Monthly Archives: February 2006

Quote of The Day

Simon Dumenco of AdAge, in making a list of those who need to apologize:

Blockbuster — fresh in my mind because of its current TV commercial campaign — for continuing to market its online rental service as a better alternative to Netflix, when in fact Blockbuster routinely condescends to its customers by offering censored versions of films. Like, if you rent the indie classic Y tu Mam Tambin from Blockbusters in certain parts of the country, Gael Garcia Bernal and Diego Luna dont kiss at the end. I suppose that means that before Capote can hit Blockbusters shelves, Philip Seymour Hoffmans dialogue will be have to be redubbed by James Earl Jones.

Critical Mass

There was an interesting story last week– in the Duke student newspaper, of all places- summing up a new study which states that:

many film critics, faced with far too many movies to write about, tend to avoid writing reviews of bad films that theyve seen. At the same time, a few critics, faced with the same overwhelming choice, tend to avoid reviewing good movies that theyve watched.
As a result, moviegoers might infer the likely opinions of their favorite reviewers, even when those critics dont actually write about a movie. The study will appear in the June 2006 issue of the journal Quantitative Marketing & Economics.

As a critic, I can see how flawed this study seems. For one thing, most critics are constrained from reviewing every movie- either they must share the load with a colleague, or are otherwise limited to reviewing only one movie a week. Then there’s all the movies that aren’t reviewed because they’re not screened for critics.
In my case, I can tell you that the majority of my reviews are positive, because I’m allowed to choose which movies to see/review, and therefore I tend to avoid movies that I think I’m not going to like. The other dynamic at work is that it’s both a lot easier and a lot more fun to write negative reviews than positive ones, and it’s also more fun to read them. Roger Ebert’s popular book “I Hated, Hated, Hated This Movie” is Exhibit A in that respect- and speaking of Ebert, he wrote a letter to Romanesko, also taking issue with the study.

It’s Not Just Current Vikings Who Suffer Embarrassing Arrests

News Item: Hall of Famer Carl Eller Arrested for DUI
Speaking of Canton enshrinees, I briefly interviewed Steelers Hall of Famer-turned-gubernatorial candidate Lynn Swann at a fundraiser Sunday morning, and I wanted to rib him about his Steelers having won two Super Bowls against my Vikings in the ’70s. But I couldn’t find the right words, so I just asked him about the Dubai Ports World deal, or whether he’d read last week’s SI piece about his candidacy (he hadn’t.)

Truth Check

The Village Voice has a piece this week on the kooks who make up the “9/11 Truth Movement,” those who provide various conspiracy theories and other alternative histories to the “official version” of the events of the terror attack.
I’d been expecting a total puff piece, but reporter Jarrett Murphy does show some healthy skepticism. There are, after all, some howlers here- for instance, the idea that the planes that hit the towers were really a “hologram,” that the planes fired missiles immediately prior to impact, or (my personal favorite) that the attacks were part of “a plot to rid the world of 4 billion people in order to reduce demand for petroleum.” (Wouldn’t the death of 4 billion people cause the world economy to instantly collapse completely? That wouldn’t exactly be good for the oil companies, would it?)
The most unbelievable part of the 9/11 conspiracy theories, of course, is something I learned from my Brandeis professor Jerry Cohen: widespread conspiracy theories tend to be false, because the more time passes, the more likely it is that a co-conspirator will either make a mistake, or tell all. In the 9/11 “conspiracy,” neither ever happened. In fact, the “9/11 Truth” theories directly contradict the same people’s general opinion of the Bush Administration’s incompetence. If Bush and Co. are too stupid to handle Iraq, Hurricane Katrina, and everyone else, how were they able to pull off the 9/11 plot, with 100% success, with no leaks whatsoever in the ensuing five years?