In the New York Times, Sharon Waxman writes that as some early strong reviews of "Apocalypto" trickle in, Oscar consideration for the film "poses a problem for Hollywood insiders, many of whom would prefer to ignore Mr. Gibson entirely, despite his formal apology and a trip to rehab."
[C]an the 5,830 voting members of the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences â€” an organization that like broader Hollywood, includes many people who are Jewish â€” ignore a film that may well be considered by critics to be among the best of the year?
Murray Weissman, who has worked on Oscar campaigns for many years and is working for the Weinstein Company on its hopefuls this year, said some voters would not see the film on principle.
â€œThere is still a lot of resentment out there among the Academy members, certainly the Jewish group of them, over the incident,â€ he said. â€œThere are a lot of people who are very unforgiving. I have run into some who say they will not see any more Mel Gibson movies.â€
At the Guardian, Dan Glaister notes that:
Gibson and his advisers have chosen to mimic many of the lessons of The Passion in selling the new film, which is set against the disintegration of the Mayan empire in what is today Guatemala. While The Passion fostered audiences and built word of mouth support among Christian groups, the effort for Apocalypto has focused on forging ties with Native American and Latino groups.
"Dear Friends," began a letter from Gibson to members of the Los Angeles Latino Business Association, "Recently Latino leaders around the country were kind enough to attend a special screening of my new movie, Apocalypto. I am happy to say that their response was overwhelmingly positive."
But in the rush to reach a young Latino audience, it seems to have escaped the film’s makers that contemporary Guatemala has been plagued by racism directed against indigenous peoples.
Hyuck. We haven’t seen "Apocalypto" yet, but nothing we’ve read about it so far has given us any sense that it’s a serious Oscar contender. Many early remarks have instead centered on how splatter-happy the film is â€” Wesley Morris at the Boston Globe writes that "Having seen it, the word Oscar never crossed my mind; on several occasions, though, ‘eeewww’ did. Itâ€™s like ‘Aguirre Wrath of God’ with gore and quicker chase sequences." David Germain, in the AP review, declares that "Mel Gibson is master of the epic snuff film":
Was pre-Columbian Mayan society a savage place? Sure, at times.
Does Gibson need to repeatedly show us lopped-off heads bouncing like coconuts down the towering stairs of a pyramid to prove it? Not so much.
He also writes that "[i]f you’ve ever wanted to see a jaguar bite off a man’s face, this is your movie" â€” take the kiddies! We do wonder what, years from now, when the memories of rampant drunken anti-Semitism and "sugar tits" have faded, people will make of the directorial career of Mr. Gibson. Richard Schickel at Time writes that "Gibson is a primitive all right, but so were Cecil B. DeMille and D.W. Griffith, and somehow we survived their idiocies." Ouch…and yet this implies that Gibson’s films will in fact survive us, "The Passion" at the very least as a cultural landmark, "Braveheart" as some strange male equivalent of a chick flick. For us, though, Mel will always be Benjamin Martin, with his tricorn hat, running in slow motion and waving a fledgling American flag to rally the troops against the unreasonably evil English, before lowering that same flag and using it to gore a colonel’s horse. For America, folks. For America.
+ Praise for Gibson Film, Quandary for Oscar Voters (NY Times)
+ Apocalypto now: Gibson’s next big gamble (Guardian)
+ Quite sorry, come see my movie! (Boston Globe)
+ Review: Violent excess mars `Apocalypto’ (AP)
+ The Maya Are Us (Time)