Here’s a look at who’s been getting huffy about what lately:
The family of Col. Claus Schenk von Stauffenberg, the World War II hero who took part in a failed Hitler assassination attempt, is not happy that Tom Cruise will be playing their famed relative in a recently announced film to be directed by Bryan Singer. Via Allan Hall at The Scotsman:
Count Caspar Schenk von Stauffenberg, the soldier’s grandson, said: "I have nothing against him [Cruise] and can even separate his work from his beliefs in Scientology. But I and other family members are worried that the picture will be financed by the sect and be used to get across its propaganda. Unfortunately the family Stauffenberg can do nothing about this. My grandfather is a figure from history."
Gregg Goldstein at the Hollywood Reporter writes that fifteen suicide prevention groups are prepared to protest After Dark Films’ planned suicide-centric advertising for "Wristcutters: A Love Story." "Haha!" says After Dark Films. "Why do we need to advertise when suicide prevention groups will do it for us?" Except they do not, as they were recently forced to pull questionable advertising for Elisha Cuthbert torture vehicle "Captivity."
"Critics are supposed to share perspective on a work, to think critically," writes Lewis Beale at The Reeler:
Read some of the greats — Kael, Agee, Hoberman — and you realize they have a way of looking at things: a historical and cultural perspective that adds up to an aesthetic world view. They’re not reviewers; reviewers tell you what the movie’s about. Critics tell you what it means. Get the difference? Critics are not meant to be Masters of the Vox Populi, but people we read for intelligent, reasoned, probing analysis.
It’s a reaction to the apparently critic-proof successes "Wild Hogs," "300," et al., and the re-raised question of whether critics matter. Beale suggests that critics no longer bother with films like the ones mentioned: "you’d think a critic’s time would be better spent writing about deserving indies, thoughtful foreign releases or Hollywood flicks like Zodiac, with its passionate look at obsession and physical decline, that actually merit an essay." We discussed this model of criticism briefly during our SXSW Blogging on Film panel â€” some of our fellow bloggers have taken the approach of generally championing films they like and want to support, seeing negative reviews as a waste of time. It’s an approach we respect but don’t share â€” it’s also one we don’t see working for mainstream press. Beyond the fact that it would permanently relegate criticism to relative obscurity, it also presumes a certain stratification of "important cinema" that we find distasteful. Cinema is a populist art â€” some films offer considerably more depth than others, but it doesn’t mean that even the most idiotic of features doesn’t have cultural value, at least as a reflection of our time and place. As we pointed out before, "300" may be inane, but the analysis and discussion it’s sparked have been the most interesting of the young year.
Over at the Guardian film blog, Ronald Bergan suggests that a deterioration in film criticism has sprung from critics, in general, being undereducated. He provides his own list of minimum requirements of what every film critic should know. Also at the Guardian film blog, Michael White weighs in on the "300" uproar, writing that "It may be homoerotic camp, but 300 also strikes me as a dangerous piece of fantasy, a racist confrontation between the good guys (the west) and those nasty foreigners."
At the Observer, Barbara Ellen decries the representations of Beatrix Potter in "Miss Potter" and Jane Austen in the upcoming "Becoming Jane," writing that Hollywood has taken to "rebranding them (or should one say re-blanding?) as wispy, likable, ‘fragrant’ characters."
And an AP story notes that Disney is reconsidering a DVD release of its controversial and long hidden-away 1946 animated feature "Song of the South." The un-PC film is a holy grail for eBay trawling novelty-driven cinephile (though the out-of-print "SalÃ²" Criterion DVD tends to fetch higher prices). James Pappas, associate professor of African-American Studies at the University of New York at Buffalo, is quoted in the piece: "I think it’s important that these images are shown today so that especially young people can understand this historical context for some of the blatant stereotyping that’s done today."
+ Cruise’s anti-Nazi film role irks family (The Scotsman)
+ Groups protest ‘Wristcutters’ ads (Hollywood Reporter)
+ Stop the Presses (The Reeler)
+ What every film critic must know (Guardian Blog)
+ 300 is a dangerous piece of fantasy (Guardian)
+ Stop prettying up these great women (Observer)
+ ‘Song of the South’ release mulled despite possible controversy (USA Today)