RON WELLS AND KEVIN SMITH STRIKE BACK – AT EACH OTHER! (Episode III)

EPISODE III: THE FANBOY MENACE ^ What the hell happened here? Why are we all fighting and posturing at one another? WHY CAN’T WE ALL JUST GET ALONG? The big irony here is how much Kevin Smith, Film Threat big cheese Chris Gore, and I have in common. We’re all way too much alike. We’re all white Gen-X’er’s in our 30′s. We’re all married (to wives often described as “long-suffering”). We were all raised in middle to lower-middle class families. Whether it was New Jersey (Smith), Michigan (Gore), or West Virginia (me), none of us grew up anywhere near Hollywood, but now have homes in or near the cursed place. We’re all deeply into film AND comics. Kevin actually owns a comic book shop and, until a few years ago, my family did too. We’re all far more likely to be listening to Modest Mouse than anything currently N’Stinking up the pop charts. Smith used to have a great relationship with the print version of Film Threat (and its grossly underpaid editors) from the inspiration to do Clerks, right up until the mag co-sponsored the premiere to Mallrats (Even I was there). To this day, one of the director’s best friends, Malcolm Ingram, is a former Film Threat writer from those days. Shit, who started all this sniping and backbiting, anyway? ^ Oh, wait. I suppose I did. Now that we’re on the subject of me, why exactly do I go off on filmmakers and their hellspawn? Why do I review films anyway? (Kevin Smith, take good notes here and you might have better material with which to greet me next time.) ^ This may sound goofy, but whatever convoluted path I took to Film Threat and my friendship with Chris Gore, I write out of my love for the movies. Believe me, it’s not for the money (we long ago spent that on hookers and a big-screen TV). There was a time when I used to pound out pieces in 15 minutes while I was loaded (see my Winter Guest review), but in the last couple of years nearly everything I’ve done seemed to become a term paper (granted, an ANGRY term paper). You only put that kind of time an effort into something when you care about it. Of course, it’s when you give a shit about something that you become angry when it doesn’t work. I just happen to have a vast reservoir of anger. ^ Now don’t get me wrong, I don’t pull out the big carving knives for just anyone who stops by. There are basically three reasons why (in a review, at least) I would go for a filmmaker’s throat:
1. I’M ACTUALLY OFFENDED ^ This is rare, and as much about context as content. Most acts, in and of themselves, don’t necessarily offend me when portrayed on the big screen. The attitude displayed by the film’s authors usually determine that. The notorious “I Spit On Your Grave” contains one of the most psychologically brutal rape sequences ever committed to celluloid, but it’s there to justify the equally brutal revenge extracted throughout the final act of the story. On the other hand, the disturbing rape scene in “Street Trash” is sort of treated as a joke while the one in The General’s Daughter is completely unnecessary after every detail had already been dissected in the film.
2. A CORRECTION IN PUBLIC OPINION ^ Hey, somebody’s got to point out the emperor is buck-naked. Most of the spineless trolls of the justly derided entertainment press have been beaten down by the industry until they’re too frightened to voice a dissenting or heaven-forbid “controversial” opinion. Hell, even I think I’m occasionally talking out of my ass (see my Bamboozled review). I’d just rather discuss head-on a movie’s depiction of racism, religion (yeah, that Dogma review again), a specific subculture (my review of 8MM), or the disabled (my review of The Other Sister), than bullshit about the chemistry some poor schmuck has with Julia Roberts. Sure, I get loads of hate mail, even death threats. Try publicly dumping on a Holocaust movie (my infamous review of Life is Beautiful) and see where that gets you. All that does is egg me on. Hey, if I’m wrong, you can prove it without getting worked up. If the only response you have for me is emotional, then you’ve already admitted that I win.
3. SOMEBODY COULD HAVE DONE MUCH, MUCH BETTER ^ Most movies are bad. Many of those were always going to be bad. Others, though, had a chance until they were botched. Maybe the wrong actor was cast in one of the leads. Maybe the director isn’t capable of weeding out the bad ideas from his/her “vision.” Still, with any waste of film stock, someone must have done a bad job. ^ Now let me admit to some bias. When a first-time, under-funded, or fairly inexperienced team puts together a flawed movie, I usually softball the review to some degree. I know what it’s like to learn how to do something as you go along and it sucks. All I can offer on my end is some slack in judging the end product. It’s a whole different ballgame for the more experienced helmers with professional crews and studio money. Even if you’re never going to be any good at something like shot composition, you can hire a director of photography who’ll cover your ass. You see, it’s one thing to screw-up when you don’t yet really know any better. It’s another when you really should know better.
Get the whole story in the next chapter EPISODE IV: CAP’N RON STRIKES BACK>>>




Posted on August 19, 2001 in Features by
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