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Under the Fold:

A Tale of Two Critics

 

Ahem...

Yeah, I know it's been a while. To the whole twenty people who have at some point checked this site regularly, an explanation is in order.

You see, I'm not really a film critic. (That's probably a good thing, considering what beef I have with so many of them.) I'm a lot of ordinary, run-of-the-mill things, and among those things I'm an aspiring writer. As such, I had no idea how frustrating it'd be to critique film after film while my own screenplay concepts remain idle and incomplete. So, I stopped.

If you've read my Dirty Pretty Things review, though, you know I haven't stopped completely, and I won't. It is fun to speak my mind about a movie, especially when there's something important to say. I'm also proud of the work Zac, Dante, the team and I have poured into this site. So, I'm going to keep Smart-Popcorn.com running indefinitely. As I feel like adding a review, I will, and the same goes for my column. Hopefully, either time or opportunity will bring me renewed interest in expanding the site. Regardless, to the age old question, "Is this thing on?", the answer is yes.

But enough about me, there are near-famous people to talk about! Yes, grrr... Those critics.

I still have my sites set on Bill Muller, the regular film critic for the Arizona Republic. The guy just hates movies, it's as simple as that. His ratings (on the typical five-star system) are reasonable, but every word of his written reviews range from "pessimistic" to "indifferent". The concept of "complimentary" is a speck-sized light at the end of a long, long tunnel. Add to that the fact that he's inaccessable and arrogant toward young writers in the valley (in all accounts I've heard, and my own experience)... He just shouldn't be the Phoenix community's voice to the nation when it comes to film critique. It's misrepresentation.

Due to said inaccessibility, there's nothing new to report on; this is old news. Fortunately, I learned that he is not the president of the local film critics society as I'd been led to believe, so if I wish to pursue some legitimacy for the site, I can bypass him entirely.

Case B: Anderson Jones of E! Online, who's more columnist than critic, but he certainly likes to criticize. I must admit that some of my disdain for E! seeps from my opinions of Entertainment Weekly's movie critic, and while it is easy to lump all the 'E' and 'EW' sort of publications together, they are seperate entities and should be treated as such. Anyhow, Andy Jones has been on the warpath recently with Kevin Smith, or more accurately, the Smith fanboys, over some bum opinions and factual inaccuracies in Jones' reporting of the director. (It's a long story... If you wish to know, check News Askew and the E! Movie Scoop to catch up.) Well, Mr. Jones' e-mail address was made very accessible during this fiasco, and as I'm always one to speak my mind, I sent the following e-mail to him:

Andy,


While I'm not a religious devotee of Kevin Smith's work,
nor the type that trolls his (or his fans') websites
nightly, I am a fan of his work, which you, as has been
made so obviously clear on both sides of the battle, are
not.

What I would like to know is this: if you consider Smith's
work little more than "masturbatory and narcissistic", and
you believe his fanbase is so miniscule as to hyperbolize
as a number in the four-hundreds, why do you feel it's so
important to report on him or his work in the first place?
Why, especially, would you feel the need to "start a Holy
war" with him?

How does that old line go? "If you don't have anything
good to say..."

If fame and reputation come so simply by belittling the
mediocre acts of others, I believe I'll create a website
devoted to the sole purpose of trashing your columns or
reviews. It would be quite easy, after all. But then
again, I don't know anybody who actually takes your work
seriously--save for the disgruntled fans of those you
slander.

- Thom Stricklin, Owner & Critic
http://www.smart-popcorn.com


Amazingly, within two hours, I got a response. I'll respect Jones' privacy (in the event he might care) and won't publish his response. However, I must say, he managed to fill it with equal parts biting sarcasm, wit, and tact. (Perhaps he appreciated an e-mail more civil than "F*CK YOU UP YOUR STUPID ASS!", which I'm sure he got plenty of.) He did help me to realize that the whole issue has been taken way too seriously... (As if I would do that? Oh wait, yep.) ...and he actually provided me with a few laughs, even if they were somewhat at my expense.

I replied in a pseudo-apologetic manner (as a man must stand his ground) and let him know that, believe it or not, he'd gained my respect. For a guy who's an important part of one of the nation's biggest entertainment publications and websites, and a guy who's probably receiving a thousand angry-Smith-fan letters a day, I was very impressed that he even gave me the time of day. I'm not entirely sure he cares one bit what you or I think of him, but he gave my letter a fair shot, so he deserves the same. You should check out his column, Movie Scoop. It's not bad, not nearly as bad as I remembered the E! site being.

And I'm sure he'll appreciate the dozen extra visits this article might send to his massive website, one that generates millions of hits a day. He was nice enough to rub that fact in my face--his website is more popular than mine. Hitting below the belt, Andy.

P.S.: If he happens to read this, I'd like to hear an industy-man's opinion on the Smart-Popcorn.com concept... Not our reviews or Dante's (potty-mouthed) articles, but the two-scale ratings system. Bad or good, I'd love to hear something more than, "Eh?" thom@smart-popcorn.com

Author: Thom Stricklin 1014 Words Published: 10 September 2003
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