Gelf Magazine - Looking over the overlooked

The Blurbs

February 13, 2010

'Flimsy' 'When in Rome' Is 'Entirely Predictable'

In this week's edition of The Blurbs—the feature in which we take a close look at those critic blurbs that are a fixture of ads for movies—see breakdowns of ads for 'When in Rome,' 'From Paris with Love,' 'Barefoot to Timbuktu,' and more.

David Goldenberg

The critic blurb is a staple of arts advertising. Yet if you look behind some blurbs, you'll find quotes out of context, quote whores, and other questionable ad practices. Blurb Racket exposes the truth behind critics blurbs in movie ads from the New York Times. Movie titles link to, which compiles movie reviews in a far-more honest way than do movie ads. See the inaugural Blurb Racket column for background and useful links, and find out what critics think of the racket.

"Ultimately a trifle but with little competition in the genre it serves as a great date movie for the new year."—Boxoffice Magazine's Pete Hammond on When in Rome

When in Rome (Touchstone)
Metacritic Score: 25

Pete Hammond, Boxoffice Magazine: "Entertaining and full of laughs."
Actual line: "When in Rome is a romantic comedy marketed as a product of 'the studio that brought you The Proposal.' Disney's Touchstone label is trying to strike lightning in a bottle again and imitate the success of Sandra Bullock's summer hit. Although it falls short of that goal, When In Rome is entertaining, full of laughs and, as far as chick flicks go, is a sweet, romantic trip worth taking for audiences so inclined."
Not quoted: "… the film should land a decent, if not 'magic' amount of coins at the box office … The flimsy, whimsical plot follows an entirely predictable path … although all are over the top eventually they come to be a likeable group of shlubs … ultimately a trifle but with little competition in the genre it serves as a great date movie for the new year."

From Paris with Love
From Paris with Love (Lionsgate)
Metacritic Score: 42

Dan Deevy, "Explosive, gripping, and tons of fun! The first great action film of the year!"
Actual line: "It's a fast paced, exciting thrill ride with some real nail biting moments … the action is fantastic and the story is engaging making this movie a lot of fun to watch. It's not the best action film ever made, but it's not trying to be either. … it is definitely the best action movie of the year so far …"
Not quoted: "Unfortunately, I wasn't as taken with this film as I was with his previous effort. (pun definitely intended) … I just didn't feel as enveloped by the scenario as I did with Taken. It doesn't have me leaping out of my seat proclaiming that everyone must go see this film … I wish I had just as many nice things to say about Jonathan Rhys Meyers because I think he's a wonderful actor and I've enjoyed him in many things, but I feel like he was miscast here."
Those actual lines were the closest to the blurb that could be found. For taking great liberties with words from this amateurish, favorable review, this ad wins Gelf's Bogus Blurb of the Week Award.

Barefoot to Timbuktu
Barefoot to Timbuktu (Meschugge)
Metacritic Score: 42

Edward Douglas, "Fascinating! Pick of the week! A gorgeous film … inspiring."
Actual line: "This week's 'Chosen One' is Barefoot to Timbuktu … For the most part, this is the type of documentary that probably will be undervalued because it doesn't really cover a subject matter that any of us might immediately be able to relate to or think might be of interest (like me) but in fact, it's a gorgeous film about a man who made efforts to cross a cultural divide and help elevate these primitive people, and his return is somewhat bittersweet seeing how much of his work was destroyed by the rebels. Who knows how many people know who [Ernst] Aebi is or about his selfless efforts he put into making the world a better place starting with this primitive village, but it's inspiring to watch and [director] Martina Egl has done a good job finding an inventively artistic way of telling his story."
Not quoted: "Egi's film does cover a lot of ground, showing Aebi walking around in different locations, clearly someone who doesn't like remaining in one place for very long, but it does get somewhat disjointed as it keeps jumping back to telling Aebi's backstory via interviews with his brothers and children, and some parts of the movie, like the tangent involving his daughter sailing around the world, takes the focus away from the central story, which is that of Araoaune. It's somewhat of a shame that we only get about ten to fifteen minutes of Aebi returning to the village and seeing how it had deteriorated since his visit, and there really isn't very much time spent explaining why the people hadn't learned enough to try and rebuild. There also isn't much resolution to the story or anything about whether Aebi planned on staying and trying to help them again."

Craig Younkin, Screen Comment: "A full life well worth getting to know."
Actual line: "The documentary has very few moments of obstacles or conflict during the upheaval of the settlement and seems somewhat padded (maybe a '60 Minutes' segment would be a more apt medium for this story than an hour and a half documentary), but what keeps it going is this man's spirit, determination, and caring for the people he has come in contact with. It's a full-life well worth getting to know."

Ajami (Kino International)
Metacritic Score: 83

A.O. Scott, New York Times: "Extraordinary immediacy… acutely insightful…"
Not quoted: "… the plot resolves a bit too neatly and abruptly is a small disappointment… You emerge from 'Ajami' moved and also a little worn out …"

Ella Taylor, Village Voice: "An enormously important film… A contemporary crime drama edged with Greek tragedy … teems with life …"
Not quoted: "… its unwieldy cast and multiple storylines might better lend themselves to a television series … Barely held together by chapter headings … may have bitten off more than a foreign audience can chew. That fact works its own sadly ironic magic—you can't tell one kind of Semite protagonist from another just by looking."

Ran (Winstar)
Metacritic Score: 90

New York Times: "Spectacular! Among the most thrilling movie experiences a viewer can have!"
Actual line: "The great jidai-geki are all represented in the Film Forum series, which ends with a two-week run of [director Akira] Kurosawa's spectacular 1985 'King Lear' adaptation, 'Ran,' and they are among the most thrilling movie experiences a viewer can have."
That quote was meant to describe all of Kurosawa's historical films playing in the Film Forum retrospective, not just Ran.

To Die for Tano
To Die for Tano (Leisure Time)
Metacritic Score: 43 "An outrageous musical comedy!"
Gelf couldn't find the line in question. In her Times review, Jeannette Catsoulis called the film, "a bizarre musical comedy in which, amazingly, the actual severed swordfish heads are not the ugliest things on screen." She added, "An inexplicable multiple award winner, 'To Die for Tano' left me more perplexed than pleased."

North Face
North Face (Music Box)
Metacritic Score: 66

Stephen Holden, New York Times: "Transfixing."
Not quoted: "It is the film's more mundane elements—an awkward, under-nourished love story and half-baked politics—that are problematic. … The film's underdeveloped subplots are really afterthoughts in a movie that doesn't need them."

David Goldenberg

David Goldenberg is the co-founder and editor of Gelf, and the host of Geeking Out, Gelf's monthly science speaking series.

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Article by David Goldenberg

David Goldenberg is the co-founder and editor of Gelf, and the host of Geeking Out, Gelf's monthly science speaking series.

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