22 April 2010

Ebert, The Losers and Kick-Ass

Threat Quality Press | Jeff Holland | No, Roger Ebert will tell YOU what’s art!

Damn, Roger Ebert. [...] And yet, every time he opens his mouth (so to speak) in any fashion regarding comic books or video games, I have to remember that he is an old, old man, and he will not consider things like “comics” or “video games” or “Things that were invented after the 1970s” as ever being art.

So, when I see this opening line (from his positive review of “The Losers,” out tomorrow)
“‘The Losers’ is a classical action movie based on a comic strip. It does just enough nodding toward the graphics of drawn superheroes, and then gets that out of the way and settles down into a clean, efficient and entertaining thriller.”
It actually makes me consider lightly slapping an old, infirm, jawless man I admire in the face. Because there’s no reason for the derisive, dismissive attitude. Calling it a comic “strip” when you know damn well there’s enough info in the press pack to explain otherwise (just as a short story isn’t a novel, a comic strip isn’t the same as a comic book); referencing “graphics of drawn superheroes” in a military thriller that has no superheroes, and then “gets that out of the way” so it can be a real movie…
The double irony is that Jock's art for The Losers is very explicitly based on the cinematography of action movies (see for instance, iFanboy Episode 159) so to say that the cinematography of the movie is based on the "graphics of drawn superheroes" really doesn't make any sense.

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I like Holland's conclusion as well:
So. Ebert. Perhaps a deal is in order: I will accept your right to give good reviews to clearly awful movies like the “Death at a Funeral” remake and “Avatar,” and YOU can stop making judgments about media you don’t really understand.
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Dale Cooper took down Ebert for his but what about the children?!?! review of last week's big comic book movie, Kick-Ass. Now admittedly, it's difficult to write criticism of art works which are examples of the things they're commenting on, like Hot Fuzz and Shaun of the Dead and Kick-Ass. (If memory serves, Colin Marshall discussed this last week as it applied to Haneke's Funny Games.) That sort of self-reflexivity is tricky to address. But Ebert doesn't even try.

The entire premise of the story is that a kid is influenced by superhero stories and tries to act out what's he's seen and read in his real life.  Ebert responds to that with "what if kids see this movie and then go out and try to act it out in real life that would be a tragedy ohmygoddosomethingcolumbinewaaaaaaaaaaaa!" which is simultaneously boring, wrong and insulting.

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