Things I Won't Write About

October 21, 2008
A thought by James Berardinelli

I have been getting e-mails asking why I haven't written about certain topics and/or issues. So I thought I'd take this opportunity to discuss five things about which there will likely not be independent ReelThoughts entries. (The economy is not among them, because I will continue to discuss it, especially as it impacts movies, home video, and this website.)

1. The Roger Ebert Blog Entry of October 16, 2008 ("Don't Read Me First"). I don't have a lot to say about this subject. When it comes to writing a review about a movie one has not watched in its entirety, that's a judgment call on the part of the writer, as long as he notes (as Roger did) that what he has written is based on a partial viewing. I would have done things differently and written it up as a commentary without a star rating but, as I indicated, that's a judgment call. I know critics (who shall remain nameless) who have written reviews based on partial viewings and have not informed their readers that they didn't see the entire movie. That's a problem - but what Roger did and how he handled it is legitimate. The bottom line is really a question of semantics: Can something be a proper "review" when the critic has only seen 8 out of 90 minutes of the film? Every point Roger makes in his write-up is valid and the piece is worth reading. My only concern is about how the write-up is labeled.

2. The Election. Like everyone else, I have opinions of the two candidates and their running mates, but I'm not going to air them here. That's really for selfish reasons because a lengthy discourse about the subject would turn off a number of my readers. Plus, this is ReelViews not PoliticalViews. When it comes to a politically based motion picture, it's disingenuous for political opinions not to seep into the review. For Bill Maher's Religulous, for example, I believed it necessary to indicate that I was generally in sympathy with Maher's perspective so that the negative tilt would not be construed as the agenda of someone with a strongly pro-religious ax to grind. I could easily write a long essay about politics and the election, but what would be the point? I think the level of political intolerance is irrationally high in this country and I am not interested in further fanning those flames. I can't promise that ReelViews will be a politics-free zone, but it will be close to one.

3. The Phillies. Yes, I went to a couple of NLCS games. No, I didn't write about them here. That's mainly because about 5% of my readers care to any degree about baseball and less than that are interested in the Phillies. I wrote briefly about this last week, but only as a note to explain the decrease in ReelThoughts entries during the post-season period. Yes, I'm thrilled the Phillies have reached the World Series. I'll be more thrilled if they win. If they lose, let's just say the experience won't be a new one. Joe Carter in 1993 remains an indelible impression. (Although, to be honest, Game 4 that year was even more painful because I was there in person, huddled under my umbrella.) It is, however, more likely that I'll reference the Phillies before the end of October than I will the election. And probably only if they win.

4. High School Musical 3. Did anyone seriously think I was going to review this? It's not being screened for critics (no surprise) and I haven't seen the first two. The film's target demographic doesn't overlap that of my readers. And, based on limited exposure to what I have seen on TV, this isn't something I want to subject myself to. Yes, it will be #1 at the box office this weekend, but that's not a good enough reason for me to plunk down $8 on Friday, even if it is an off-day for the World Series.

5. Saw V. I have seen the previous four Saw movies, although I have only reviewed installments #1 and #4. This is not being screened for critics and I have no plans to see it, either theatrically or when it reaches home video. It's a tired franchise, with new installments being churned out simply because they are profitable. That's a deplorable reason for movies to be made, so the best thing for me to do is get off the gravy train and simply ignore this and any subsequent sequels. I dearly wish filmmakers would embrace the spark of originality and make a horror movie that's not a copy of something familiar, a sequel, or a re-make. I once considered myself to be a fan of horror movies, but there have been so few of quality lately that it's difficult to get excited about any such genre entry, especially if there's a number in the title.