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MARK JENKINS HAS ONE and a half things right about Apollo 13 (Film, 7/7): The strongest characterization was that of Mattingly, and the weakest part of the film was the editing. The rest of his verbiage boils down to: He doesn’t like the evocation of the ’70s. I’m not thrilled by it either, Mr. Jenkins, but the story takes place in 1970. Do you remember the godawful TV special called Houston, We Have a Problem that aired not long after Apollo 13‘s mission? The one where the mission was a backdrop to somebody’s marriage going on the rocks? That’s the ’70s notion of human interest; that’s what the ’70s were like.
If Jenkins does not like “functional, earnest docudramas,” that is of course his privilege. If he does not like historical fiction that tries to evoke the period, that too is entirely up to him. Some of us do enjoy both—and all we get from his review of Apollo 13 is that 1.) it hurts him to admit that a functional docudrama is effective, and 2.) his opinion on historical docudramas is worthless to us. Why not give us real information, say, something on the order of: “Photography and effects good (though IMAX it ain’t), editing extremely choppy, characterization pure ’70s”—and then go on with personal reactions? That way, we might even be interested.