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August 13, 2007 - Image 34

Resource type:
Michigan Daily Summer Weekly, 2007-08-13

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22 The Michigan Daily - Orientation Edition 2007


Mar. 29, 2007 - When I first saw
the trailer for "300," I knew I was in
I had no idea the same shot of
shouting half-naked men recut from
a dozen different angles could be so
gripping. At one particularly vulner-
able moment I even tried to find the
metal soundtrack on iTunes.
"300" is totally enthralling as a
three-minute clip, but from the first
time I saw that preview, I suspected
I would hate the movie. It's not cus-
tomarily a good sign when a trailer
doesn't see fit to include dialogue
from the movie it's created to adver-
tise, and I have seen enough digital
filmmaking to know that pretty pic-
tures can only get you so far.
But a trailer this electric was
going to make this the fanboy event
of the year. "300" was going to be
huge, and every time I would try to
talk about it, I would get the same
sigh, the same exasperated scold
reminding me that I am a purist
toad and that the American mov-

iegoer had overruled me with his
I met with some reluctance a
request from this paper's film editor
that I write a dueling review with
him on "300" to contrast with his
hyper-excited response. I agreed,
though I predicted that like our
fabled Spartans, I was fighting a los-
ing battle.
The reviews, appropriately titled
"There will be blood," got linked
somewhere on the Web and sud-
denly got thousands of hits, and
sure enough, most readers were not
exactly appreciative of my take. (My
favorite: "I know Sparta. And you sir
are no Spartan.")
Yet there was one point buried in
the debate that I totally resent. It's
an argument against criticism that
is always brought up when a critic
slams a popular work, and this time
it was even echoed in my colleague's
review: "300" was not made for crit-
ics, my detractors reasoned. It was
made for the fans.
This response comes up constant-
ly, and it spans mediums - we're not
just.talking about film here but also
popular music and escapist televi-

sion. Last July A.O. Scott, the chief ies, I was just happy to be part of the
film critic for the New York Times, experience
wrote on the backlash to his nega- It's true that criticism of all enter-
tive review of "Pirates of the Carib- tainments is inherently intended to
bean: Dead Man's Chest" that at the guide public perception. For me
end of the day, professional film crit- reviews are the beginning of a dis-
ics are in this business for viewers cussion. They serve to give you an
like you. I think he was right, but he alternate perspective. When I write
didn't go quite far enough. a review, I'm not trying to keep you
Too often when I try to discuss a from forming your own. I've noticed
movie, people tell me they "don'tlook that people don't respond when they
at movies to be deep." These days agree, they respond when they dis-
it's a chore to get people to watch agree, and usually they don't take my
anything other than "Office Space" opinion to task so much
and "Fight as tell meto shut up. I
Club" with invite response and
oue because argument. Work-
they're afraid ing at a newspaperW
I'm going to have gives some people
an opinion. a more prominent
I don't have supe- soapbox to offer
rior training to you. opinions than a
I just grew up on mov- living room on
ies and love to talk about
them. There is nothing better
than going to a movie Friday night,
and I'm not just talking about "The K
Queen" and "The Lives of Others." I
lined up for "300" and "Night at the
Museum" like everyone else, and
Courtesy o
whatever my opinion of the mov-wa,,R

a Saturday night, but that hardly
means you can't respond. If no one
else is listening, Iam.
This is why critics like Roger
Ebert are so popular - he has a col-
umn he devotes entirely to talking
with his readers. A.O. Scott's review
of "Epic Movie" earlier this year was
grateful and amused; he regarded
the movie as he imagined an aver-
age reader might. On the Internet
there are countless "critics," many
self-appointed fans, who approach
entertainment from all different
angles. You can find at least one
who suits you.
So the next time you open the
Daily and are about to flip past
another one-star review, stop
and give ita shot. There is a per-
son behind it, and I bet you
can relate to them more



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