Friday, October 09, 2009

Wait, I Think They're Talking about Me

One of my students made this discovery a few hours ago, and neither he nor I can quite believe it. In his case, because I think he's not used to seeing his professors quoted in relation to web-zine articles about Vince Vaughn. In my case, because I'm not used to seeing myself quoted anywhere, much less by people whom I've never met. But as Rotten Tomatoes counts down the ten-best reviewed movies that featured Vince in a major role, there I am, stumping as ever for The Cell. You'd think they'd have cited Mr. Ebert, since he also had the movie on his Top Ten list that year, and last time I checked, he was still somewhat better-known than I am, and his endorsements carried sway with a marginally larger group of people. But especially in the month of Halloween, and especially as I'm walking a fantastic crop of students through another modern masterpiece of this genre, I'm always glad to keep spreading the enthusiastic word about Tarsem's dazzling feature debut. I suppose it was never going to happen that my other favorite Vince Vaughn movie would qualify for this list, but at least Jeff Giles, the author of the Rotten Tomatoes piece, withstands the usual urge to take a drive-by swipe at it.

Happy Friday, Vince, and happy birthday to me!

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Blogger Andrew K. said...

Well you have more sway with me than Ebert.

2:21 PM, October 09, 2009  
Blogger Colin Low said...

I read through that blurb on The Cell and didn't notice you were quoted the first time through. I guess three simple adjectives in a row doesn't remind me much of your usual inspiring verbiage. ;)

10:22 PM, October 09, 2009  
Blogger Y Kant Goran Rite said...

I'm not sure if you're aware of this already, but the Australian edition of "The Book of Life" DVD quotes you quite prominently on the jacket for your 'everything with PJ Harvey is genius' comment.

I don't really know you, but even I was quite excited when I noticed that.

12:19 AM, October 10, 2009  
Blogger Glenn said...

That's very cool. You hold more sway with me than Ebert (these days, especially), even if he is my favourite "professional" critic.

Also, The Cell definitely belongs on any best of the '00s countdown.

3:28 AM, October 10, 2009  
Anonymous Robert Hamer said...

To be fair, you are on the official RT critic's roster and your reviews are counted on the Tomatometer (you should see some of the comments in response to your review of The Matrix), so why NOT cite you?

I must say, though, I never quite warmed up to the film the way you and Ebert and many others have. Sure, the visuals are stunning, but I found the performances stiff (D'Onofrio excepted), the story progression banal (Gee, the killer had an abusive father? What a shocking and revealing development!) and the final climax - where Catherine's mind was perfect and angelic - was complete rubbish.

Sure, it looked astonishing and had a cool premise, but The Cell needed a compelling narrative to back it up, and to me this is where the film fell apart. Even Tarsem finds faults with his directorial debut.

11:53 PM, October 10, 2009  
Blogger NicksFlickPicks said...

@AAE: Thanks for that!

@Colin: It's true that I'm barely recognizable when I'm being succinct. :)

@YKGR: Nice to hear from you again! And of course I'm beyond thrilled to hear about this Book of Life blurb, since you've been reading long enough that I'm guessing you must have caught wind of my PJ idolatry from more than just this DVD box. I have scoured the web for an image of the back cover of the Australian pressing, but to no avail. Must keep scouring!

@Glenn: Thanks to you, too! And I'm glad you're such a Cell fan; yours is company I like being in.

@Robert: Thank goodness I don't drive, or I'd forever by looking in my rearview mirror for Matrix fans, pulling up behind me and slamming their accelerators.

About those Cell scenes: I agree that the simplified "abuse" angle isn't the movie's strongest link, though the movie does make clear that Catherine defaults on her exploration before she's able to get further.... and speaking of that defaulting, as I suggest in my review, the fact that Catherine is a beatific savior in her own mind is actually quite terrifying to me and very shrewdly ironic, especially since she schizophrenically sees herself as an angel and a destroyer, and annihilates exactly the person she's meant to empathize with and learn something about. I take Catherine's ruinous if unwitting hypocrisy—which she clearly realizes, waking up weeping from this final sequence—to be pivotal to what The Cell is finally about, and it's a brave demystification of the sanctified heroine we might be tempted, generically, to perceive Catherine to be.

1:50 AM, October 11, 2009  
Blogger Glenn said...

I was just gonna say that her mind is perceived as angelic and nice but then she turns into a violent thug, which I think says so many things. Violence can create violence in the mind of perfectly innocent people. Carl's father made him violent, Carl makes Catherine violence. Anyone involved in this field day-in-day-out is sure to find violence lurking beneath their own surface. It's a vicious cycle.

6:32 PM, October 11, 2009  
Blogger Y Kant Goran Rite said...

Of course I know about [and heartily endorse] your PJ worship, but I remember being very disappointed that you were disappointed by White Chalk - I hope that's grown on you since!

As for the Book of Life jacket - I'll track it down one of these days and email you a scan.

12:25 AM, October 17, 2009  
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