Wednesday, October 20, 2004

5 Cult Classics That Roger Ebert Didn't Get

Here at Film Babble Blog, film critic Roger Ebert is a well respected legend with his wealth of writings referred to often. 

Even when I’ve disagreed with Ebert, his well thought out and cleverly crafted reviews still make powerful points. However, there a number of times that I’ve felt that Mr. Ebert tragically missed the point so here are:

The Top 5 Cult Classics That Roger Ebert Didn't Get:

1. HAROLD AND MAUDE (Dir. Hal Ashby, 1971) Can this be right? Can Ebert truly be among the out-of-it straight laced critics that horribly misjudged this undeniably influential beyond words cult classic? Yep, he only rewards a movie that many friends, collegues, and family have considered one of the best movies ever with one and a half stars. For shame.

2. FIGHT CLUB (Dir. Peter Fincher, 1999) Two stars. Roger loves the first couple of acts but hates the concluding act. This is from a guy who wouldn't know the Pixies if they were stuck on the same elevator. Whatever Ebert, watch it again and tell me how what is set up in the first third would work better done another way and you and me will be square. 

(Dir. Tim Burton, 1988) 

Again 2 stars. Where's the love for Tim Burton's maniacal masterpiece? It’s times like this that you just have to remember this is the guy who gave COP AND A HALF and HOLLYWOOD HOMICIDE rave reviews.

4. HEATHERS (Dir. Michael Lehmann, 1989) Two and a half stars. I mean COME ON! This is a bonafide classic and Ebert's baffled review is painful to read. He writes "Is this a black comedy about murder or just a cynical morality play?" Jesus, Roger - if you have to ask... 

(Dir. D.A. Pennebaker, 1967) 

Okay, so he gave this rock doc three stars, but don't let that fool you. He disses Bob Dylan to such a degree in his review that it's hard to take. I mean, read this sample: “What a jerk Bob Dylan was in 1965. What an immature, self-important, inflated, cruel, shallow little creature, lacking in empathy and contemptuous of anyone who was not himself or his lackey. Did we actually once take this twirp as our folk god?”

Can you believe that? Is Ebert, who wrote two separate reviews of this flick (first in '68 on the movie's original run and then again in '98 on its re-release) that out of touch? I thought it was pretty much accepted that Dylan was putting on those who were asking him square questions and having fun with the media juggernaut. I mean just a couple years before DON’T LOOK BACK was filmed (yes, I’m looking back) Newsweek wrongly accused him of plagiarizing his classic song “Blowing In The Wind,” and countless bandwagon jumpers had co-opted Bob's simple plaintive messages for their own cynical purposes. 

I can't imagine Dylan at that age and time reacting any other way, but to Ebert he's a self serving twirp. I can't quite process this judgement (or lack of). To Ebert's credit he nailed Bob's self indulgent MASKED AND ANONYMOUS monstrosity last year in a scathing review, but that doesn't make right his insulting remarks about one of the most influential film portraits of an artist at his prime in existence.

More later...

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