Yet another sentence to ponder

by on March 4, 2009 at 4:47 pm in Film | Permalink

This one is from Anthony Lane, from his old review of Sin City:

We have, it is clear, reached the lively dead end of a process that was
initiated by a fretful Martin Scorsese and inflamed, with less
embarrassed glee, by Tarantino: the process of knowing everything about
violence and nothing about suffering.

Here is his current and very negative review of Watchmen (beware of spoilers!).

a reader March 4, 2009 at 5:15 pm

It sounds like if he read the comic few a couple more times and read up on the context of the comic-book industry at the time, he would almost realize that all his criticisms are exactly the point the book was making in the first place!

And of course I love the jabs about how comic book fans must be afraid of girls &c… says more about the manly-men writing New Yorker movie reviews, I think.

Anonymous March 4, 2009 at 5:54 pm

i’m pretty sure no one eighteen and younger knows what the warren commission is.

Iainuki March 4, 2009 at 6:45 pm

Is it possible for that critic to look down his nose at Watchmen and graphic novels any harder? Likewise, some of the commenters here.

nobody March 4, 2009 at 7:15 pm

I bet if van mises wrote it you’d be all over it

Franklin Harris March 4, 2009 at 7:37 pm

It may indeed be the case that the movie sucks, but Anthony Lane has totally missed the point here.

Michael Foody March 4, 2009 at 7:53 pm

I want to make it clear that I don’t think that there is anything about the medium of a comic book that makes it childish. My point was that the watchmen in particular was a send up of superhero comics that were at the time and for the most part still are written for children.

notsneaky March 4, 2009 at 7:58 pm

Well, some comic books are not for kids (and saying so just displays one’s ignorance) but even if that were true so what? “Three Musketeers” is “for kids” but it’s still great literature, much much better than a lot of stuff that’s “for adults”. Same goes for plenty other works. It’s a stupid argument to make.

Having said that I want to note that V for Vendetta sucked as a comic book and sucked even more as a movie and based on that I have some serious doubts about the Watchmen (both the movie and the comic book). Sin City had good art and mediocre writing and I think Lane’s right in his review of it.

I also like how Daniel Clowes (was “Ghost World” for kids?) has made fun of people who insist on saying “graphic novel” as opposed to “comic book” as being nothing but pretentious assholes.

Blackadder March 4, 2009 at 8:54 pm

Goode played Charles Ryder in last year’s “Brideshead Revisited,† and I fear that, even as Ozymandias murders millions from his Antarctic lair, which he does at the climax of “Watchmen,† Goode’s floppy blond locks and swallowed consonants remain those of a young gadabout who might, at worst, twist the leg off his Teddy bear.

Charles Ryder didn’t have a Teddy bear. That was Sebastian Flyte. The man obviously doesn’t know what he’s talking about. J’accuse!

notsneaky March 4, 2009 at 10:18 pm

Yup. Better than a lot of stuff that passes for “Great Literature”.

Ian March 5, 2009 at 12:00 am

He’s clearly not against graphic novels in general, as he mention a couple he thinks are “masterwork.” He does seem biased against superheroes, which is more defensible. Yes, Watchmen and The Dark Knight Returns are literary (as is Three Musketeers!), but what other superhero graphic novels aim that high?

Lane’s given us a negative review of Watchmen the movie, and of superhero movies more generally. On most points, he’s right. Movies can’t pack much into a short running time, so multi-hero movies tend to do poorly at character development. He’s made a case that the musical choices in Watchmen are ill-advised, and that the clever treatment of history in the book translated poorly to the screen. Worst, it sounds as though the subtlety of the graphic novel has been bludgeoned away, leaving us with something unpleasantly adolescent.

My conclusion: people who insist on having words and images spoon-fed to them in a movie theatre are illiterates — go read the graphic novel.

jason voorhees March 5, 2009 at 6:57 am

The only review that matters is Ebert, and he gave it four stars. I can now rest and see the movie tomorrow at Imax.

I strongly encourage all who think comics are idiotic to read Scott McCloud’s _Understanding Comics_.

Nat Almirall March 5, 2009 at 9:10 am

Lane’s major criticism seems to be that the film is too stylized to be taken seriously, and, as much as I’m hoping to like Watchmen, I’m worried that he’s probably right.

The marketing of the film seems to concentrate solely on the visuals and the fact that Snyder directed 300, which makes those of us who read and enjoyed the depth of Moore’s book cringe. Likewise, in response to Ebert’s four-star review, he’s been taken in by visuals before with movies like The Cell and Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within, which didn’t offer much else. Then again, only the first and second paragraphs of his review address the visuals, the rest covers plot and character.

But of course, we can’t make the judgment until we see the movie. And to the people who thumb their noses toward comics: After 5,000+ years of culture and the same criticism being leveled against theater, music, novels, cinema, and everything in between, how can you be so certain that a specific medium is incapable of art?

clinton March 5, 2009 at 10:04 am

Tom, yes, I now see it was. It was that view that I’d found so silly in other comments. Apologies to John

Michael Drake March 5, 2009 at 3:22 pm

I’m pretty sure we’re currently engaged in the process of knowing something about suffering.

Ted Craig March 6, 2009 at 11:05 am

I am among those who anxiously awaited the latest chapter of Watchmen each month and I shall be joining Alan Moore in not watching the movie this weekend (I’ll skip on the snake god worship, however). The problem I have with what I’ve seen on the adaptation is Zak Snyder has too slavishly followed the comic rather than making a movie based on the comic. Watchmen was fairly low-key compared to the other material of the time. The film will seem bombastic because Snyder failed to translate the comic into cinema. He needed to turn down the volume a notch. But from what I’ve seen of his other work, I’m not sure that’s something Snyder is capable of doing.

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