Newsbites: War! Ebert! Bourne! Slump!

Just another handful of items here…

1. I’ve added some comments to my War of the Worlds post.

2. Elbert Ventura writes on ‘Roger Ebert’s rise to mediocrity‘ in The New Republic. FWIW, one of the major exhibits in his arsenal is Ebert’s review of the Adam Sandler version of The Longest Yard, which is an interesting conversation piece in its own right.

3. Tony Gilroy is going to write the third Bourne movie, reports; he also wrote The Bourne Identity (2002) and The Bourne Supremacy (2004; my review).

4. That box-office slump we keep hearing about? It’s affecting the rest of the world, too, reports the Los Angeles Times; and that includes Canada, reports the Canadian Press:

Movie attendance at both theatres and drive-ins – there are 54 of them – dropped 4.6 per cent in 2003-2004, halting an upward trend of more than a decade, Statistics Canada reported Tuesday. The lack of movie-goers also hit theatre company revenues and profits. Profits alone fell 15.8 per cent, the motion picture theatres survey showed.

There were nearly 118.2 million tickets sold at movie theatres during the year, nearly five per cent fewer than in 2002-2003.

The decline from 2002-2003 went along with a small increase in the average admission price, which rose to $7.45.

Alberta is the province with the most frequent moviegoers — though it’s still only 4.6 times a year — while Prince Edward Island, Manitoba, and my own British Columbia also rank above the national average of 3.8 trips to the theatres per year.

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  • Comment in Ebert’s review of The Longest Yard: “I often practice a generic approach to film criticism, in which the starting point for a review is the question of what a movie sets out to achieve.”

    I agree with that approach. Doing otherwise is akin to villifying a Smart Car for not being a Lamborghini. I.e., an unfair assessment that is potentially very misleading for readers, to whose expectations it’s arguable critics should have at least a minimum responsibility to address.

    Similar I suppose to the way you might take some pains to identify a Christian or moral angle in anything you review, if such exists, and mention it for the benefit of your particular readership demographic.

    That chap who suggested “reviews should be easy” though (mentioned in your previous post) was a defensive goombah of the lowest sort. A critic is not a cheering squad. And that other guy had a really narrow view of Christians and of Christianity; let’s not be in a hurry to check out his church or congregation anytime soon.

    Ebert is willing to admit that sometimes the emperor really has no clothes, even if he often goes along with the elaborate hoodwink anyway. He has his reasons: “…we are professionals and this is what we do.” As a self-employed communications professional, I have had many occasions to identify with that exact sentiment in similar contexts.

    Those who choose to spurn popular entertainment are perfectly welcome to exclusively enjoy Werner Herzog and Stanislaw Lem, if that’s all that really makes them happy! Myself, I’ll just toddle down to the Paramount Vancouver this weekend with the fetid masses to take in Spielberg’s latest, and consider myself well entertained – if the movie achieves what it sets out to do, that is. Heh.

    Happy Canada Day weekend, folks.