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I don’t know if Arion Berger works directly for your paper or not. If not, and you pay for her reviews through syndication, please find someone else.
First, Berger doesn’t pay very much attention to the facts behind a film. It wasn’t Liv Tyler narrating the story in the beginning of Lord of the Rings, but Cate Blanchett (“Young Fresh Fellowship,” 12/21/02). Is this a big deal? No. But if I were being paid to watch movies, I’d pay attention to them.
She also loves to put forth her opinion as fact. Can’t she say she didn’t like a movie and still (like any enlightened movie-watcher) describe why others might? I’ve seen numerous movies that I hated, but I still know exactly who would like it and why and would suggest the film to those people.
She also seems to fill up a heck of a lot of space not reviewing a film, but rather just telling everyone scene for scene what the movie is about. If people want that, they can pick up any magazine.
Berger had more good things to say about Blade 2 (“The Sharper Image,” 3/22) than Panic Room (“Room at the Bottom,” 3/29). Now, I’ll admit, Panic Room wasn’t perfect, but what the heck is she going off about saying the film has some kind of social depravity starring a rich (even though she isn’t) white woman pitted against “ethnic” villains (only one of whom is African-American). With all the bad things she says about Panic Room, she doesn’t say anything about the fact that the film has some great character development and good twists—and it seems to me as if the film has a social message about a woman who is at her weakest taking charge while being attacked by violent men. In a film world dominated by push-up-bra-wearing-20-somethings with .45s in both their hands, it’s nice to see a movie with a middle-aged smart woman using her head. (OK, she still gets to resort to violence, but at that point in the film, it’s well deserved; and it’s not as if there still weren’t quite a few cleavage shots of Jodie, but at least it was natural.)
And as far as Blade 2 goes, no one who is even going to read a review about that movie gives a damn how well the director “immerses himself” in his style and substance. They want to know if Wesley Snipes (the only decent African-American action hero) kicks a lot of ass. And he does. I personally didn’t like the movie, and I knew it as soon as Wesley began his little narrative during the opening credits (along with close-ups of him “arming” himself with his gadgets and weapons). No—I repeat, no—movie should try so hard to be cool with its just plain stupid one-liners and how-many-gadgets-and-cool-looking-weapons-can-we-fit-into-one-movie sequences. It’s really too bad, because the plot wasn’t bad, the action is great and elaborate (although over-the-top, but what John Woo movie isn’t?), and the audience applauded. So if you liked the first one, by all means it’s worth seeing.
I guess when it comes down to it, I’d love to be a movie critic. (Did you pick up on that?) So it just irks me to no end when a critic doesn’t pay attention to the movie or her readers and just likes to sound smart and opinionated, when in fact most people have no idea what she’s talking about and don’t care.