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Letters to the Editor

Woody wagon

Robert Oxford June 22nd, 2011

After reading Rod Lott’s review of Woody Allen’s “Midnight in Paris” (“Wood repair,” June 8, Gazette), I was puzzled: Normally, film critics focus on the whole of the work, examining it formally as well as contextually.

Instead, Mr. Lott appears to have phoned in a meta-review, a review of a review.

Less of an examination of the film itself, Mr. Lott chose to devote much of his column for lobbing thinly veiled barbs in the form of unsourced reviews, generalizations and his own insecurities about Mr. Allen, his reputation and his previous work as the barometer for his “review.” Mr. Lott decides to compare the apples of Mr. Allen’s previous works (“Manhattan” exclusively, which was released during the Carter administration), to the orange of his most recent picture.

His opinion turns spiteful and vague, not approving or denouncing a director whom be believes is “oft-overrated.” Becoming ever more circumspect, Mr. Lott’s opinions near the quality of those currently waged via online message boards.

To compare “Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure” and “Midnight in Paris” is ridiculous, pseudo-pop-culture elitism. Your straw man, Mr. Lott, only serves your half-baked notion that the two films are “essentially” the same thing. Reductio ad absurdum vis-à-vis a Keanu Reeves film is unbecoming. To his credit, Mr. Lott is right to complain that there are some who worship at the altar of Allen (namely the French).

Nevertheless, Mr. Lott is more obsessed with snidely attacking the cult of Allen than giving any real critique of the film that he allegedly viewed. Worse, Mr. Lott considers filmgoers as a monolith and easily marginalized, effectively elevating the already highbrow nature of Allen’s work (e.g.: “Everything You Wanted To Know About Sex”? “Bananas”? “Scoop”?) to write off the entire film. Atop his populist high-horse, Mr. Lott prefers the safety of attacking audiences, “the ones who wish the rest of the theater to believe them of superior intelligence,” as a last-ditch effort to implicate the film for its “gimmickry” and to avoid making any real critique of the film itself. So leave it to the self-absorbed and Allen-esque insecure “critic” to voice his ambivalence for wellcrafted films.

Allen consistently uses the best cinematographers, actors and editors. Yet, Mr. Lott makes no mention of the technical prowess on display in “Midnight in Paris” besides his mindless tropes, irrelevant allusions to pre-existing work and his delusional disapproval of audiences who may prefer movies without superheroes or special glasses. It seems as though Mr. Lott was looking for a smoking gun of cinematic elitism, to make his poorly lettered indictment of a latter-day artist, but sadly could not find one.

—Robert Oxford
Oklahoma City
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06.22.2011 at 07:43 Reply

Film critics are a friend to no one.  Their name implies that they are critical, and so it goes without saying that most go into a movie looking for flaws.  When I have interest in a film I open the “Movies” app on my phone and check the reviews.  Critics typically pan most of what interests me, but the fans are the ones I really listen to. 

I don’t know about you, but I rarely walking a theater seeking some kind of existential journey, I’m there for a good experience.  Critics on the other hand over analyze things and search for meaning and substance where there’s none to be found.  In my opinion that’s why their reviews are so inflammatory.  Take Green Lantern for example, would you accept the view of a critic over that of a fanboy who has read every single issue of the comic?  If I want to hear fair criticism, I’ll take that of someone who has an extensive interest in the source material, over someone who walks in and jots down a couple of details.

You sound like an avid Woody Allen fan, and that might mean you have a lot to base your judgment on.  But it also might imply significant bias as well.  Perhaps the best person to review this movie would be someone who had not idea who Woody Allen even was.

Personally I’ve seen enough Woody Allen movies to know I hate him, and that’s the only criticism I need to keep me away from Midnight in Paris.


06.22.2011 at 08:33 Reply

I don't think we read the same review. He said the two films essentially did the same thing, not are the same thing -- there's a difference.

He also did comment on the technical in the opening montage. He also compared that montage with the Manhattan montage -- not the whole movie to Manhattan. So you misread that. 

He also didn't "write off the entire film" -- it read like a mixed review -- he called it "decent". 

Oh and "Reductio ad absurdum vis-a-vis"? You sound like the self-absorbed one.