Gelf Magazine - Looking over the overlooked

The Blurbs

February 9, 2007

'Perhaps Twenty Minutes Too Long'

In this week's edition of Blurb Racket—the Gelf feature in which we take a close look at those critic blurbs that are a fixture of ads for movies—see breakdowns of blurbs for Hannibal Rising, Factory Girl, Operation Homecoming, 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 metacritic.com, 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.

Graphic created by Paul Antonson
"And the kindest thing to be said about this deluxe photo spread of a film is that Sienna Miller's Edie and Guy Pearce's Andy capture their characters' images and body language with relative precision."—Stephen Holden of the New York Times on Factory Girl.

Graphic created by Paul Antonson

Hannibal Rising (MGM)

Pete Hammond, Maxim: "The new year's most terrifying thriller. An absolute shocker in every way imaginable."
Actual line: "It's probably not an understatement to say that Hannibal Rising is the most terrifying movie of the new year."
The new year is now all of forty days old.

Mark Beirne, Yourmovies.com: "Riveting from start to finish. Hannibal Lecter is back!"
Not quoted: "The film is not without its faults. An early sequence in which Murasaki trains Hannibal in the ways of the samurai plays like a weak rip-off from Batman Begins, and the film is perhaps 20 minutes too long."

Curse of the Golden Flower (Sony Pictures Classics)
Pete Hammond, Maxim: "Eye-popping!"
Not quoted: "Curse doesn't quite achieve the brilliance of Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon…"

Operation Homecoming: Writing the Wartime Experience (The Documentary Group)

Mark Holcomb, Time Out New York: "With commentary from war-writing heavyweights like Tobias Wolff and Tim O'Brien, the soldiers' narratives graphically elucidate…life in a war zone."
Not quoted: "Still, Operation Homecoming's slick approach is generally at odds with the project's thesis that war ultimately defeats all warriors, and at times the film crosses the line into gung ho glamorization."

Factory Girl (The Weinstein Company)

Stephen Holden, The New York Times: "Sienna Miller gives a furious, thrashing performance."
Actual line: "And the kindest thing to be said about this deluxe photo spread of a film is that Sienna Miller's Edie and Guy Pearce's Andy capture their characters' images and body language with relative precision. (Mr. Pearce is much prettier than the real Warhol; if Ms. Miller doesn't have Sedgwick's throaty smoker's voice and aristocratic air, she gives a furious, thrashing performance as a lost little rich girl.)"
The bit about Miller is the only mildly positive part of Holden's review, and it's not even particularly complimentary. For that spin sin, this wins Gelf's Bogus Blurb of the Week award.

Babel (Paramount Vantage)

Sean Smith, Newsweek: "Every year I have a moment, sitting in a screening, when I realize that I'm watching the movie that's going to win the Oscar for best picture. I then spend the ensuing months second-guessing myself as critics enumerate the film's flaws, and pundits elaborate on why it can't possibly win. Even if the film becomes the front runner, I talk myself out of my initial reaction. And then, almost always, it wins.
The reason I think Babel could win best picture has nothing to do with what I think about it at all. It's because watching “Babel," I felt the same rush I had watching American Beauty, Shakespeare in Love and Million Dollar Baby. I can't rationalize it. I can't quantify it. I can barely explain it. All I can tell you is that, as sappy as it sounds, those films—and this film—made me feel as if my heart had expanded."
Not quoted: "It's why Rocky beat Taxi Driver, All the President's Men and Network for best picture."
In other words, other films may be better, but at least this one is really poignant.

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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