Not Quite a Love Song for Justin Long

Not Quite a Love Song for Justin Long (photo)

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It’s the critic’s job to be honest and fearless. But it’s not always easy: just ask Movieline critic (and frequent IFC.com contributor) Michelle Orange. A few months ago, Michelle panned the romantic comedy “Going the Distance,” and in doing so she described one of the film’s stars, Justin Long, as “a milky, affectless mook with half-formed features and a first day of kindergarten haircut.” Ouch. But just because her honest opinion was an unflattering one didn’t mean she took pride in dishing it out. In an excellent piece on The Rumpus, Michelle, who is herself a fiction writer and knows what it’s like to have others critique your work, discusses the nature of negative criticism and her own conflicted feelings about having to put down the art of others:

“After filing the review my editor replied immediately, singling out that line for some editorial snaps. This had the opposite of its intended effect, and sent me wobbling. I lay awake that night, not wondering so much if I had been fair but if I could have found a way to be less glancing and harsh, or alternately if I have the stomach to be as unsparing as someone who considers themselves first and foremost a critic must be. Maybe if I’d had more time; maybe if I didn’t have to watch so many of these godawful movies; maybe if I hadn’t had to look at the Mac guy’s overdeveloped bare ass not once but twice.”

Witty negative criticism is part of the fun of reading movie reviews; unless, of course, you happen to be the target of that witty negative criticism. At least Justin Long had a sense of humor about it, reading Movieline’s “Going the Distance” review verbatim during his appearance on “Late Night With Jimmy Fallon.” But that didn’t make Michelle feel any better, and thus her fascinating article on The Rumpus. And guess who showed up in the comments to respond? Yep, the milky, affectless one himself, Justin Long. His lengthy, complimentary response read, in part:

“I have to say, I’m surprised by the amount of stock you seem to invest in my looks. I absolutely agree with you too, I’d be hard-pressed to hold a candle to even a fraction of Drew’s beauty – in my humble opinion, she’s the most beautiful girl in the world. Is that a message you want to proliferate though? That people of higher aesthetic echelons should stick to their own? Maybe you’re frustrated because it so rarely works the other way – I don’t remember the last time I was asked to accept a female romantic lead who was “punching above her weight class” – though it does happen…Regardless, I really meant what I said about your writing – I love film too and I love reading about it – so keep up the good work and I’ll try to pick better projects (though I did love filming that one) but short of some reconstructive surgery, unfortunately there’s nothing I can do about my mug (blame god and/or my parents on that one).”

We can debate whether or not the correct response to criticism is to lay a guilt trip on the writer another time. For now, let’s stick to the more pressing issue: the connection between writer and subject in the age of Internet criticism. It’s a topic that’s coming up with increasingly frequency lately: older critics accusing younger ones of palling around with directors at film festivals and slanting their writing accordingly, and directors taking to websites to defend their work anonymously. The distance between artist and critic has narrowed significantly. Is that a bad thing?

Only if the parties let it. Criticism works best in a vacuum, with the writers’ thoughts untainted by studio publicity freebies or dissenting voices from other critics or nagging worries that the director on the firing line dated your old roommate and word might get back to him about what you write. Still, this strange and brief encounter between Michelle Orange and Justin Long is actually a good example of how this thing should look. Long may have disagreed with Orange’s assessment of his performance (and his looks) but he’s willing to concede that she is entitled to it. Orange may have had some reservations about writing what she wrote, about bruising someone’s feelings, but she didn’t let them get in the way of honesty. If she starts pulling her punches the next time she’s assigned a Justin Long picture, or if he suddenly starts burning her picture in effigy the next time he’s on “Lopez Tonight,” then we’ve got problems.

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Millennial Wisdom

Charles Speaks For Us All

Get to know Charles, the social media whiz of Brockmire.

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He may be an unlikely radio producer Brockmire, but Charles is #1 when it comes to delivering quips that tie a nice little bow on the absurdity of any given situation.

Charles also perfectly captures the jaded outlook of Millennials. Or at least Millennials as mythologized by marketers and news idiots. You know who you are.

Played superbly by Tyrel Jackson Williams, Charles’s quippy nuggets target just about any subject matter, from entry-level jobs in social media (“I plan on getting some experience here, then moving to New York to finally start my life.”) to the ramifications of fictional celebrity hookups (“Drake and Taylor Swift are dating! Albums y’all!”). But where he really nails the whole Millennial POV thing is when he comments on America’s second favorite past-time after type II diabetes: baseball.

Here are a few pearls.

On Baseball’s Lasting Cultural Relevance

“Baseball’s one of those old-timey things you don’t need anymore. Like cursive. Or email.”

On The Dramatic Value Of Double-Headers

“The only thing dumber than playing two boring-ass baseball games in one day is putting a two-hour delay between the boring-ass games.”

On Sartorial Tradition

“Is dressing badly just a thing for baseball, because that would explain his jacket.”

On Baseball, In A Nutshell

“Baseball is a f-cked up sport, and I want you to know it.”

Learn more about Charles in the behind-the-scenes video below.

And if you were born before the late ’80s and want to know what the kids think about Baseball, watch Brockmire Wednesdays at 10P on IFC.

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Crown Jules

Amanda Peet FTW on Brockmire

Amanda Peet brings it on Brockmire Wednesday at 10P on IFC.

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GIFS via Giphy

On Brockmire, Jules is the unexpected yin to Jim Brockmire’s yang. Which is saying a lot, because Brockmire’s yang is way out there. Played by Amanda Peet, Jules is hard-drinking, truth-spewing, baseball-loving…everything Brockmire is, and perhaps what he never expected to encounter in another human.

“We’re the same level of functional alcoholic.”

But Jules takes that commonality and transforms it into something special: a new beginning. A new beginning for failing minor league baseball team “The Frackers”, who suddenly about-face into a winning streak; and a new beginning for Brockmire, whose life gets a jumpstart when Jules lures him back to baseball. As for herself, her unexpected connection with Brockmire gives her own life a surprising and much needed goose.

“You’re a Goddamn Disaster and you’re starting To look good to me.”

This palpable dynamic adds depth and complexity to the narrative and pushes the series far beyond expected comedy. See for yourself in this behind-the-scenes video (and brace yourself for a unforgettable description of Brockmire’s genitals)…

Want more about Amanda Peet? She’s all over the place, and has even penned a recent self-reflective piece in the New York Times.

And of course you can watch the Jim-Jules relationship hysterically unfold in new episodes of Brockmire, every Wednesday at 10PM on IFC.

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Draught Pick

Sam Adams “Keeps It Brockmire”

All New Brockmire airs Wednesdays at 10P on IFC.

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From baseball to beer, Jim Brockmire calls ’em like he sees ’em.


It’s no wonder at all, then, that Sam Adams would reach out to Brockmire to be their shockingly-honest (and inevitably short-term) new spokesperson. Unscripted and unrestrained, he’ll talk straight about Sam—and we’ll take his word. Check out this new testimonial for proof:

See more Brockmire Wednesdays at 10P on IFC, presented by Samuel Adams. Good f***** beer.

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