documentary aspires to upset in the truest sense. [...I]ts narration [...] demands that Western viewers fundamentally upset their conceptions of everything.

Now that's useful information, telling us what the film is like (even if he's wrong about Western viewers--not to mention the subset that'll see this film--who, I'm guessing, are more open and diverse than Scherstuhl understands).  Less useful is Scherstuhl emphatically embracing Fanon's questionable (and that's a nice word for it) theorizing on the topic, rather than actually reviewing the film.  He seems to be giving the work a thumbs up because it represents a lecture he approves of.  Hate to see what he'd say about a documentary that actually challenges his beliefs.


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