Gelf Magazine - Looking over the overlooked

The Blurbs

January 31, 2007

'Too Symbolic and Preachy for its Own Good'

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...

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.

"Wildly Entertaining! Totally Original! Hilarious! Laugh out loud fun! An Awesome Ride! A true gem!"—Stephen Chupnick of Movieweb on the widely panned Arthur and the Invisibles.

Seraphim Falls (Samuel Goldwyn)

Michael Wilmington, Chicago Tribune: "Grand and Mythic."
Not quoted: "Seraphim Falls is a movie some will relish and others will find a bit anachronistic."

Richard Roeper, Ebert & Roeper: "Big thumbs up. Brosnan shines…one of the most intense and memorable performances of his career!"
Not quoted: "Seraphim Falls gets a little too symbolic and preachy for it's own good…I was a little disappointed and perplexed by the last fifteen minutes of this film."

Screamers (Maya)

Luke Y. Thompson, LA Weekly: "Genius!"
Actual line: "With so many bleeding-heart, socially conscious docs about genocide and other world ills, it's easy to get jaded. But [director Carla] Garapedian overcomes the fatigue by combining serious subject matter with tour footage from the most innovative metal band in the world [ed: System of a Down]. It's some genius headbanging."

Smokin' Aces (Universal)

Pete Hammond, Maxim: "Excitement!"
Not quoted: "It may not be terribly original…"
Not sure why the PR guys decided to go with a noun for this blurb. There were plenty of effusive adjectives (i.e. "outrageous," "off-the-wall," "in-your-face," "wild," "super kinetic") to choose from in Hammond's review.

Bonnie Laufer-Krebs, Tribute-TV: "Smokin' Hot"
Actual line: "When word of the price on Aces' head spreads into the community of ex-cons and cons-to-be, it entices bounty hunters, thugs-for-hire, smokin' hot vixens and double-crossing mobsters to join in the hunt."
It appears that the blurb was taken from a synopsis—not a review—of the movie. Add to that the inconvenient truth that "smokin' hot" refers to the physical characteristics of some women in the film, and not the film itself, and this blurb wins Gelf's Bogus Blurb of the Week award.

Mafioso (Rialto)

Anthony Lane, The New Yorker: "Admirers of the Corleones & Tony Soprano will revel!"
Actual line: "Admirers of the Corleones, or, indeed, of Tony Soprano, will revel in the fleshy, pontifical presence of Don Vincenzo (Ugo Attanasio), the head of the local Mafia."
There are plenty of raves out there for this just re-released 1962 comedy. This quote, however, only serves to point out that Don Vincenzo is one fat and well-respected dude.

Alone With Her (IFC First Take)

Jay Carr, AM New York: "Clever! Skin-crawlingly potent!"
Actual line: Alone with Her is a plausible, skin-crawlingly potent nightmare, calculated to make single women everywhere sleep less soundly.

Inland Empire (518 Media/Absurda)

Manohla Dargis, The New York Times: "Not for the faint of heart…mysterious and exciting."
Actual line: "The film makes for harrowing, demanding, sometimes unpleasant and insistently engaged viewing, but it’s also mysterious and exciting to think about."

Arthur and the Invisibles (Weinstein Co./MGM)

Stephen Chupnick, Movieweb: "Hilarious & wildly entertaining!"
Actual line: "Wildly Entertaining! Totally Original! Hilarious! Laugh out loud fun! An Awesome Ride! A true gem!"
As you might expect, the effusive quote says less about the review than the reviewer. (The movie has generally been panned.) Chupnick seems to punctuate all of his reviews with excess exclamation points and blurb-ready sayings. Here's the strange result when he applied his blurb-o-matic machine to a review for The Island: "A fun and thrilling roller coaster ride—about clones!"

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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