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13 Responses

  1. Timothy Meadows says:

    Funny how Criterion’s special features do the heavy lifting for reviewers.

  2. Scott Nye says:

    If that’s a shot at me, you’ll have to elaborate. I’m incredibly dense.

  3. Timothy Meadows says:

    Just funny how much more insight this review has compared to the The Moment of Truth review. For The Moment of Truth Criterion didn’t provide a cultural or historical frame for bullfighting, I guess, or at any rate you allowed your personal perspective to overwhelm the review. While with this review you echoed established and documented perspectives on the movie. In summary, there’s a noticeable difference in your approach to the reviews that’s obviously at least in some part a product of the Criterion special features, and I think that’s funny because it demonstrates the impact the special features have on the viewer.

  4. Scott Nye says:

    Well, it’s a matter of approach. For me, unless I have a unique, personal, or interesting take on the film in question, I treat DVD and Blu-ray reviews as reviews of a product, so I focus more on special features and the technical quality of the transfer, mastering, etc.

    In the case of MOMENT OF TRUTH, I was pretty up front about the fact that I really hate to see animals suffer, and admitted that very well could have clouded my judgment. I did a bit of reading on bullfighting before writing my review, but remain unswayed with regards to any cultural value it might have. In any event, I still reviewed the PRODUCT pretty much without judgment.

    In the case of GODZILLA, I was pretty surprised to learn how urgent its social import was, and thought that angle may be of interest to our readers. If not, well, that’s how it goes sometimes. But this is a major film about which much has been written, so ANY attempt at an intellectual examination would almost inevitably result in regurgitation. Additionally, it’s not a film that means a great deal to me personally, so I had nothing to say that I really felt like I NEEDED to express.

    But if there is some course you’d like the discussion to take, don’t you think it’d be far more fruitful to steer it that way yourself, instead of lambasting me for not doing so? The comments section can be a wonderful forum by which one could discuss any number of things, and just because it’s not touched on above doesn’t mean it’s invalid. Critiquing another writer’s method is fine and all (and trust me, I can take it), but surely you have something real to say about, you know, something besides ME? I think we’ve established I’m not all that interesting.

  5. Timothy Meadows says:

    I look forward to experiencing these releases, which are not yet available to the general public. I’ve made an observation on two pieces of writing I’ve read, just as you made observations on two products you experienced. There’s no reason to lecture me on the comment section’s possibilities when I’m on topic, and I consider your value judgement (i.e. “something real to say”) an indication that you cannot ‘take it’, whatever ‘it’ is, because it’s not a ‘shot’ at you I’m taking, as I already attempted to clarify. I made a comment related to the quality of special features vis-à-vis the experience of viewing the movie, and meant no offense, mmkay.

  6. Scott Nye says:

    Hey, go to town, use the comments section for whatever you want as long as you stay on topic, which you totally are.

    I was specifically curious in this case, as this is hardly the first time you’ve taken me to task for my professionalism, but you seem pretty convinced of your assessment of my character, so hey, more power to you, brother.

  7. Timothy Meadows says:

    Had to Google myself + Battleship Pretension to see what you were referring to, and was surprised to find a comment (a single comment) by me from November 10, 2011 that directly challenged your professionalism. Sorta lol’d because it links to this conversation in a way I neither expected nor considered. I assure you that today’s comment was independent of that previous comment, and that I know nothing of your character other than what you display of it here. Basically, I know very little about your character. This conversation has revealed some things to me, but I’m not sure what, and my original reply was directed toward the article. This conversation is beginning to feel oddly like group therapy, and I bet if I’d said “great article, nice job” a conversation like this wouldn’t have begun. I noticed a thing, I commented on that thing, and this is now the third time I’ll have clarified that it wasn’t meant as an insult.

    If this doesn’t appease you, I’m sorry, I’m literally and truly confused at this point. We should have had a moderator.

  8. Scott Nye says:

    Clearly there was a miscommunication, and I apologize for my end of things. In the end, if you make a comment about the style or structure of a piece of writing, you are making a comment about the author, to which you’re entitled. I assure you I didn’t take it personally, other than that it furthered a trend in online film criticism in which the writer is discussed more than the piece in question. This profession, such as it is, is built around the idea that art is worth discussing, and the most frustrating part of it is when that central goal gets lost – something which we’re all guilty of at one point or another. So whether you leave a good comment or a bad one regarding my choices as a writer, the net result is the same – the movie gets lost in the shuffle.

    Once again, I apologize for not being more clear and forthright earlier. But at the same time, I’d ask that you not presume anything about myself (as you did in declaring that I’d clearly taken your remarks to heart), and take me at my word. In such a forum, that’s all we have anyway.

    Have a good one.

  9. Timothy Meadows says:

    This conversation strikes me as an analog for the potential harms of bad criticism and as support for my initial remark. I wish to rewind and represent my case.

    First, let’s start at the beginning. I arrive at Battleship Pretension looking for the new podcast. I see your article on The Moment of Truth. I think: yes, an article about a title I’ve been anticipating, can’t wait to learn about this movie. I click the article with this reasonable expectation.

    Because I completely agree with you about the central goal of criticism being to discuss and explore art, you can imagine my disappointment when the article began with a use of the first person plural pronoun ‘us.’ Oh no there’s a choir, the writer has placed an opinion of his at the foreground of the discussion. You probably remember that the article began with an indictment on bullfighting, a view which should exist independent of the merits of Francesco Rosi’s film, as the pronouncement seems to suggest that the function of criticism is not purely art bound, but has elements of individual perspective as well.

    I read further. You describe the film as “complex and honest” but make no mention of what’s complex. Is it complex because you oppose violence against animals and Rosi shows violence against animals? How is that objectively complex? You say Rosi contrasts the torero’s career “against the violence he commits to get there,” but you don’t explore the value of this contrast, or what it signifies, and the next sentence is about the “pure, violent nature” of the bullfighting (smacking my forehead already). You then say he weaves the footage and how it’s horrific (ok, ok), artful, honest, and probing – but you’ve only described the horrific element of this sentence! Then you deliver the blow of “it’s couched in a central story of much less relevance.” I still only know one thing about the story!!! Only one thing, that it has to do with a career of bullfighting. This I can tell by the cover.

    “The horror of the bullfighting was a little too overpowering,” co-exists, laughably, in a paragraph with “I’m not easily rattled by these sorts of things.” You were rattled, the film is about a bullfighter, and it’s in documentary form. These are the things I know after two paragraphs. You mention that Rosi’s “concerns exist so far outside of his central story that one’s own interest in it could vary tremendously,” but again fail to mention what the story is. Is a story about the rise of a torero seriously so commonplace that you don’t think it’s worth detailing? Is this a variant on Vicente Blasco Ibáñez’s famous Blood and Sand, the same story?

    The next paragraph is tech related, sure, fine. The next two paragraphs are special features relate, sure, fine.

    And then, I swear, you begin the final paragraph with “Ultimately, if you have the stomach for it, the film may prove worthwhile yet.” Why may it be worthwhile? I’m seriously dying to know!! Seriously. You then mention AGAIN its documentary qualities and its violence (JESUS), and end, almost ridiculously, with “it’s undoubtedly an urgent, provocative piece of art, so I’d never write it off entirely. If its main story had similar qualities, I may be more willing to laud the film accordingly.” Why is it urgent and provocative? It was provocative to you because you are offended by bullfighting and cannot even imagine why anyone would appreciate the sport, which you don’t give a cultural context for, but of the art of the film and how it may be urgent and provocative you make no mention. What are the qualities of its main story and where was that discussion? I’m glad you’d be “willing” to laud the film you want to talk so little about. If you indeed mean the depictions of violence are urgent and provocative then what, besides your well-established opposition to animal cruelty, make them urgent and provocative? If it’s the story of animal cruelty and it engulfed you, than why not say that, why say it’s the story of a torero?

    For those who have missed it: bullfighting is violent and Scott Nye is against it. Read his review to find out all about it.

    Then I click your Godzilla review. It begins with another extraneous conversation about geek culture or some shit. There’s a whole paragraph about that with a final sentence that tells me Godzilla is important. But why?

    Well, the next paragraph actually tells me! You discuss the film’s social relevance, which, from what I gather, you learned from the Criterion special features. I’m reading a special features review, okay. That’s fine. You talk about morality and no clear answers, cool. This paragraph ends with the subjective statement, “I don’t hold it in nearly the same esteem that others do.” And why not end with this sentence? There’s no rule that says we can’t discuss ourselves as we discuss art. In fact, art isn’t a science, art is a discussion of ourselves, so it makes perfect sense. Of course I learn something about Godzilla by knowing that Scott Nye doesn’t hold it in early the same esteem as others do, never mind the fact that he doesn’t explain why he doesn’t, it’s enough to know that he doesn’t. Makes we want to go back and rewatch the movie.

    “Godzilla isn’t the most visually dynamic film,” without mentioning why not, but anyway it’s a tech paragraph, so okay. The next paragraph is tech related, okay, sure, also some things you learned from special features, okay. Next paragraph, special features related, fine. Some stuff about friends and how many commentaries you listen to, fine. Next paragraph, special features related, cool. The next paragraph is special features related and ends with a personal qualifier. That’s fine, I mean you’re a human, there should be shades of humanity, it makes sense. Next paragraph, special features/injections of personal taste, fine. Next paragraph, special features related, fine, at this point I can’t even remember that criticism is “built around the idea that art is worth discussing,” so the weird irony about you criticizing Sato’s interview because “there’s nothing here that isn’t covered” elsewhere, in an article that only regurgitates special features material … whatever. The next paragraph is a little Hoberman observation, okay. A paragraph about the cover, whatever. At this point I can barely remember there’s a movie related to what I’m reading. The final paragraph is a classic ending paragraph that summarizes things, okay.

    I know so much about the Criterion special features and what you learned from them and hardly anything about your take on Godzilla.

    Point is, and I really only intended to criticize these reviews, and your frustrating replies in the comment section, though I confess I got carried away — the point is that the words you use and how you frame them, in criticism and ghd comment sections as everywhere else, form an image in the reader’s mind, and less complete images can actually damage a reader’s perception. Like, I’m less excited about The Moment of Truth because you’re against bullfighting. How is that fair to the art? How does that instigate personal pursuance of The Moment of Truth?

    Just as a critic may challenge the effectiveness of a filmmaker in delivering themes, whether the filmmaker’s intentions are visible or not, it seems perfectly fair for a reader to evaluate a critic on the execution of their ideas. In your The Moment of Truth review you clearly discussed bullfighting more than the movie, and your Godzilla review was mainly about special features. So just don’t go off on me when I want to talk about your reviews instead of the art WHICH YOU YOURSELF BARELY DISCUSS, and then, if you can believe it, use the defense that your intention was to instigate discussion of the piece of art.

    Clearly there was a miscommunication, and I apologize for my end of things. In the end, if you make a comment about the presentation of a movie, you are making a comment about the presentation, to which you’re entitled. I assure you I didn’t take it personally, other than that it furthered a trend in online film criticism in which the presentation is discussed more than the movie in question. Criticism, such as it is, is built around the idea that art is worth discussing, and the most frustrating part of it is when that central goal gets lost – something which we’re all guilty of at one point or another. So whether you write a good review or a bad one regarding my choices as a cinephile, the net result is the same – the movie gets lost in the shuffle.

    Once again, I apologize for not being more clear and forthright earlier. I had very specific problems with your reviews that I generalized in a way that led to a confused conversation (this being the analog to your bad reviews). But at the same time, I’d ask that you not presume anything about myself (as you did in declaring that I failed to discuss the art properly based on your pieces which failed to discuss the art properly … and as you admitted, via caps lack, were really about PRODUCT), and take me at my word. In such a forum, that’s all we have anyway.

    Because at the end of the day I think it’s textbook hypocrisy for a critic to berate a reader for his/her criticisms of criticisms. Just as you as a reviewer of movies pull from a personal point of view, so do I as a reader of criticism pull from a personal point of view. And it just may be that it’s not my fault if the conversation goes off course, depending on how the course is constructed.

    And please don’t tell me that I was being presumptuous in thinking that you were taking my comments personally when it seems that all you can talk about is yourself. Seems like if you were really worried about how the art was being perceived you wouldn’t have begun with “If that’s a shot at me” …

  10. Mattallica says:

    Watch out, Scott. I hear this guy is a real ladies’ man.

  11. Timothy Meadows says:

    It’s nice of you to defend your friend, 12-inch dick and ladykiller Mattallica, by attempting to offend me. That’ll probably get you the pussy you so earnestly desire.

  12. Mattallica says:

    Here’s hoping!

  13. Timothy Meadows says:

    Be pretty cool.

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