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David Poland

By David Poland

Noah's Frenzy Lands On Ridley

Some angry, angry mail came in on Noah’s column this week. I thought it would be good to open up the floor.
Personally, I find his feelings about this a bit 20something and short-sighted… really as simple as “he doesn’t get it.” But then again, he doesn’t “get” Kingdom of Heaven‘s director’s cut, so how can you argue with him. The heart wants what the heart wants.
After the jump, a particularly angry letter that has in its opening graph, “I felt COMPELLED to write this e-mail, to tell you in fact, what a jackass you are…
Ridley Scott – Overrated?
I know that in some circles, I would be torn limb from limb for saying this: Ridley Scott is simply not that great.
There, I said it.
Alright, yes, he’s a competent filmmaker and is not exactly a blight on the cinematic landscape, but I don’t really see why Ridley Scott is deified while his brother Tony Scott is vilified considering their styles are remarkably similar. Let’s say you switched the material that each of them directed, do you think that Tony Scott would have ruined any of the films that Ridley has directed? Could Ridley have elevated D

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140 Responses to “Noah's Frenzy Lands On Ridley”

  1. Very well said indeed. I was so annoyed with Noah’s moronic, clueless and laughably conceited column that I lost my temper. The above poster is right – Noah brings disrepute to MCN with ludicrous and contemptible drivel like this. If he’s not sacked, the next time he should get the nod from David before the column appears. As for me, I will never read anything by him again.

  2. Noah says:

    And this was my e-mail back:
    “I’m terribly sorry that we have a difference of opinion, but I suppose it says something that I got you mad enough to not only write the longest e-mail response in history, but you also requested that I a) lose my job and b) get struck by lightning and I must say that if I was poor writer, I think you’d probably just dismiss the column rather than go through the time and energy to write that response.
    I would go through each one of your points and attempt to refute them, but unlike you I believe that you are entitled to your opinion. If you love Ridley Scott and his films, then you don’t need my approval to do so; the majority of the e-mails I’ve received have been along the lines of “finally, somebody said it,” but I expected there to be more e-mails like yours, passionately defending Ridley who I NEVER CALLED A BAD FILMMAKER or even an uninfluential one, I simply called him overrated. People call him a “master” and I’m sorry if I don’t think he’s in the same class as Kubrick, Antonioni, Bergman, Godard or Truffaut and yes, those are who I PERSONALLY rate as masters. Believe it or not, this column was an opinion piece, not a statement of fact.
    I will say though that as for point #10 of yours: Schindler was a real guy, Gladiator is a made-up story. And also, Ridley Scott may have made Russell a household name, but he was nominated for Best Actor the previous year for The Insider, so he wasn’t exactly an unknown.
    I got the chance to see American Gangster recently and I liked it a lot, I must say. It’s definitely a good film, although there are so many things in it that have been done before in both New Jack City and Blow. However, this is a far superior film.
    Anyway, I hope you’ll continue to read the column and continue to send me your feedback. I really do appreciate your opinion and will ignore the fact that you’re trying to have me fired and that you want me dead. 🙂

  3. I think the reason more people didn’t e-mail you is because most people realised the article was nonsense and didn’t bother.

  4. Geoff says:

    I don’t post here often.
    I also don’t have the time or energy to write my own explication of Noah’s analysis. I’ve read some of his stuff and respected a hell of alot of it. But this is just sad. Just awful.

  5. LYT says:

    Ridley’s highs are better than anything of Tony’s. But when he doesn’t hit those highs, he can be a lot worse.
    Tony is more consistent, but has made nothing on the level of Alien, Thelma and Louise, or Blade Runner (Director’s Cut).
    Gladiator is still f’ing awful, though. I’d rather watch Domino again.

  6. Crow T Robot says:

    Cheer up Noah, they called Kris Tapley an amateur on MCN last year and now he’s writing for Variety.
    And who are we kidding, Ridley Scott is a frustratingly erratic director. He’s a competent storyteller who doesn’t have much to say about anything.

  7. Dellamorte says:

    Ridley Scott is like a lot of directors who have to wrestle with art and commerce. John Ford, an inarguable master, made lots of lesser films and misfires, but he had the studio system. Missteps in the modern cinema world, well, studios are less forgiving. Scott went through some hard times after Blade Runner because he put a lot into it and got fucked over. Both the theatrical and the supposed 1992 cut were not his (the 92 cut wasn’t done with him). Scott may have been lost in Legend, and afterwards did commercial work to cement his reputation to show that he can play (which Someone and Black Rain appear to be) but that resulted in two reasonably entertaining Hollywood films.
    The difference between Ridley and Tony is that Tony mostly makes these films (though arguably Man on Fire and Domino have shown a director who is going after something. What this is I’m not sure he’s found yet, but his search is admirable. I doubt Brett Ratner would stretch such muscles). Whether you like the films or not, Ridley tends to be after something grander than just a good night at the movie.
    The Email author is entirely correct about Thelma and Louise. I would like to see 1492 again, I remember great sequences, but a mess. So again, after his botched return to form, he went commercial with two films (which are arguably less interesting than the former, but that could just be Scott’s boredom). And then Gladiator, which I’m not fond of, but do like how Ridley subverted Sword and Sandal aesthetic and made the American the bad guy (compare to the Spartacus/Ben-Hur standard of having the scrappy American fighting the stiff upper Brits). Here the American is an indulgent brat. Russell was an actor before Gladiator, the film made him a star. Just look as his filmography. Hannibal has been described as Grand Guiginol by those who love it, a black romance. What Scott found in the novel is way more interesting than what Thomas Harris had to say (essentially: Fuck you for making me write more about Lecter). But after two big hits, you get a flurry of work, with BHD, the minor key Matchstick, then the epic heft of Kingdom of Heaven, which is a truly great film in the director’s cut. A Good Year was a small film, but Scott has taken the bull by the horns and just wants to keep working. Which is admirable.
    To tell the tale of a career, you have to look at the ebbs and flows, what worked and what doesn’t. Scorsese spent much of the 80’s working sideways. But you can see that The Color of Money was part of the play to make Last Temptation.
    My guess is that Noah may have skipped more films that just The Duelists, which is another of Ridley’s masterpieces. And my guess is that he saw Aliens first, and never got the same jolts from the first film. Immortality, and the pursuit of it seems to be the leitmotif of Scott’s cinema.
    And I agree with the emailer in the sense that to write a contrarian essay, it’s only worth it if you can articulate your point to shut down intelligent naysayers. If the emailer wishes to suggest that the backbone of film knowledge on Noah’s side is lacking, evidence points to him being right.

  8. SJRubinstein says:

    “10) we’re supposed to believe that a king would fight some gladiator for fun and wouldn’t just have him killed.”
    Emperor, not King. Named “Caesar” at age 5, Emperor Caesar Marcus Aurelius COMMODUS Antoninus Augustus – the character played by Joaquin Phoenix in “Gladiator” – not only is believed to have murdered Emperor Marcus Aurelius, but did in fact fight gladiators, but also killed elephants, hippopotami, rhinos and a giraffe in the arena according to historians Herodian and Dio Cassius.
    Commodus was not, in fact, killed by a gladiator, however, and certainly not the made-up Maximus Decimus Meridius, but he did die at the hands of a wrestler in a plot that included his mistress.

  9. Jeffrey Boam's Doctor says:

    Great response from that anon to Noah’s witless and moronic contrarian MCN piece. And I was with anon all the way until he put SUGARLAND instead of ALWAYS into Spielberg’s misses… wft? Sugarland? Its close to a fucking masterpiece and way underrated.
    But Dave I don’t have the time or energy to respond to Noah’s dribblings either but yes, it’s certainly his right to an opinion.. retarded it maybe. His insights appear to be based on only 3-4yrs of film viewing and are not worth publication on MCN or anywhere except his own personal blog.
    I’m sure he’s a nice guy and all but for fucks sake – I could fart more interesting insights about contemporary film than Noah.
    I’m sure there’s a lot of MCN readers who are over this very young mans fannish warblings.
    What I find incredulous is this “what exaclty did Dave find interesting about Noah’s writing in the first place?”
    Noah is a prime example of the new ‘chatter’ futurists call the eventual exponential decline and suffocation of real taste harbingers. All leading to being left with zillions of wannabe writers chattering in our ears 24/7 – stating idiotic opinions with zero historical context or keen insight.
    It truly is the dawn of idiocracy.

  10. PastePotPete says:

    Noah has always struck me as an earnest and fundamentally nice person, at least based on his posts.
    However I have never been able to read past the first paragraph of any of his columns. I didn’t get past the title of this Ridley Scott one. Reading the out of context quotes in Anonymous’s email makes me glad I did so.
    Anonymous lost a lot of credibility with me when he listed Bringing Out The Dead as one of Scorsese’s worst films. Talk about ‘not getting it’.
    Also, Empire of the Sun? I consider that one of Spielberg’s top 5. Stunning movie.

  11. IOIOIOI says:

    Boam sure can turn a phrase. Nevertheless; we already did this in the BYOB thread. Why give folks another place to kick your boy in the nuts, Heat?

  12. jesse says:

    I knew Ridley Scott was well-liked among film geeks, but sweet jesus, is he that sacred? People talk about Spielberg being overrated or a hack or whatever all the time. And some people agree and some people defend him. But to attack Ridley Scott is supposedly a red flag of pure ignorance? Are you serious, guys?
    I personally found Noah’s article pretty spot-on (and not particularly offensive to Scott’s fans the way a lot of criticism of Spielberg can be). A lot of Scott’s movies are boring as hell. I couldn’t get to the Kingdom of Heaven director’s cut because I tried so hard not to fall asleep during the original cut and failed (and there were things I admired about that movie). I’d even go so far as to say that one of the movies he cites as better than Scott’s average, Black Hawk Down, isn’t particularly good either (though Matchstick Men is excellent — and maybe Scott’s best on purely human, story terms).
    Surely there must be others who feel this way? Noah is correct to point out that when it comes down to it, Scott hasn’t made all that many great movies. He’s made two tremendously influential (and in some ways great) works: Alien and Blade Runner. He’s made some other decent films, but if you’re talking about stacking them up against the filmographies of a Scorsese or a Spielberg, doesn’t he look a little bit, I dunno, erratic, at best? I think he’s probably most comparable with Brian DePalma — another filmmaker who no one would really have a problem with bashing the hell out of. Why the hell does Scott get a free pass??
    I’ve actually been waiting to read a piece like this for ages. Granted, I’m mostly supportive because he agrees with me on an opinion that I’ve often been alone on… but then, the people frothing at the mouth aren’t any more objective, either.

  13. YND says:

    I was one of the people who wrote to Noah to concur with his assessment. Since age seems to be important to some (including Mr. Poland), I’ll say that I’m a whopping 31 and you know what? I still don’t care for the films of Ridley Scott.
    It ain’t for lack of trying — I went and saw the Director’s Cut of BLADE RUNNER opening weekend, excited to FINALLY cut through all the excuses I’d made for the film in the previous four times I’d seen it (too young, bad print, bad sound, not the director’s vision, etc.) based solely on the enthusiasm of so many Ridley fans. This time it was a gorgeous presentation of the One True Director’s Cut… and all I came away with was the absolute certainty that I never need to see BLADE RUNNER ever again. For me, it’s not a great film. Rather, it has some great elements that slowly but surely get strangled by Style over the course of the film’s running time. To my mind, this is usually the case in Scott’s films. I’ve seen all but DUELLISTS, WHITE SQUALL, GI JANE, KINGDOM OF HEAVEN and A GOOD YEAR… and not one other than ALIEN would I call Great.
    (And to address a particularly asinine point from Anonymous’s letter, the idea that to appreciate a movie one has to go back and view it from the point of view of a contemporary audience is the biggest cop-out ever. The whole POINT of a classic film is that it stands the test of time. 2001: A SPACE ODYSSEY isn’t great because it was mind-blowing in 1968, it’s great because it’s mind-blowing NOW. If SOME LIKE IT HOT was hilarious in 1959 but sucked now? It wouldn’t be a classic.)
    But here’s the deal — it’s an opinion, people. And as Noah’s is a reasonably unorthodox, minority opinion in some circles, hoo-fuckin’-ray to him for putting it out there with some solid consideration to provoke thought and prompt discussion.
    What I find most insulting about all this is Poland’s reaction. The idea that Noah’s opinion can simply be dismissed because he’s in his 20s and “doesn’t get it”? That’s bullshit, Dave. Just because someone disagrees with you doesn’t invalidate their opinion. I get film. I love film. I’ve watched and loved and studied the oeuvres of Hawks, Fuller, Dreyer, Fassbinder, two different Sturgeses, Wilder, Kubrick, Leone, Herzog… exactly how many names do I need to drop to validate my opinion? Noah’s made his bones with his writing. Disagree all you want and state your arguments, but don’t disregard them by setting a place for him at the kids’ table.

  14. York "Budd" Durden says:

    Whether or not he has “made his bones”, this was a poorly-argued and horrendously copy-edited blog post opinion piece. Not worthy of the front page on something like MCN.

  15. MAGGA says:

    Noah wrote the first article that allerted me to the fact that many consider Ridley Scott among the great filmmakers. He is one of the directors whose name above the title makes the purchase of a ticket a more appealing prospect, but he has made only two truly great movies as far as I know, and it wa long ago. Those two films are blessings, but everything since has been merely good when he gets it right. Of course I am of the opinion that Antonioni is also vastly overrated and Spielberg way underrated, so maybe I too will be seen as a bit young at 27.

  16. YND says:

    “Not worthy of the front page on something like MCN.”
    Right. ‘Cause this is usually “Cahiers du Cinema”.
    It was certainly the most interesting point of view I’VE seen expressed on this site in a while. And based on the vitriol of the responses here, it seems to have touched at least a few nerves…

  17. “But you can see that The Color of Money was part of the play to make Last Temptation.”
    I always thought Scorsese was forced to make Cape Fear in order to make Last Temptation of Christ.
    On the matter of comparing Ridley Scott to the likes of Martin Scorsese in terms of the amount of “classics” they have made… well, I don’t think anyone is saying that Ridley is better than Scorsese or Kubrick or whoever else. Most of us are just saying that it seems strange to dismiss a man’s entire career when it has at least three brilliant flicks, several other very great ones, some moderate ones and a couple of true duds. Almost every director who works regularly (so no Terrence Malick-like directors) will have that sort of history as we have pointed out.
    One of the main issues I had with the piece though had nothing to do with what was written but how it was written. It was hardly the sort of piece I would expect to see on the front page of a website like MCN, but something by someone who is just peeved off and decided to write down his thoughts with no structure or preparation.

  18. YND says:

    “Most of us are just saying that it seems strange to dismiss a man’s entire career when it has at least three brilliant flicks, several other very great ones, some moderate ones and a couple of true duds.”
    Well, that’s clearly an opinion some of us don’t hold. Out of curiosity, which three films do you feel are “brilliant”? ALIEN and BLADE RUNNER, I assume… but what else? You say it like it’s apparent, but I don’t even see concensus among the Ridley defenders on this page.

  19. Joe Leydon says:

    Personally, I find his feelings about this a bit 20something and short-sighted… really as simple as “he doesn’t get it.”
    Gee, David, I don’t know. That sounds kinda, well, condescending.

  20. houmas says:

    Anybody who wants to comment on Scott’s oveure seriously needs to watch THE DUELLISTS.
    ALIEN and BLADE RUNNER may be the high profile, acknowledged “masterpieces” (or whatever), but for my money, THE DUELLISTS is still his best film. A few years ago, I was actually leaning in the direction of Noah, in terms of my opinion about Scott. But I bought a DVD of THE DUELLISTS and was frankly stunned that this was the work of a first-time director. Everything about that film is utterly assured. It looks wonderful (as you would expect from Scott), the performances from Harvey Kietel and the underrated Keith Carradine are wonderful. It’s a fiercly gripping character study, and seems more the work of an actors director than someone who just makes things look pretty. It’s a very underrated and undervalued picture, imho. And it gave me a greater appreciation for Scott. He’s never made a period drama as good as THE DUELLISTS, yet he’s tried a few times.
    For my money, Scott’s first 3 films were immaculate (THE DUELLISTS, ALIEN, BLADE RUNNER). He came unstuck with LEGEND (his 4th film), and has been inconsistent ever since. But those first 3 films are movies any filmmaker would love to have in their filmography.

  21. bipedalist says:

    Noah, this ass-kicking is a good lesson for you. I felt rage when I read your James Mangold piece. Thankfully, Poland had the good sense not to post THAT letter.
    I don’t fault you, though, I fault David Poland for putting you front and center when you weren’t ready for it. At least Kris Tapley had experience writing for a web audience before he was thrust onto MCN. But you are a film student and commenter. You are young and when you look back at this phase in your life you will be half-embarrassed by it and half proud of yourself for doing it.
    The worst thing you could get now, feedback-wise, is a lot of praise for your writing – that would hinder you greatly. You need to be kicked around a bit to develop humility and ultimately deeper insight, and that, my friend, will make you a better writer. Take this as a very important lesson. If you dig your heels in and stick to your guns you merely slow down the inevitable process.
    All the best.

  22. otakuhouse says:

    I’m sorry but to begin with Noah is just simply a poor writer; witless, graceless, clunky, amateurish, with little original insight or perception that’s distinguishable. I mean, come on, this is criticism?
    “It didn’t only seem authentic because of how knowledgeable it was on the inner-workings of serial killers, but because of how the film looked. If you go back and watch Silence of the Lambs, you’ll notice a very muted color palette that really works in the film’s favor because it makes it feel grittier and nastier and greyer”
    Extolling the virtues of Fincher without being able to see the enormous debt he owes to Ridley Scott is pathetic and should have been absolute reason for not running the piece in the first place.
    Scott utterly defined a look that seeped into pop culture far more than any other director of the 80s; his seminal work in advertising and the early combo of Alien and Blade Runner could easily be argued as some of the most influential pop culture imagery for an entire decade.
    The ignorance exhibited will lead me to ignoring everything this person ever writes again. Seriously DP this is beyond amateurish. I acutally believe that one could write a decent article on how Scott’s an incredibly influential filmmaker but the substance of his work is lacking – something I strongly disagree with – but a decent writer could do it in an impassioned original manner and provide original insights. How about an angle on hw he seems to have much more sympathy for monsters than heroes; such as Roy Batty or Joaquin Pheonix’s character in Gladiator or Hannibal?
    Didn’t James Cameron fire someone on the spot when he said that “Ridley Scott hasn’t had a hit in years”?
    If Noah is an indication of the generation of filmmakers (and why is every young critic an aspiring filmmaker instead of an aspiring critic) born in the 80s who share Kevin Smith’s notion that he doesn’t need to watch Truffaut or Godard because he’s seen people who ripped them off… Fucking David Fincher more original than Ridley Scott… Jesus H Christ…

  23. seanwithaw says:

    I respect Scott’s work. But I don’t love any of his films. Does that make sense?
    He chooses more interesting projects than his brother Tony, I believe.
    There is always a sort of distance between Scott and his audience.
    And in ebert’s review for blade runner I think he best describes scotts films:
    “It looks fabulous, it uses special effects to create a new world of its own, but it is thin in its human story”
    you can take out special effects and put production values, etc etc. but his films always look great.
    the characters are what suffer.
    but scott has tried to branch out and make character driven pieces like matchstick men, g.i. jane, and the good year. but they certainly aren’t as iconic as his alien, blade runner, legend, gladiator, or black hawk down.
    so he is trying.
    so a lot to respect. just not that much too love. 🙂

  24. Jerry Colvin says:

    God, you all need to get over yourselves. Pathetic.

  25. Wrecktum says:

    OK, this is just getting sad. This dude writes a well-reasoned dissertation on why he thinks Ridley Scott is overrated and now people are eviscerating him. Nasty and personal eviscerations, with broad ageist strokes. This is a sad commentary on the internets, folks. You all should be ashamed.

  26. Sevenmack says:

    David: The argument that he’s a twenty-something is not only condescending, but insulting of many a great critic and writer, from Roger Ebert (25 when he got to the Sun-Times) to H.L. Mencken, who began their greatness at a young age. For that, he deserves an apology. And more importantly, it’s not even a substantive criticism. If you’re going to make a criticism, stick to the points, don’t go off into the proverbial reservation.
    Bipedalist: Sure, Noah should learn humility. But he should also learn to dig in his heels. A great critic, film, social or otherwise, will know the difference between valid criticism and B.S. He must also develop a backbone and fight back the critics with vigor and without fear, either of them or Poland, who can choose not to run his work if he feels the heat. Your advice isn’t worth a thing.
    Noah: You will have to realize that when you take on sacred cows, you will be criticized for doing so. Stay strong and keep at it. When they are attacking you, it means you’ve gotten their attention. And attention is always good in this business.
    And Jerry: You are right. We all need to get over ourselves. It’s just words and pictures. Nothing more or less.

  27. IOIOIOI says:

    YND; does Noah owe you money? Again… it’s not the opinion as much as it’s the way he put the opinion. Thus the crux of the problem.

  28. Wrecktum says:

    The way he put his opinion was just fine. It was well-reasoned and not hostile to people with opposing points of view. You people nee to get over yourselves, and quick.

  29. David Poland says:

    What I love about this is that everyone brings out their ax to grind… as reflected by Noah this time.
    Movie City News is about the exchange of ideas. The aggregated content is that. The original content is that. We believe in the writer and the freedom of expression. We believe in putting new voices in front of an industry readership… and as a result, we have seen almost every new writer who has appeared on our site cherry-picked by larger media outlets.
    I have never told the people I have allowed space on that front page what to think. And I will not condemn anyone for having an opinion I disagree with. I was 32 when I started The Hot Button as a daily and had a long history in the business before becoming a self-styled journo. A decade later, I still get mail telling me not to quit the day job.
    Noah will learn what he is capable of learning from this experience, for better and worse. I actually hope that he doesn’t feel compelled to rethink his position on Ridley Scott just because so many people hated it. I hope that he will see and consider the films again over time… and especially see The Duelists. I hope that he will take the criticism seriously, as most of it is offered, but not personally. And in the end, he may always feel this way about Ridley Scott. And many of you may always hate that. Oh well…
    The difference between a professional and an amateur is intent. I admire Noah’s intent. Everything else comes with experience. And you only get that experience by doing. If half the people who have asked for space on MCN were as hard-working and daring about offering himself up as Noah is, I could retire already.

  30. David Poland says:

    P.S. Roger Ebert was not the critic when he was 25 that he was at 50 and, hopefully, will be at 75.
    The notion that you don’t gain perspective, experience, and more factual information as you get older on the beat is idiotic… and take that from a guy who knew every fucking thing when he was 19 and had dozens of people working for him, every one of which was older.

  31. otakuhouse says:

    Nicely put, Dave, but it’s not the matter of his opinion that’s laughable; it’s the ignorance and horrendously amateurish writing behind it. Again I fully welcome an articulate, insightful discussion on Scott being overrated – albeit one that isn’t completely misinformed by an ignorant sense of film history and written in the style of a talkback on AICN.
    Would you run an article that says that Terence Malick isn’t as visually gifted as Andrew Dominik?

  32. Sevenmack says:

    Amateurish, otakuhouse? Or do you mean amateurish because it doesn’t agree with your view on Scott? Let’s get real now: That’s why you found the piece to your disliking.

  33. Kambei says:

    Jonathan Demme directed Silence of the Lambs, not David Fincher. You are thinking of Se7en or Zodiac perhaps?

  34. Sevenmack says:

    Sure, David, you gain perspective as you get older. And no one is the same person they were when they were younger. But that’s not my point. My point is that chalking up one’s opinion to age is not only condescending, it fails to consider that they may have done their homework. After all, I know reporters who are sloppier at 50 than they were at 25. And the converse is true too.

  35. otakuhouse says:

    In Noah’s original article he says that he doesn’t know if Ridley Scott is as visually gifted as David Fincher. He really does say that.
    I chose the quote about Silence of the Lambs because it’s such a clear indicatiion of poor writing. Authenticity is derived from – in the poetic words of Noah – “how the film looked”. That’s not the writing of a 24 year old, that’s a 15 year old in this day and age.
    Devin Faraci’s review of Blade Runner, in which he tears it apart, I completely welcome despite some ill founded logic in there. I gotta admit, Faraci’s arguments made me embarassed about my love for Roy Batty’s death scene. So kiss my ass.
    DP, the bane of online journalism is its lack of editorial oversight. How you cannot see Noah’s writing as amateurish is beyond me. Sasha Frere-Jones’ baiting recent article in The New Yorker about modern rock music was completely fucking retarded, but it was well written. Intent and earnestness do not make up for lack of skill.

  36. anghus says:

    i can’t think of a worse basis for a column than
    “What’s the big deal about (blank)?”
    Obviously, some people like him. Others love him.
    But when you posdt a coulmn taking a shot or saying ‘i don’t get (blank)’, you are either
    a) exposing your lack of respect for a body of work loved by many film fans
    b) taking a shot at a popular, although less iconic filmmaker in order to make yourself seem ‘edgy’
    either way, it’s not going to make you many fans on a cerebral forum like this one, and the ones who do latch onto this train of thought are probably the hateful, spite spewing lot who frequent the AICN talkbacks.
    It was a losing proposition from the start.

  37. Sevenmack says:

    Actually Anghus, MCN is the only site I peruse for discussion about film these days; there are some that are good and others that aren’t, but my day job (writing editorials) dictates that movie talk is more of a hobby. In any case, Anghus, your statement is the kind of ‘amateurish’ blanket paragraph that you accuse Noah of offering in his piece. Think about it.

  38. Noah says:

    I appreciate both the insights and criticisms about my piece, I truly do. As for my writing being “amateurish” or the topic being “silly,” I don’t know what to say other than if you didn’t just dismiss it outright, then I must have been at least a little bit effective. But, my intention was never to be incendiary, I just wanted to state my opinion on what I thought was an interesting filmmaker.
    My age seems to be a big issue for people, so I’ll just say it: I’m fucking 24, why is that such a big deal? Orson Welles was making Citizen Kane when he was my age (and yes, I know, I am NO Orson Welles). I tried to present my opinion in a clear, coherent way and tried to back up my points without writing a thesis paper and I’m sure as I get older, my writing will improve, but this was just a column version of an argument that many of us have had as people who love film.
    To clear up a recurring misconception: I’m not an aspiring filmmaker. I’m an aspiring novelist. Of course I’ve written some scripts, but I have no interest in making films beyond putting ideas on paper because I enjoy watching them too much. I don’t understand how this “film student” nonsense would matter, but I majored in creative writing.
    Another thing: someone said that I have probably only been watching film seriously for 3 or 4 years. I watched A Clockwork Orange when I was 10 years (my mother was very supportive of my passions) and I was forever changed, consuming as much film as I possibly could and I think I’m pretty knowledgable. I see over 180 new release films each year (paying for most of them) and up to 100 more “classics” I hadn’t seen. My favorite filmmakers are Kubrick and Truffaut and I’m sorry if I wouldn’t put Ridley Scott in that tier, as some of you might.
    I’m sure writing all this is probably going to unleash the dogs further, but I just want to say one thing: disagree with me all you want, tell me I’m not a good writer or that my opinions are ill-informed, but I have never been anything but polite when I have stated my opinions and in the face of everyone calling me retarded, I haven’t called anyone names back. I might be young, but at least I know my manners.

  39. TuckPendleton says:

    The comments about Noah’s age are ridiculous. Noah’s been writing for a good long while now on this site, and his age has, as far as I can remember, ALWAYS been noted at the bottom of the columns. (Why this has been done is another question.) Point being, his being 24 shouldn’t be a shock to 85% of the people making comments here, who have been around for a while. If you choose to keep reading Noah, you are doing so with the knowledge of his age. And if you are reading him, it is fair to assume that you have put aside his age as a concern. (Unless you are a truly spiteful person, in which case you’ve been waiting to drop his “age” as your method of argument whenever he says something you disagree with. In which case, you’ve got bigger problems.)
    So get over his age. It’s Poland’s website. If you want to have a movie website where everyone fits your own standards, go start your own.
    As someone said above, this is not Cahiers du Cinema, this is the freakin’ Hot Blog, where we come to knock around film ideas and squabble and praise and hope to make our days go by a little faster. While the level of discourse is usually high, it’s as often petty and mundane, and to call this blog or MCN “cerebral” is way-overreaching.
    The fact is, ANY of us could have asked Poland for a column, and presented our CV. Noah has, and has staked his name to it. Most of us (me included) sit behind user names, typing safely in anonymity.
    Attack him on his reasoning, attack him on his evidence. But to attack him for solely his age only highlights your own shortcomings, especially when you do so wearing a mask.

  40. anghus says:

    no, my statement was more of an internal question that should be asked of anyone writing for a mass audience.
    “What is the intent of this piece?”
    On a site like MCN, is that column really going to speak to the reader? obviously, it did not. Unless his goal was to say “Im young, i’m brash, and i have lots of ill informed opinions i’m going to share with you.”
    It really did smack me as “look old guys, this young buck doesn’t get it, and i’m going to tell you why.”
    I don’t fault him for it. Write what you feel and be fearless, but it’d be like Merrick at AICN writing a piece called “Peter Jackson: Creatively Bankrupt”. Who does it serve in that audience? W
    It isn’t that Noah doesn’t get Scott, it’s that he doesn’t get why others get Scott, and really, that is the inherent flaw in the piece.

  41. Yikes…that e-mail could become it’s own screenplay if Ridley runs out of material during a writers strike.
    That was some harsh stuff!

  42. IOIOIOI says:

    It’s not the amount of movies you see a year. It’s once again the way you put things. You could have handled you criticism of Sir Ridley in a less TALKBACKY fashion. You are young, Heat seems to like you, and hopefully everything works out.
    Nevertheless; thanks for referencing Sasha Frere Jones article otakuhouse. While I will question your statement about it being well-written (there’s a way to use big words that do not make you come across like a huge flaming douche). I feel the brother’s need to have more rhythm in indie pop. If you listen to Indie-pop. There are a lot of motherfuckers using ridiculous rhythm structures, that could be replaced with a fat backbeat. There’s nothing wrong with wanting a bit more FUNK, SOUL, and RHYTHM in the indie-pop stew.

  43. lazarus says:

    Unlike most people here, I seem to be falling somewhere in the middle. I think there are some real stretches of logic in Noah’s piece, but I think the handful of good points he does make he nails home.
    Blade Runner is a visionary work, but I think too much of its power comes with context. I think the criticisms it received at the time (and let’s not kid ourselves that it got stellar reviews across the board) are the same criticisms it will get from any generation that watches it. In the end, I don’t know that it has much more depth than Scott’s 1984 Apple Macintosh commercial. And the problem I’m having with calling it a masterpiece is that, as someone pointed out above, I don’t think it’s on the level of something like 2001.
    One other thing I’d like to address is the Scott/Fincher thing. First of all, just because Fincher may have been influenced by Scott doesn’t prevent him from being considered a better filmmaker. Fincher is not a spring chicken. He’s been around for a while now, even if he only has 6 films to his credit. While I don’t necessarily agree with Noah that he’s better YET, I don’t think it would be a stretch if someone argued that Zodiac is a more mature and accomplished film than anything Scott has put to film (and if I hadn’t seen the Kingdom of Heaven Director’s Cut I might even agree with the notion). Fincher, like Scott, has given us a bona fide genre classic in Seven, and thematically presents a whole lot to chew on in the satirical Fight Club. Has Scott crafted anything this daring or challenging in his entire life?
    In the end Scott has made more than a handful of good films, even if it’s arguable how often or high he’s scaled the heights of greatness. He’s dabbled in a wide breadth of subject matter and continues to push his own personal envelope, and for that he should be applauded. But I ultimately do agree with Noah on the basic level that he’s overrated, even if I disagree with how or with what. In no way is he one of the greatest of all time, this time, whatever. Not when you look at a contemporary like Scorsese or Spielberg. He’s more akin to Clint Eastwood, without the highest highs or the lowest lows. There’s a lot of CRAP in there that doesn’t hold up to the auteur theory, which suggests that even minor works contain something of worth. When Ridley phoned it in, the films were practically devoid of art. So while we need to look for a visual stamp when definining an auteur, we also need to look at the worst of the canon. You can name Bringing Out the Dead, Cape Fear, Always, New York New York, Hook, Sugarland Express, whatever, but they all contain moments of greatness and the pet themes of their directors.

  44. The Carpetmuncher says:

    I have to agree with Noah that Ridley Scott is a good but not great filmmaker who is constantly overrated by the legions of fanboys that believes Blade Runner is some type of masterpeice, when what it really is is a beautiful if shallow mess.
    Everytime I hear people complain about the voice over, I’m reminded that without the voice over the film makes zero sense. But whatever. It’s pretty to look at. That is apparently satisfying to a large crosssection of fans. We can admit it’s influence as a piece of production design without overrating the actual film, but in today’s world where people pee all over themselves to talk up complete garbage like The 300, it takes a stiff spine to stand up for storytelling over style.
    Gladiator is just another version of Braveheart, and hardly the work of a master. Both of those films have their proponents, but it doesn’t mean they’re any good. It just means the proponents of those films have pedestrian taste.
    I still hold Thelma & Louis in high regard, but credit more the script and the power of the actresses than any of Scott’s flashy shots.
    The period after Thelma – the last 15 years or so, has produced only one film worth talking about in Black Hawk Down (I’ve yet to see American Gangster and so can’t comment).
    1492 is awful storytelling, White Squall an unwatchable J Crew ad, GI Jane had a few nice pieces but is what it is which is a lame star vehicle for a dying star, Hannibal was just unneccesary and a money play and beneath a “great” director, Matchstick Men a snore, and A Good Year totally expose a director who has trouble with humor and basic human stories – when there isn’t a big set piece to pump up, we suddenly see the Emperor without his clothes.
    And of course Kingdom of Heaven in all it’s blah-ness is the best indicator of fanboy hell – when you hear someone tell you that the 4 hour director’s cut is a masterpiece and that they’ve watched it nine times, just get out of the way or you might get covered in rabid fanboy saliva. A terrible film, trying to capitalize on the Gladiator phenom.
    Can anyone imagine Speilberg following up Jaws with Godzilla? Of course not, because the guys is interested in people. Ridley Scott is interested in spectacle. And he often does it on a grand scale and quite beautifully. But lacking in so many ways.
    Ridley Scott’s is more the career of a great producer, not a great director. He can handle big productions and big stars, and puts a nice shine on everything. But his interest is in spectacle over humanity, which hardly makes him a great artist in my book. A great designer, a great producer, a great showman, maybe.
    But when fans compare Ridley favorable with guys like Speilberg, Scorsese, or even David Fincher or Spike Lee, yes, overrated is the word.

  45. mysteryperfecta says:

    I don’t think its at all a stretch to argue that Scott is not among our best directors, simply by looking at his body of work, and taking familiar stances on his films. To think so does not preclude the opinion that Scott is a good or even very good director. But again, his body of work suggests a product of inconsistent quality, too frequently punctuated by unremarkable films (or conversely, too infrequently punctuated by greatness). It cannot just be a matter of what Scott is capable of; it must be about what he has actually produced.
    Also, much of the response to Noah’s piece has been atrocious.

  46. brack says:

    The only criticism I will offer is that Noah hasn’t seen ALL of Ridley Scott’s films. If you’re going to write a piece about him and critique, do all your homework.

  47. The Carpetmuncher says:

    Of course Noah’s age is totally irrelevant to anyone who actually wants to engage what he wrote intellectually – instead, it is used as a hammer when there are no other weapons available. It’s the typical defense of scoundrels everywhere – when you can’t actual defend your ideas, attack the other party personally.
    The truth is, being younger means you get to view some of these films without the hype, and that you aren’t tied to the conventional wisdom. If anything, it might free you up to actually have an original idea once in awhile.

  48. Noah says:

    As always, I appreciate the level-headed responses by some of you who either agree or disagree politely, without resorting to name-calling. To those who didn’t enjoy the piece or found it troublesome, I can only say that I hope you enjoy my future columns more and I am glad that at the very least my piece provoked a heated debate and I would have loved to have heard some more concrete examples of why people are awed by Ridley Scott.
    I really am willing to listen if people would be willing to use examples to support their arguments; is it just the production design and the gorgeous visuals that he’s capable of? Does he have a voice that really resonates with you? Do you see a thematic through-line that I have yet to notice? Seriously, I’m not being flip, I am curious to hear the other side.

  49. Wow….I’ve certainly got some emails over the years about my writing on FT, but that was lengthy and angry. I wonder who wrote that….I’d like to reeler them in to find out. 😉
    Noah-I think you’re a nice guy who clearly has a passsion for film, but I would urge you to look past the snarky comments about your age and wealth of cinematic knowledge and pick out some things people are saying that can HELP your writing.
    I felt, like many others, your piece was really ranty and “talkbacky” and I think that’s a fixable flaw. I’ve felt that way in some of your other pieces as well but just figured you’d develop a style soon or that would be your style and, well, I dunno what I’d do with your stuff then. That particular style isn’t interesting to me and feels like we’re at a bar arguing rather than having an exchange of ideas. That’s just me though.
    I will also agree that your piece was indicative of a new breed of film “critics” who are really film reviewers writing under the auspice of “I see alot of movies so I know alot about movies” which, for my tastes, is a major problem with all these internet movie sites. In alot of ways, including Film Threat. There’s a general disdain for film criticism it seems…I think people just want the thumbs ups or stars or tomato rating rather than some insights that are pulled from a deep knowledge of film. That’s not an insult to you, but I think it’s true at this stage in your film writing career.
    Anyway, it’s gotta feel good to have 2 HUGE blogs written about you and maybe you can be the film reviewers Tucker Carlson or something. Hang in there buddy!

  50. hendhogan says:

    just out of curiosity, how many of you guys taking ridley to task for being more style and less substance are quentin tarantino fans?

  51. jesse says:

    hendhogan, good point — I’ll go back to taking Ridley to task for making 1492, which Tarantino hasn’t ever done.
    (But to actually address that point: for me, there is more substance in Tarantino’s style than there is style in Scott’s substance… or something. I don’t know. I’ve never been close to falling asleep during a Tarantino movie, and I’ve watched most of his stuff a second or third time for reasons beyond “I guess I should try harder to see what the big deal is.”)

  52. bmcintire says:

    “The truth is, being younger means you get to view some of these films without the hype, and that you aren’t tied to the conventional wisdom. If anything, it might free you up to actually have an original idea once in awhile.”
    Capretmuncher – Sorry, but all the pre-release hype in the world (and how much, really, did BLADE RUNNER receive?) can’t hold a candle to 25 years worth of reverential and/or fanatical defense of a film. Convential wisdom comes from having the groundowrk laid out for you already – as it does when you are seeing a film decades after it’s release (complete with an acceptance or rejection of all the baggage that comes along with it).

  53. JSThompson says:

    Everyone seems to want to cling to the high ground and proclaim that when discussing opinion that all thoughts and views are permissable, but everyone also has their soft spots where opposing views somehow start being attacks on all that you hold dear.
    Noah, don’t worry about it. Film criticism is a naturally divisive act, so if you’ve a taste at all for this thing, please keep in mind that you’re not here to please the greatest number of people. You’re not here to play to the loudest voices in the TB.
    My only problem with your article was the notion of something being overrated or, conversely, underrated. Saying so means that you hold the only correct interpretation of a filmmaker’s work, and that everyone who disagrees with you is wrong.
    Semantics? Maybe. It bothers me, though.

  54. christian says:

    Noah’s resposnes here contain far more insight and thought than his piece, which only sounds 20something inasmuch as it reads like it was tossed off on an AICN talkback.
    “It was, after all, the sequel in which we get the classic line, “Get away from her, you bitch!” as well as the truly jump-worthy moment when Lance Henriksen gets ripped open.”
    And that’s his in-depth reasoning behind why ALIEN isn’t so good. Nevermind it was a genuine adult sci-fi film incorporating 70’s realism within a SF/horror landscape, or that it was Scott who brought us Sigourney Weaver in the first place, or that the creature effects/design by Giger are the most revolutionary of the past 40 years and still superior to Winston’s which are excellent but plastic, or that ALIEN is about survival of the fittest and ALIENS is about Reagan/Rambo era xenophobia…
    And then he throws out that he giggled at Rob Bottin getting an Oscar nom for LEGEND. Despite the fact that the breathtaking makeup personified by Tim Cury’s Darkness, is perhaps the greatest demon creation in the history of film. The elves look like fantasy images come to life, and are far more fanciful than the Hobbits.
    Noah has clearly only seen a handful of films and I’m assuming that among those he considers THE GOONIES a timeless masterpice.

  55. Alan Cerny says:

    “My only problem with your article was the notion of something being overrated or, conversely, underrated. Saying so means that you hold the only correct interpretation of a filmmaker’s work, and that everyone who disagrees with you is wrong.
    Semantics? Maybe. It bothers me, though.”
    Unfortunately this style of criticism is endemic and widespread. It’s the laziest, worst type of reviewing imaginable, and whenever I come across it, I chalk it up to the lack of skills of the reviewer.
    Granted, Noah was making a wide statement about Ridley Scott and not reviewing one film in particular, but since he has admitted to not seeing every film of Ridley’s, he really shouldn’t be trying to make that all-encompassing statement about his work. But every film, whether you like the filmmaker or not, should be a blank slate for you, at least while watching it, and later on you can try to apply it to their catalog of work. But when you’re watching something for the first time, you shouldn’t be thinking about any of that, but whether or not the movie works at all.
    I think Ridley Scott’s a damn brilliant director. I don’t like everything he’s done. I think that BLADE RUNNER, for example, has an extremely flawed plot and I don’t like Ridley’s insistence that Deckard is a replicant. But it’s amazing visually, and I intend to see it this weekend as a double-feature with AMERICAN GANGSTER. I do think Ridley’s one of the most prolific filmmakers alive. He does seem to strive in making films that are unlike their predecessors in almost every way (you can compare time frames of GLADIATOR and KINGDOM OF HEAVEN, I suppose, but they’re really nothing alike). Unlike Fincher or even Spielberg, Scott’s catalog of films don’t seem to have one connecting theme, although I’m sure some of you will try to point it out, and I’d be mighty interested in what people would have to say about that. I’m convinced that the director’s cut of KINGDOM OF HEAVEN is a Lean-inspired masterpiece, and very relevant to today. It’s an amazing achievement, and any filmmaker would be proud to have that on their resume, box office success or not.
    And you know what? Youth does have something to do with it. 24 isn’t a baby, to be certain, but I can guarantee you that it ain’t 38 (my age) or however old Ebert is, or even Poland’s. Reviewing, like filmmaking in general, doesn’t happen in a vacuum, and there’s just things in life I’ve learned between 24 and 38 that have changed my perspective on things, even in regards to films I prefer now that I hated back then. noah’s discussion about THELMA AND LOUISE is a huge indicator of this. It seemed to me that he didn’t have any idea bout how women thought in today’s environment, much less in 1991. That stuff does matter, especially if you’re trying to put some work of art into some larger perspective. It’s not an insult to say that 24 might not be as qualified to talk about these issues as someone older, and there’s nothing wrong with applying that rationale into what Noah had to say. It’s not disparaging your age, it’s taking it into account when reading what you have to say. If you find that insulting, I’m sorry. That’s how people apply themselves and their situation to what they read.
    An interesting perspective on Ridley Scott’s work nonetheless, I just thoroughly don’t agree with much of anything you have to say.

  56. hendhogan says:

    i agree. to be overrated is to have some sense of the rating (which was lacking in the original article).
    “blade runner” was not received well critically at its opening. i think it was the vincent canby review that discussed how the film broke in the middle of his watching the movie and how people were wandering the aisle looking for their ticket stubs to get a refund.
    while not a particular fan of “white squall,” i think the scene where jeff bridges holds onto the porthole grill watching his trapped wife through the window is one of the most heartbreaking scenes i’ve ever seen.
    i also see anghus’ point that there seems no impetus to the article except to stir the pot. it’s not like he’s getting the lifetime achievement award at the next oscar broadcast.
    so, noah, i learned a little bit more about you. i’ll file it away.

  57. Noah says:

    Christian, first of all I wasn’t giggling at Rob Bottin’s makeup work, I was giggling at the fact that Legend is an Academy Award nominated film (the make up part was in parentheses like this one right here). I was writing a brief response to each of Ridley Scott’s films, if you’d like a full-length review of each one of his films, then I’ll keep that in mind for future columns; I was trying to keep this one at a manageable length, but in the future I will write five thousand to six thousand words to make sure that I have all the bases covered. And Christian, that Goonies comment is hilarious, acting like because I don’t kneel at the altar of Sir Ridley then it must mean I’m uninformed.
    Alan, I’ve seen every film of Ridley’s except one and maybe The Duellists is amazing, but it won’t make me view the rest of Ridley’s films any differently. I think I’ve seen a large enough sample size to make an assessment, but I will see The Duellists and I will watch it with an open mind because every time I see one of Ridley’s film I want to enjoy it and more often than not I do ENJOY them, I just am not in awe of them as some of you are.
    I was not just trying to stir the pot with this, hendhogan, I was trying to give a voice to my POINT OF VIEW. It’s an opinion piece, dude and if you disagree with then that’s FINE, but this mob mentality of “let’s knock the kid down a peg” really doesn’t help you get your point across. When you bring examples like your White Squall one, it makes me think back upon that and it helps get your point across better than calling me out for being young. I mean, honestly, what do you want me to do? Stop being 24? Okay, I’m trying to get older, but it’s not working fast enough. This is the opinion of a 24 year old person and you can cast aspersions on it or you can say to yourself, “hmm, that’s the opinion of one guy, who happens to be 24, but he got this this and this wrong.”

  58. Noah says:

    P.S. The Thelma and Louise thing, Alan, has to do with the fact that the film seems to revel in being anti-male whilst being pro-feminist. As someone who minored in Feminist Theory, I feel that this not only hinders the cause of female equality but it also hurts the film’s impact on me, not as a 24 year old but as a MALE.

  59. brack says:

    I think T&L is more anti-male jerks.

  60. The Carpetmuncher says:

    You’ll file it away? What are you, Nixon with an enemies list? Give us a break with that stuff.
    It’s fine if people want to disagree with Noah, but pretending like he can’t call Ridley Scott “overrated” is just bunk. Just the idea that so many otherwise articulate folks would stoop to condescend to all of us with bogus semantics just shows that there are many who simply aren’t up to countering Noah’s points with anything of sustance.
    Blade Runner is clearly very highly rated by tons of folks today. Gladiator was when it came out, but I imagine among serious film goers those ranks will thin out the further we get away from the hype. But no matter how far you get away from garbage like Legend and White Squall and 1492, those films aren’t gonna get any better.
    The more I hear everybody talk up Alien and Blade Runner, it begs the question – if those are the films Ridley Scott is held in such high regards for, is he really that much better than John Carpenter?
    I’m not saying Carpenter is the better filmmaker, but it’s not as clear cut as you might think. Which film resonates more, Blade Runner or Starman? Which film is more of a genre masterpiece, Alien or The Thing?

  61. christian says:

    Noah, there are dozens of minor films that get nominated for Academy Awards. Quite a few tend to be spfx films. That does not diminish them.
    And I adore LEGEND, one of the most beautiful fantasy landscapes ever created. It’s soft in the story realm but as Harlan Ellison pointed out, there are wonders in the film, most of all from Curry’s towering performance. The film has enough passionate defenders that Universal released a double-disc set of the film.
    And I don’t disagree at all that Scott’s output has been spotty over the past years. He once said he wanted to be the John Ford of science fiction but the failure of BLADE RUNNER and LEGEND led him to new pastures. I’m sorry for that.
    And I never thought THELMA AND LOUISE was anti-male, but Rush Limbaugh sure did, so I’m not sure how you came to that conclusion. Like somebody pointed out, a few young people today don’t seem to understand history and its changes, and think that all their rights came fully formed without struggle or evolution.
    Again, I have no problem with you critiquing Scott’s work, but examine your reasons more carefully next time out without the web flippancy. Especially given the film scholars here ready to tear you a new one…

  62. Noah says:

    You “adore” Legend and you think it would be ridiculous if someone loved The Goonies? What makes Legend so much better because of Tim Curry’s hammy performance? Seriously? He was more believable in Rocky Horror Picture Show. And again, you mention the beautiful landscape, which is great, but what does that have to do with the substance of the film? And I don’t think the film has passionate defenders so much as people who view it as a cult movie in much the same way that people love Mommie Dearest or Rocky Horror or Rad.
    Thelma and Louise is completely anti-male because there is not a single male character in the film who is not repulsive and that reeks to be of heavy-handedness. It could have been a moving film about what it means to be a woman in this world and how difficult and trying it can be and how it is enough to drive someone to extreme lengths, but it says that all men are evil and that they make women want to drive off a cliff. That is way too pat for me. If you want to see a movie about what it means to be a woman in this world, you should do yourself a favor and see Personal Velocity by Rebecca Miller.
    And Christian, you clearly have a problem with me saying anything that is not a compliment to Sir Ridley because it doesn’t gibe with your point of view. I am more than willing to have a discussion about Ridley Scott, but I would prefer it if people would look at what I’ve written and not take personal cheap shots.

  63. hendhogan says:

    first, i’m not one of the ones knocking you for your age. i think your thinking on some of the films is tainted because what was original then has been copied to death by the time you have gotten around to watching it. hardly the filmmaker’s fault that others have imitated him. it’s the “rocky” montage thing all over again. you aren’t ever going to “get it” through no fault of your own.
    or a better example, “the philadelphia story” was the first film to have two male leads that could have gotten the girl. no one had ever done that before. now, i can watch the film and think “wow, that’s neat” but i can’t actually get into the mindset of someone watching it in the theatre and getting blown away by something new.
    and, yes, carpetmuncher, i’m nixon. you’re on the list too! or you could take the literal implication. your choice.

  64. lazarus says:

    Carpetmuncher: I don’t have a problem saying John Carpenter’s body of work is more impressive. While his work has certainly fallen off in the last 10 years, let’s look at a list of what we’d call the best of each filmmaker:
    Assault on Precinct 13
    The Thing
    The Fog
    Escape From New York
    Big Trouble in Little China
    They Live
    Prince of Darkness
    Blade Runner
    Kingdom of Heaven
    The Duellists
    Matchstick Men
    Black Hawk Down
    Thelma and Louise
    Frankly, I don’t think it’s even close. I had to tack Hannibal on there because I couldn’t even find another Scott film that’s even considered good enough by most people. Ridley is much more diverse in the types of films he’s tried to make, but he can’t claim as many good to great films as Carpenter. JC is just as good at shot composition and visual storytelling, and also has a better sense of humor. As strange as it seems to say it, Carpenter fits in more with the auteur theory than Scott does.

  65. christian says:

    What cheap shots? I said it didn’t matter how old you were except when you fob off uninformed ideas. Like this:
    “And I don’t think the film has passionate defenders so much as people who view it as a cult movie in much the same way that people love Mommie Dearest or Rocky Horror or Rad.”
    That’s just ignorance. Google LEGEND and see how many “I love this movie cos it’s as bad as RAD” sites pop up. The reason Universal released it is because there’s a large cult around the film. It’s a genuine fairy tale suitable for kids and kids-at-heart. I’d rather see that tapestry than cynical crap like SHREK.
    Tim Curry hammy? I bet you’ve seen the film exactly once. It’s a grand operatic performance and even critics who didn’t like it praised his acting.
    “Thelma and Louise is completely anti-male because there is not a single male character in the film who is not repulsive and that reeks to be of heavy-handedness.”
    Except for Harvey Keitel as the police captain trying to get the women to give up. So again, you make a sweeping statement unmatched by reality.
    I never defended Scott’s other films and actually wouldn’t, with HANIBAL being his most foul, cretinous work, but then like many directors, he’s only as good as his material.
    But now that you’ve told me how you really feel about THE GOONIES…

  66. Robert Wyatt says:

    I just wanted to write and in introduce myself, my name is Robert Wyatt and I was the person who wrote the e-mail to Noah. Some of you have said I didn’t sign my name, but as DP notes in bold black print at the end of my e-mail, he took it out for the purposes of anonymity. Whatever the case…I am the guy.
    Reading the responses above, I’m pleased to see a vast majority of people writing in agreed with me, or at least found Noah’s column to be as flawed as I did. With that said, I’m not here to heep on ridicule, I just wanted to respond to a few things that were said…
    FIRST: I agree. I should have picked Always instead of Sugarland, or Lost World instead of Sugarland. What can I say, I was typing fast and trying to name the lesser works in the film maker’s respective filmographies. Similarly, while one person who commented seemed to enjoy Bringing Out The Dead, I’m gonna venture a guess and say that you’re in the minority as I think a lot of people would agree it’s one of the lesser works in the Scorsese oveure. But whatever. I’m not gonna argue that.
    I just want to say one point about the commenter who mentioned the following…
    (And to address a particularly asinine point from Anonymous’s letter, the idea that to appreciate a movie one has to go back and view it from the point of view of a contemporary audience is the biggest cop-out ever. The whole POINT of a classic film is that it stands the test of time. 2001: A SPACE ODYSSEY isn’t great because it was mind-blowing in 1968, it’s great because it’s mind-blowing NOW. If SOME LIKE IT HOT was hilarious in 1959 but sucked now? It wouldn’t be a classic.)
    While this is true, what I was saying (what you misunderstood) is that when a film has as big an effect on other films as something like Blade Runner did, then invariably modern eyes wil never appreciate it as much as those who saw it upon it’s original release. It’s a victim of it’s own success. I would also argue the same thing with the afformentioned Some Like It Hot. So much of Billy Wilder’s work has seeped into the collective unconscious of comedy writers for the past 40-50 years, that the average movie goer is going to come upon the same jokes and routines (most notably the guys dressed in drag schtick, that I realize existed before SLIH, but…) that Some Like It Hot won’t seem as original, as fresh, as groundrbeaking or even as funny as it would have to a 1950’s audience. Same thing with Citizen Kane, to the average movie goer, it will never seem as revolutionary as it will to those of us who understand what effect it had on cinema and how no filmmaker previous to Welles had developed such a sophisticated sense of the (for lack of a better term) “language of cinema.” All films will invariably suffer from this, and that was my point in speaking about Blade Runner, which still visually dominates most everything else that’s out there.
    In speaking about Thelma & Louise I simply meant that some understanding of the time it took place in (and was commenting on) is necessary. The plot point that Noah mentions having so much trouble with I think is handeled in a pretty convincing manner. I don’t think there’s any question that Callie Khouri makes a good argument for why these characters would do what they do and fear what they fear (going to jail for killing a guy in spite of the fact it was self defense). By modern standards it’s a fair argument, but particularly during that time, I remember a lot of defense attorneys questioning the merit of a rape victims claims with the old stand by that she “was asking for it.” Nowadays that’s insulting, but 16 years ago it was a valid argument in court. That’s what Khouri is writing about and it helps to understand that there may be some historical reality you’re not aware of when you comment on something like that. Otherwise, you might as well just ask why Martin Sheen doesn’t use a GPS to get him up the river in Apocolypse Now. Well…it was a different time, that wasn’t an option then.
    Finally, I’d just like to say – one of the biggest reasons I respect Scott (and one of the biggest reasons why T&L is one of my favorite films, and why Noah’s column pissed me off so much) is because of what he’s able to do with a script, the world he’s able to envision. On paper, T&L is two women talking. Not a hell of a lot happens aside from the shooting of the rapist. It’s a lot of conversation, a lot of driving, and a lot about feelings. For all intents and purposes it’s a “small” film with not much scope. But Ridley turns it into so much more. Not only does it become cinematic but he’s able to make these women mythic characters. His work elevates that material into something much bigger and much deeper. I think T&L should be taught to aspiring directors it’s such a brilliant work (and this subject requires more time and explanation that I have here, but…I’m a fan is my point).
    Also, another thing I admire about Scott is (and this probably shouldn’t be included in an argument about the merit of the films, but…) the sheer logistics he takes on in each of his projects. Take Blackhawk Down for instance. Not only does he build a Somali city in Morocco, he trucks in so much military equiptment and personel that it could literally be classified as the US Military invading Morocco (see the BHD making of documentary for further clarification). That’s just an awesome feet. And to know that a lot of his movies have the same basic demands on production (Gladiator, KoH, Blade Runner, American Gangster, etc.) is truly remakrable and made all the more awe inspiring when you understand that every element of those logistics contributes to a vision he’s crafted from nothing. I mean, Scorsese has always impressed with his shot-by-shot construction and how brilliantly things are envisioned in his mind and then brought to life on set, but in comparison to what Scott seems to take on – on almost every picture, it really is…well, I can’t say enough.
    Anyway, just wanted to add those thoughts. I know I can get quite verbose so I appreciate people taking the time to read all this.

  67. brack says:

    “i think your thinking on some of the films is tainted because what was original then has been copied to death by the time you have gotten around to watching it. hardly the filmmaker’s fault that others have imitated him.”
    which movies are you referring to specifically?

  68. hendhogan says:

    “alien” specifically. probably “blade runner” too.

  69. Noah says:

    Christian, I didn’t say how I felt about Goonies, but if you insist…I think it’s a great kids movie that I loved when I was younger, but that I really don’t have much of an interest in now except for sentimental reasons. You see Tim Curry in Legend as giving a grand operatic performance, I see hammy and I can’t see what you see despite having seen the film multiple times and I just don’t think we’ll come to an agreement on that.
    “Except for Harvey Keitel as the police captain trying to get the women to give up. So again, you make a sweeping statement unmatched by reality.”
    He’s the best that men have to offer, apparently? A guy who tells them to GIVE UP on their journey towards empowerment? Yeah, he’s swell.
    As for Robert, he’s clearly a smart and passionate guy and I just wish he wouldn’t insist that I am WRONG for having a different opinion. I appreciate his input (minus hoping that I get hit by lightning). I’d also like to point out that just because you have the loudest voice or the snarkiest attitude, that doesn’t make you more right me. I want to have a discussion every time I write an article, but I don’t want to have an argument. Some of you might think that speaking ill of Ridley is “fightin’ words” but I never call him a bad filmmaker, I simply just don’t rate him as highly as you guys do. And you know what? That should be okay.

  70. brack says:

    I don’t know, I think Blade Runner is one of the most visually impressive movies to ever hit the screen, and I only saw it for the first time 10 years ago. That said, the story was so lacking, especially in the last half, that I was utterly disappointed. I’d rather look at stick figures in a good story than all the special effects in the world with a crappy story. I didn’t care for one second about any of the characters in Blade Runner.

  71. christian says:

    “A guy who tells them to GIVE UP on their journey towards empowerment? Yeah, he’s swell.”
    Who says their journey is just about empowerment? He’s not painted as a repulsive swill at all. He actually cares about them and understands due to Sarandon’s rape. See, that’s the kinda AICN comment that’s getting you all this mad attention.

  72. brack says:

    “He’s the best that men have to offer, apparently? A guy who tells them to GIVE UP on their journey towards empowerment? Yeah, he’s swell.”
    that’s a pretty nice cop if you ask me.

  73. Noah says:

    Keep calling it an AICN comment, Christian, but what are you doing? What is their journey for if not for empowerment, then? It’s about hitting the open road and going solo, away from all the men in their lives and Keitel says, “don’t do that, it’s too dangerous, it’s not worth it” and he’s completely unsympathetic to their plight. He cares about them in a condescending way, so the best that men can offer according to the film is a man who does not view them as equals at all, thinking that he knows what’s best for their interests.

  74. The Carpetmuncher says:

    Lazarus, nice stuff on Ridley/Carpenter.
    I have to say, Carpenter looks to have the more impressive filmography, especially if like me you do not hold films like Matchstick Men, Legend, Hannibal or Gladiator in high esteem, or any esteem.
    And I don’t think there is any questiont that Carpenter is the greater “auteur”. Most of Ridley’s movies seem like work for hire jobs. Not that there is anything wrong with that. But it seems pretty clear that Ridley’s filmography holds together because of his visual style and not because of any interest in a particular subject matter and theme.
    Brack, your take on Blade Runner is basically what my take is. Yes, visually provocative. But the story and characters just didn’t do it for me. No matter which cut you watch. You can’t deny that the film has been influential, but being influential hardly means it’s a great film. The two things can be mutually exclusive. And in this case, I believe they are.
    As to Robert Wyatt’s point that Ridley is able to film things on a massive scale, and manage all of that movie madness, I agree that is an impressive skill. But it is also one Michael Bay show everytime he makes a film. Love him or hate him, you can’t deny that Michael Bay can run a set. But in Bay’s case, the films are just…awful.
    By which I mean, just because you can marshall a huge movie crew doesn’t mean you are a great filmmaker (or a bad one). It just means you got to play with all the toys.
    And Goonies rocks. It’s so much better than Legend it isn’t even a contest.

  75. hendhogan says:

    so, i guess we’re just ignoring michael madsen’s character too, then. you know, the guy that brings the life savings of sarandaon instead of just wiring it and offers to marry her, but gets rejected.
    what a jerk.
    i’m also curious on your take on keitel, noah. to me, he’s saying come back from the edge, much like you would try to talk to a jumper from a rooftop. he’s saying there’s still hope.

  76. Dellamorte says:

    Harvey is saying he understands, and he will try and keep them out of jail, it has nothing to do with denying them anything, he’s saying “not all Southerners are idiot rednecks.” Also, Michael Madsen’s character is actually playing the Katherine Ross role in the film.
    I had never thought before that the movie ends with the protagonists – having previously exploded a giant phallus – flying into the world’s biggest vagina. I can get behind that.

  77. Dellamorte says:

    Legend may be a failure, but in regards to The Goonies, again, it’s what you want in a film. The Goonies is a movie that doesn’t try very hard, and is a very easy film from a director who is about two degrees above being a hack. Legend is a film that doesn’t come together, but has a wonderful visual sense, and some marveous elements that don’t gel. The Goonies may be more palatable, but on a level of artistic vision, it is McDonalds. Is there more value in a failed attempt at something grander? I would argue yes.

  78. Wrecktum says:

    I’ve always wanted to know what it would be like to be stuck in a mental institution. After reading all of this, I now do.

  79. brack says:

    LOL, that was great Wrecktum.

  80. Noah says:

    I always looked at Madsen’s character as being so subserviant as to not be an equal. The film never has a man that understands them truly, doesn’t care about what they need, they just try to fit these women into the boxes that they want to. But look, I don’t have the movie memorized so some details might be a bit hazy. Either way, I think there are much better films that promote female empowerment and equality and I don’t think it’s as “groundbreaking” as some folks do. But, if you got more out of it, then I applaud you and I wish I felt the way you felt.

  81. Dellamorte says:

    Could you back that argument up with specifics? That’s sort of the problem here.

  82. IOIOIOI says:

    Wrecktum; you are acting as if Noah is your dick and it owes you money. So… really… come off of it man :D.

  83. jeffmcm says:

    Wow, I’ve been missing out. I don’t have time to read the entire thread but I agree that when Ridley is good, he’s pretty good, and when he’s bad, he’s competent and hollow. He’s not an auteur, he’s a craftsman with nothing particular to say except ‘things are pretty’.

  84. Noah says:

    IO, what are you really adding to the discourse? You’re essentially doing what Sal does in the bathroom at work.
    Dellamorte, as I say, it’s hard to come up with specifics since I haven’t just seen the film. But, the whole film is predicated on the fact that women can’t trust male authority in this patriarchal society, which may be true, but doesn’t promote gender equality. The women in this film are seen as tougher, smarter and better than the men and I think that’s a great thing, but it doesn’t make it a good movie and is actually anti-feminist in the way it holds women up as better than men. I think that the first section of Personal Velocity deals with these issues more humanely and sensitively than the entire running time of Thelma and Louise.

  85. jeffmcm says:

    The fact that the movie ends with T&L driving into a giant vagina doesn’t suggest that the movie really thinks that women have a bright future in a male-dominated society. You could call that ‘bleak’ if you want.

  86. brack says:

    “The Goonies may be more palatable, but on a level of artistic vision, it is McDonalds.”
    Last I checked no one got obese from watching The Goonies. 😉

  87. Dellamorte says:

    I didn’t know that Thelma and Louise had to promote gender equality. I thought it was a feminine response piece of empowerment that cast Butch Cassidy and Sundance as women. I mean, is this a semiotic reading your attempting? Do you not like, say The Wild Bunch because 95% of the women in the film are whores?
    I think the women in Thelma and Louise make a shitload of mistakes, are scared, but are heroic nonetheless.

  88. jeffmcm says:

    I wouldn’t argue that, but it is a lower-expectations position for that film to take.

  89. Noah says:

    If a woman had a problem with Butch Cassidy because the women are not represented well, then I couldn’t argue with that. As a man, I have an issue with the portrayal of men in the film and as a pseudo-feminist polemic it fails because feminism inherently focuses on gender equality. But if you don’t see it as a feminist film and want to remove the subtext from the film, then what is it that is so special about it? If you stick to the surface of the film, I still don’t find it to be a terribly engaging film and found that the film kind of drifts aimlessly (like with the whole Brad Pitt sequence, which is incidentally the most enjoyable of the whole film but it doesn’t really fit with the rest) and I don’t have a clear view of what opinion it is trying to express.

  90. Dellamorte says:

    It’s a genre picture with a feminist deconstructive slant of a genre picture, it’s not trying to create a polemic. I feel like your arguing your position to argue it. Boring? It’s a tightly plotted narrative.

  91. Noah says:

    Dellamorte, how about this? Maybe we just have different views on the movie? I don’t want to argue at all actually; I really wish we could all just be friends and have friendly discussions and not have arguments. You call it a tightly plotted narrative, but I found it to be meandering and I mentioned why. But sometimes people see things and have two different reactions to what they see and that’s okay, even if some people on here think that that’s unacceptable. As is often the case, eventually when having a disagreement about a film, we must agree to disagree.

  92. brack says:

    The portrayal of men? Dude, it’s the story. It’s your problem if you don’t like that they made certain characters the way they are. I hate to break this to you, but there really are scumbags in this world, and women probably see them at their worst more than men. Maybe that’s the point.

  93. Noah says:

    Okay, brack, it’s my fault that I didn’t like the movie. Either way, I didn’t like it. Satisfied?

  94. Dellamorte says:

    Yeah, but if you find it meandering, it’s likely because you may not be aware of all that is going on. That’s why I’m still talking about it. I think, I think what about 65% of the people arguing against you are arguing that there are things you may have missed about these films. To a certain extent I agree with the argument that Scott is more craftsman than Auteur, because I don’t know if he has a lot of great thematic concerns, though I definitely think there is a through-line. But he is a meticulous craftsman, and if you can’t see the intelligence, and the craft of his art… That’s too bad, but it also suggests your analysis of his work is not well considered. Some may argue that all opinions are worth exploring, but I disagree.

  95. Noah says:

    For the last time, Dellamorte, I never said that Ridley Scott wasn’t a good filmmaker or that he was a bad one or that he was less than intelligent or that he was evil. I can see that he makes beautiful movies, but if you want to blame me for not feeling enough emotion, warmth or connection to the characters in his films, then fine. I understand him and his films just fine, thank you, I just don’t understand them the way you want me to.

  96. brack says:

    “Okay, brack, it’s my fault that I didn’t like the movie. Either way, I didn’t like it. Satisfied?”
    I was just trying to zero you in a the major theme of the film. It’s more than okay that you didn’t like it.

  97. IOIOIOI says:

    Noah? Discourse? This is silly. You have been beat about the head enough. Let’s move on to something else… I’M BEGGIN YA!

  98. Noah says:

    Yes, let’s do. I love you all, even the ones who want me dead 🙂

  99. doug r says:

    So, what’s the big deal with Kubrick?

  100. brack says:

    Kubrick’s overrated.

  101. tjfar67 says:

    Mark my words…Kubrick will NEVER work in this town again!!!

  102. jeffmcm says:

    Dellamorte, craft without purpose is meaningless.

  103. Dellamorte says:

    Yes. But I wouldn’t say Scott is without purpose. This, of course, goes both ways, purpose without craft is just as insufferable.

  104. jeffmcm says:

    It’s a tradeoff. And I wouldn’t say that every Ridley movie is purposeful. He has more than one white elephant on his resume.

  105. Dellamorte says:

    I walked out of GI Jane. But filmmakers are all about the batting averages. Only Charles Laughton can truly claim a 100% record of genius.

  106. jeffmcm says:

    Sure, but in my opinion Ridley is still below .500.

  107. Dellamorte says:

    I would say you only need one truly great film to be a genius, and I would argue that he has a couple films that could qualify him for such a moniker.

  108. jeffmcm says:

    I wouldn’t disagree with that concept, either, but I also don’t think Ridley has ever directed a single truly great film, not on par with the best work in cinema history.

  109. brack says:

    I haven’t thought about Ridley Scott’s films this much since…..well…..never.

  110. IOIOIOI says:

    Whose films do you think about? This is just hokey hater shit in this thread. It’s just hokey.

  111. anghus says:

    honestly, as i watch this thread grow and grow, it just proves one of the first and only internet adages on achieving some level of success.
    1. find something people love
    2. piss on it or act as though it’s not as great as others claim
    3. wait for the hate
    im sure in the regular press, there was some guy 40 years ago who said “I just don’t get all the admiration for Orson Wells.”
    It’s hardly original. It comes from the worst of places. It does nothing to further a real discussion on film. So Noah doesn’t feel an emotional connection. How do you argue that?
    All it serves to do is make Noah look as if he’s controversial. It’s a sad ploy. A rookie mistake. Everyone makes them.
    Let’s just all put it away and move on.

  112. Noah says:

    I was not trying to be incendiary or controversial, I was just giving my opinion not a statement of fact. I did my best to argue my point in 2500 words, but somehow yoyu still think I was “pissing” on Ridley Scott? I don’t rate the man as highly as some people do. In the future, though, I’ll remember that if 60 percent of people love somebody then my opinion is meaningless despite the fact that a lot of people actually agreed with me.
    But please, please, let’s move on. This is not enjoyable for me to be asked to be hit by lightning and called names.

  113. ManWithNoName says:

    Of course you are entitled to your opinion on Ridley Scott. But you are very fortunate to have space with which to write about whatever you want. Your opinion of Ridley Scott would have been easier to digest in one or two sentences in an American Gangster review. When you can write about anything, why specifically write an article called “Person X – Overrated?”? Of course it’s incendiary and controversial – the fact that many highly rate Scott means that your contrarian opinion is going to stir the pot.

  114. FlipSpiceland says:

    If it’s not enjoyable for you to be asked to be hit by lightning and called names I would suggest you get out of the internet racket – it kind of comes with the territory. Thick skin is a prerequisite, my friend.
    The other thing I would suggest is to take the time to better perfect your craft. Your argument was not well supported. It comes across as very first-year film school (sorry to bring up the age thing, but it’s apparent) and with the general tone of “I don’t like Ridley Scott’s films because…well, just because.”
    You did “piss” on the man’s work and you can’t own up to it. You went through almost every one of his films and gave a laundry list of things like ” ‘Aliens’ is better than ‘Alien’ because Weaver says ‘Get away from her you bitch!’ ” That’s the level of discourse you presented and that’s what some of the people here are railing against. You picked a fight you weren’t really able to carry out, plain and simple.
    And since you seem to like this particular expletive and it’s mere presence elevates a film for you, I would remind you that Weaver delivers a similar line – “You bitch!” – in “Alien” as she fails to deactivate the self-destruct mechanism on the ship. Does that add a star or two to your review?
    As for jeffmcm’s contention that Scott has never directed a truly great film – What’s “Alien”?

  115. ManWithNoName says:

    I don’t know how long you’ve been reading here, but jeffmcm’s contentions can usually be ignored.

  116. Noah says:

    For the last time, I never called the man a bad filmmaker. I simply stated that many people enjoy his films more than I do and I stated my reasons for not loving the films that some people do. I mentioned every one of his films and stated my reasoning behind it, if you didn’t agree well then you’ve made that clear.
    Just because I don’t enjoy being told to be hit by lightning doesn’t mean that I’m sitting here crying about it. I have a very thick skin and I’m comfortable about my stance, thank you.
    And ManWithNoName, I wrote about Ridley Scott because American Gangster was coming out and I hadn’t seen it at the time I wrote the article so I figured it would be interesting to take a look back at the man’s career. I like to look at the history of filmmakers to put into perspective what this next film means to their career and to my reaction to their work. Maybe it was incendiary, but I wasn’t attempting to be, I just write the articles that as a fan of film I would want to read. As a result, many of you have gotten to air your feelings about Ridley Scott publicly and I can see that a lot of you really do love the man’s work and that’s why IN MY EYES, he is rated too highly.
    I’m going over the same points now and I think we should all just AGREE TO DISAGREE.

  117. ManWithNoName says:

    Dammit, Noah, I won’t stop until you’re blubbering like a little girl over your keyboard!! 🙂
    Unlike most Ridley defenders (if they are to be believed), I actually look forward to your next piece. I’ve yet to make one friend who has agreed with me on every single movie. Heck, I read Ebert the most, and we probably only agree 60% of the time.

  118. FlipSpiceland says:

    You’re going over the same points because your argument is thin. See-through.
    IN YOUR EYES, Ridley Scott is rated “too highly” because a lot of people “really do love the man’s work”? That’s your argument?
    No, of course it’s not. The trouble here is that you haven’t fully developed as a writer. You have trouble getting your points across.
    Yes, you mentioned every one of his films, but you haven’t seen “The Duellists”. That’s a big omission. You also talk about looking at the history of a filmmaker to determine the perspective their latest film has on their work. You did that in a very superficial way. You didn’t look deeper into the films. You didn’t look at the situations that helped in the creation of the films. If you want to nail Scott on something, you should have went after his crisis of confidence in the mid 80s which led to a stream of underwhelming films and multiple director’s cuts. I don’t remember critics hailing his return to form with “Gladiator” as anything but – a return to what his earliest films promised. It was the current run in the 00s and a re-evaluation of his earlier work that elevated him to the status you find overrated.
    A huge flaw in your argument is your assertion that Scott lacks the visual acuity of some of his competition. If that’s not a non-starter, I don’t know what is. But don’t write these flimsy pieces and expect not to be called on them.
    And of course because of this furor and despite your protests of having thick skin, we all know you’ll be entering “American Gangster” with extreme prejudice. I look forward to your assertion that “it’s not very good because it doesn’t look like ‘Superfly’, so it fails at being a blaxploitation film. Nyah nyah nyah.”
    ManWithNoName: As a longtime lurker here and at Wells’ joint, I’m quite familiar with jeffmcm.

  119. amble84 says:

    I just saw American Gangster, and I have to say: it’s really much ado about nothing. Despite solid performances all around the film is over-long, riddled with plot problems and inconsistencies, and though it makes gestures towards some greater meaning, it leaves the audience empty.
    It’s neither realistic and complex enough to be a great Oscar-type film (ie. Gladiator), nor stylish and fun enough to be a popcorn masterpiece (ie. The Departed).
    I also think it will have trouble making it’s enormous budget back.

  120. amble84 says:

    I just saw American Gangster, and I have to say: it’s really much ado about nothing. Despite solid performances all around the film is over-long, riddled with plot problems and inconsistencies, and though it makes gestures towards some greater meaning, it leaves the audience empty.
    It’s neither realistic and complex enough to be a great Oscar-type film, nor stylish and fun enough to be a popcorn masterpiece (ie. The Departed, or Gladiator).
    I also think it will have trouble making it’s enormous budget back.

  121. Noah says:

    Flip, I actually quite liked American Gangster just like I enjoyed Black Hawk Down and Matchstick Men. I have no prejudices against the man, I simply am not as big a fan of his overall body of work as you. If you think the piece is thing, then I don’t know what to tell you except that I’m sorry it didn’t work for you. I write what I want to read and if you don’t like it, you don’t have to read it.
    This is going to be my last post on this topic, so read closely: I never said I hated Ridley Scott. I don’t put him in the same category as the folks I consider to be “masters” (Kubrick, Bergman, Truffaut, etc.), but some people put Scott right there and I disagree with that. I wrote an article trying to illustrate that. If you didn’t agree, then fine. If you hate me and my opinions, don’t read my work. Film is subjective and my opinions are just that, MY OPINIONS. I’m not going to cave in and say, “you know what, you’re right, Ridley Scott is a genius.” Even if I did, it would be a hollow victory for you. So for the last time, let’s agree to disagree. I keep saying this and every time, someone has to say, “no, I don’t want to agree to disagree because you’re stupid.” Okay, I’m stupid, let’s move on because you’re not saying anything of content.

  122. amble84 says:

    American Gangester IS enjoyable and certainly compelling — it’s good efficient film-making, and as I said before, it’s very well acted. But it’s also ultimately very forgettable, hollow at it’s core. Unlike a truly great film–like, say, a Goodfellas or a Godfather–you don’t walk out thinking this will change your life. It’s a hard film to love.

  123. brack says:

    It’s also amazingly predictable.

  124. FlipSpiceland says:

    Noah, I’m happy that it looks like your most recent post is your last on this subject because your constant trope of “It’s my opinion and if you don’t like it that’s too bad” is wearing thin as the original piece itself. Again, don’t write something as inflammatory and wafer-thin as the piece was and expect love letters.
    I don’t think you’re stupid, just not ready for this particular argument. (But kudos to you for not taking the easy road and dumping on Tony Scott. That’s just as tiring.)
    And where did I say I was a fan of Scott’s overall body of work? Nowhere did I state that. You inferred it. I just pointed out the flaws in your piece and that your statment that he isn’t as talented visually as some was ludicrous. He’s sort of made his career on his visual style – some say to a fault. I like a few of his films, but I don’t think there’s one filmaker who has hit on every work. Charles Laughton, maybe – h/t to Dellamorte.
    I probably won’t be going out of my way to read further pieces with your byline in the future – mostly due to attention grabbing headers like “Who is the Next Scorsese? and “Ridley Scott – Overrated?” – but I wish you luck and continued growth.

  125. bmcintire says:

    THE GOONIES. Ugh. The only thing Richard Donner ever directed that I could even stand was THE OMEN. And maybe LADYHAWKE. Now there is a director that deserves a good viviscetion.

  126. brack says:

    No love for Superman? Lethal Weapon?

  127. hendhogan says:

    if i may offer some constructive criticism (and even if i can’t). you wrote a subjective article without laying the groundwork. the standards you used were your own, but the reader doesn’t know what those standards are and you didn’t communicate them.
    you say he shouldn’t be considered a “master” without really saying what a “master” was. top five director, top ten, top twenty? where should mr. scott be rated? then, it can be argued overrated.
    if you want to hide behind it’s YOUR OPINION, fine. i have a ton of unpopular opinions i don’t share. you wrote the article to share your opinion, i presume. to a lot, you didn’t back your opinion well. you didn’t set any parameters and, sadly, our mindmeld that allowed me instantaneous access to the inner workings of your mind, malfunctioned.
    now, you can’t please everyone. but i think if you couched your argument better, there would be less brickbacks.

  128. JSThompson says:

    I understand if you think it’s ok to make statements from a judgement of whether or not something is overrated or underrated. Lot’s of folks seem to agree, including many film critics, and, like I said, it may be a semantic argument.
    But, again, I think it reveals a position of arrogance when you talk about things being rated. I personally prefer when a critic speaks about his or her reaction to a particular thing, rather than spend time talking about their perception about how people are reacting to it.
    You may think BLADE RUNNER is well-regarded by many, but that’s not the impression I have of it at all.
    But, the bottom line on this is that it bugs me when a critic or anyone dissemination their opinion talks from a position that they’re opinion is the correct one, and any other opinion is either an over- or underrating… in other words, it’s wrong.
    I don’t need a critic or anyone to tell me that I’m wrong in my opinion of movies, nor do I want it. I don’t think you do either.
    This may seem like a semantic argument but this mindset colors the kind of work that critics do. Someone who thinks its their job to tell me how to think about movies isn’t interesting at all; someone who tells me what they think about movies (or music, and so on) is.
    Ages ago I read a quote from a movie critic who, responding to a question regarding the criticism of another critic, said (in paraphrase), “I don’t review other people’s reviews. I review films.”

  129. Aladdin Sane says:

    Like a few others are saying, it is not your opinion that is the problem, it’s how you went about writing it out.
    Criticism and creative writing aren’t one and the same. When creating an argument as to why so-and-so is overrated, your subjective opinion has to be read as objective, as if you were the last and final authority on the matter at hand.
    Your context for the take-down was trite and ineffective. I could not care less if you like Ridley Scott or not, but the way you went about it made me angry. I was actually ready to defend Scott’s lesser films because of the utter lack of respect in your tone. The flippant remarks wear thin pretty quickly.
    You like Truffaut & Kubrick, which is great – you probably mentioned those two in your first article posted – but most people don’t remember that. You need to provide that context again, stating how you don’t believe Scott ranks with those masters.
    Writing criticism is not an easy task. It seems that many critics in our age range (I’m 26) have not done as much work in watching film as you have during the past 14 years. I don’t see 100+ films in a theater, or even on DVD – probably most of ’em haven’t either. Set yourself apart by using that knowledge of other films that people may or may not have seen without being pretentious.
    You are not a crappy writer, as some have stated, but you did not write a good argument this time out. I’m sure you’ll land on your feet though and don’t take it personally. It’s the nature of the beast.

  130. bmcintire says:

    None whatsoever.
    None of the incarnations of SUPERMAN have worked for me (especially not the director’s cut of II). As for the LETHAL WEAPON series, even Walter Hill did better with similar material, and he at least had the good graces to step away from the franchise after one sequel.

  131. brack says:

    That’s easy to say, considering there weren’t any more 48 Hours sequels.

  132. THX5334 says:

    Oh man, I don’t know where to begin.
    I’m sitting in Buena Vista, Mexico near Cabo San Lucas. I’m supposed to be out fishing with my brother because he is a professional fly fishing guide out here
    (If anyone is into that, for real, I can hook you up with a great vacation package through my brother. He’s been featured in Field and Stream and on ESPN and the Versus network. I love how I’m the actor/filmmaker in the family yet he’s been on TV way more than I have. How’s that for karma?)
    It’s too windy on the ocean to fish, so I thought I’d check the internet to see if there’s a strike or not and if I’m going to be affected. I checked the Hot Blog and found this thread. Oh. My. God.
    Noah, I haven’t read your article. I’m not in a position to do that now, so I’m commenting just based on the thread.
    I don’t know if your writing structure on your article merits the criticism it’s been getting, because I haven’t read it.
    But on general consensus I do believe there’s merit in your opinon. Ridley is a great filmmaker. Yet I haven’t seen any of his ardent defenders define how he is an auteur by defining either: a visual or thematic through line in his body of work that makes it distinctive from all other films. I have not seen anything in Scott’s work that would demonstrate the litmus test for what I feel is an auteur. Essentially for me it is: Not knowing who made the film, You can catch a moment from any part of the film and immidiately identify who the filmmaker is because of their thematic or visual composition as defined by some type of throughline from their entire catalogue of work.
    As for the responses towards your age and writing. I personally feel you have shown more emotional maturity and intelligence in your responses than those that supposedly are your wiser elders. (For the record I’m 33 and am older)
    I am especially embarrassed for Poland’s response at the top of this thread and for Sascha (Bi-pedalist)
    Sascha, I am sorry for whatever hard knocks life has brought you; but if you feel negative feedback and discourse and essentially getting kicked in the nuts is good medicine for becoming a good artist or writer, than please go see a therapist and work out those issues. Because it is not good for anyone what has happend here. Your viewpoint really depresses me.
    While I’m opening myself up for attack, I have to say I am embarrased right now to be a part of this community and embarrased for many of the posts here.
    Whatever Noah’s film credentials may be. He has shown more emotional maturity and social grace than even the one who hosts his articles.
    I for one will now be reading his articles more often.
    Search your gut Noah, take the feedback that has merit and keep at it.

  133. jeffmcm says:

    Flipspiceland, I think Alien is Ridley’s best film, and it’s a very good film, but if we’re talking ‘greatest of all time’ then it doesn’t belong. I mean, it’s no Rules of the Game/2001/Citizen Kane, to pick three ‘greatest of all time’ movies at random.

  134. Thing is, none of us are being paid to sit down at a computer and write about a pet peeve. Noah is and as such he has a responsibility to do so in a clear manner. We don’t have to defend our position that we think Ridley Scott is a great director, but Noah should know better than to simply throw some words onto a screen and expect everyone to get along.
    As others have stated, I don’t give two hoots whether Noah thinks Ridley Scott is overrated or anything else in his piece, but it’s just that the piece was so flippant and had the anger of a mouse. It didn’t even have passion to it. I remember reading Noah’s piece about Sienna Miller and wanting to see Interview so I could go along with it because I sensed he was very passionate. With the Scott piece it was just… there. There wasn’t anger, there was just an argument that wasn’t very well thought out (you like some of his movies and you haven’t even seen movies that people say are “classics”). Maybe if he researched more and were really passionate about the subject? I just didn’t get any of that. And so when someone is just so blase about it people get feisty.
    …did that make any sense?

  135. JPK says:

    Now that the dust has settled, I’d like to emphatically state that I also do not hold Sir Ridley in high regard. I also hate Baby Jesus. Just hate the little bastard.

  136. JPK says:

    Now that the dust has settled, I’d like to emphatically state that I also do not hold Sir Ridley in high regard. I also hate Baby Jesus. Just hate the little bastard.

  137. JPK says:

    Wow. Triple post. I guess I pissed off Baby Jesus.

  138. Kambei says:

    Judging by his use of the term “Ultrahack” as a synonym for Ridley Scott, it would seem that Armond White may not believe Mr. Scott to be a master…

  139. christian says:

    I think Armond’s critique is dead on.
    I’m sick of America glorifying gansters of all stripes. As well made as THE SOPRANOS was, that’s exactly what it did.
    And thus we get bully gangsters like George Bush.

  140. Ummm…America was built on violent bullying so are the examples you used really “glorifying” or just stating a fact. We’re still bullies today as well. We love us some bullying.

The Hot Blog

Quote Unquotesee all »

It shows how out of it I was in trying to be in it, acknowledging that I was out of it to myself, and then thinking, “Okay, how do I stop being out of it? Well, I get some legitimate illogical narrative ideas” — some novel, you know?

So I decided on three writers that I might be able to option their material and get some producer, or myself as producer, and then get some writer to do a screenplay on it, and maybe make a movie.

And so the three projects were “Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep,” “Naked Lunch” and a collection of Bukowski. Which, in 1975, forget it — I mean, that was nuts. Hollywood would not touch any of that, but I was looking for something commercial, and I thought that all of these things were coming.

There would be no Blade Runner if there was no Ray Bradbury. I couldn’t find Philip K. Dick. His agent didn’t even know where he was. And so I gave up.

I was walking down the street and I ran into Bradbury — he directed a play that I was going to do as an actor, so we know each other, but he yelled “hi” — and I’d forgot who he was.

So at my girlfriend Barbara Hershey’s urging — I was with her at that moment — she said, “Talk to him! That guy really wants to talk to you,” and I said “No, fuck him,” and keep walking.

But then I did, and then I realized who it was, and I thought, “Wait, he’s in that realm, maybe he knows Philip K. Dick.” I said, “You know a guy named—” “Yeah, sure — you want his phone number?”

My friend paid my rent for a year while I wrote, because it turned out we couldn’t get a writer. My friends kept on me about, well, if you can’t get a writer, then you write.”
~ Hampton Fancher

“That was the most disappointing thing to me in how this thing was played. Is that I’m on the phone with you now, after all that’s been said, and the fundamental distinction between what James is dealing with in these other cases is not actually brought to the fore. The fundamental difference is that James Franco didn’t seek to use his position to have sex with anyone. There’s not a case of that. He wasn’t using his position or status to try to solicit a sexual favor from anyone. If he had — if that were what the accusation involved — the show would not have gone on. We would have folded up shop and we would have not completed the show. Because then it would have been the same as Harvey Weinstein, or Les Moonves, or any of these cases that are fundamental to this new paradigm. Did you not notice that? Why did you not notice that? Is that not something notable to say, journalistically? Because nobody could find the voice to say it. I’m not just being rhetorical. Why is it that you and the other critics, none of you could find the voice to say, “You know, it’s not this, it’s that”? Because — let me go on and speak further to this. If you go back to the L.A. Times piece, that’s what it lacked. That’s what they were not able to deliver. The one example in the five that involved an issue of a sexual act was between James and a woman he was dating, who he was not working with. There was no professional dynamic in any capacity.

~ David Simon