Friday, October 07, 2005


Critical Comment

I mentioned casually here a week or so ago about the poster quotes for 'Revolver', the new Guy Ritchie film, which has been trashed in almost every review I've read. The poster quotes, which come from 'The Sun Online' say the film is 'Brilliant . . . Guy Ritchie back to his best.'

Now, thanks to Paul, we find out exactly what happened to get this quotation on the poster. Now, first of all, let me say a word about the source. I dislike the Guardian, and I have done for years, but MediaGuardian is one of the best parts of the paper, and it's investigations into events like this are well worth reading.

The story Revolver-wise goes like this. The Sun did do a film review of Revolver, written by Johnny Vaughan, who seems to have taken this on as a near enough full-time job. As film reviewers go, he's not great, but neither is he awful, he did write a positive comment about 'Life Is A Miracle', which if you recall I loved, and who really reads The Sun expecting quality film reviews anyway? Vaughan reviewed Revolver and didn't pan it, but at no point did he use the word 'brilliant.'

In point of fact, I have, in recent weeks, spent some money on this blog, and given it to Rupert Murdoch in exchange for looking at Sun archives. To me, this is penny-pinching of the worst kind, but what else do you expect from News International? Anyway, 50p later, and I can bring you the extent of Vaughan's praise:

'But this time he's not content with showing off his undoubted skill
with slick visuals -he mixes things up by throwing more twists and
turns at the audience than this summer's Ashes series.
The plot (and I use the word loosely) twists around gambler Jake
Green (Jason Statham), who takes on crime boss Dorothy (yes, really)
Macha (Ray Liotta). . .'

'. . . Admittedly, at times, I struggled to follow the complicated script's
use of historical quotes and unnecessary animation sequences. To a
mainstream audience they could prove risky.
On the plus side, the acting is spot-on. Singer-turned-actor Andre
3000 oozes charisma and his terrific double act with Pastore, who
Sopranos fans will remember as Big Pussy, proves an inspired bit of
Elsewhere Ray Liotta deserves an award for his hilariously OTT turn
as the insanely tanned Macha, but this week's gold star for services
to scene stealing has to go to the excellent Mark Strong, as
stuttering hitman Sorter.'

No 'brilliant.' No 'back to his best.' So MediaGuardian looked into it, and discovered that 'brilliant' came from page 3 girl Ruth. She extends her undoubted knowledge on the subject of film to us thus:

'It's got a great story and I quite fancy hunky Jason Statham in the lead. I think it's a brilliant film and is going to be a big hit.'

Mmmm-hmmm. The Sun then admitted, however, that 'Ruth's in it.' Oh. So not only are we getting, as a main poster review, the praise of a half-witted topless bimbo, but a half-witted topless bimbo with a vested interest. Convincing!

As the Guradian point out, however, 'the origin[s] of the phrase "Guy Ritchie ... back to his best" [are] far more opaque.' Essentially, what The Sun had been doing was selling space on their site, or at least access from their site, to various marketing companies and agencies who provide editorial-free content. Since The Sun are the only people to say anything nice about Revolver, and actually nobody qualified at The Sun said anysuch thing anyway, it's quite disturbing that the distributors were able to put it on the poster in such enormous letters. The moral of the story is to never go to a film because of a poster-quote, or only to do so if it's by someone you explicitly trust. Personally, I would avoid anything that only had praise by any redtop newspaper, or 'Hotdog' magazine, just for starters. The posters to trust are those that include the names of film reviewers that you recognise. Thousands of people went to see Revolver, and hated it, on the says-so of a page three girl who they would have completely ignored had she been named as such.

This is becoming a bugbear of mine. In his regular Five Live slot last week, Mark Kermode pointed out that Johnny Vaughan had found little praise in his review for 'Deuce Bigalow: European Gigolo', despite being in the film. However, Vaughan was significantly less detrimental that practically every other reviewer. In a very short piece, his only actual comment, as opposed to narration of the plot, was this:

'If you are easily offended, this movie is not for you. But if you
enjoyed part one and if the sight of a girl with a man's genitalia
for a nose sneezing into a bowl of soup makes you chuckle, take a

No thanks! Amongst the many, many slating this film has got is possibly Roger Ebert's most negative review for years. It's not just critics, either; asked to name the worst film of the summer, IMDb members (ie, the world public) were torn between 'Gigolo' and 'The Dukes Of Hazzard.'

Despite all this, Vaughan gives, and the newspaper gave, no indication that he had a vested interest.

This is going to be a major new campaign for me from now on - no vested interests in film reviews. No review should ever be given if the reviewer in question ws involved in the project, except in the most tangential of ways.


In a not entirely, dissimilar vein, I should like to have another quick moan.

Danny Wallace is a very funny man, in my opinion. I read 'Join Me' not long after it was published, and I absolutely loved it, and I have been recently captivated by his 'How To Start Your Own Country' TV series.

All of which makes it faintly irritating that both the poster for, and indeed the cover of, his new book 'Yes Man', which I am currently halfway through, and enjoying very much, contains a quote from Richard Madeley saying 'this book is a treat.' The trouble is, Wallace used to work on 'Richard & Judy.' It's another example of vested interests, and I really don't like it, so allow me to propose a review for future editions, by me, who has no connection to the project whatosoever:

'This book is a treat, and is even better than Richard Madeley thinks it is.'

Even better than Richard Madeley thinks it is.

I think the use of Dom Joly's comment on the cover is also rather suspect! Did you see his BBC3 comedy chat show?!! (the term comedy being used very loosely!)

I wondered why the Sun had allowed themselves to be featured praising Revolver, thanks for clearing that up!
Yes, the cover quotes are most uninspiring, which is a real shame for such a good book. They really could have got a better set of quotes elsewhere, or better still, not have bothered. Books aren't films, and most books come with just a few quotes in small print on the back, rather than big letters on the front.
I'm prepared to be shot down in flames here, but I quite enjoyed the first Deuce Bigalow film. In particular the coining of the word "mangina". I still use it quite frequently. Wild horses couldn't drag me to see Revulva, though.
I agree with you up to a point about the use of review quotes on film adverts and books. I just feel that a positive review by Richard Madeley is more likely to put potential buyers off.
Hung, I'm glad you're prepared to be shot down mate because that film was a truly cretinous waste of my time, a film that should never have been made, featuring possibly the least amusing man on the planet, and it certainly wasn't anywhere near good enough for a sequel. When will Rob Schneider just realise he isn't funny?

'Mangina' is pretty amusing though.

It's still the only funny moment!

Clairwil - I know exactly what you mean. I recently bought a copy of David Mitchell's novel 'Cloud Atlas' for my mum, and had to explain to her that it was a good read despite the praise from 'The Richard And Judy Book Club' on the front cover.
I've been wanting to get that book....
Now I still have been wanting to have gotten that book.
danny wallace is a selfobsessed curmudgeon who was at his best playing off of dave gorman
how to start your own country was a banal television programme with each nongag excessively laboured as opposed to his gem in dave gormans book
i have just realised that david gorman is an anagram of mr odd vagina
which verily had me spluttering hot quickbrew all over the tablecloth
Punctuation is a beautiful thing...
You know, I still haven't read it? I keep meaning to, but I've just got too much other stuff going on at the moment.

MattyG, you know that's rubbish. 'Banal?' Compared to BBC4, maybe, but excellent light entertainment. What were you expecting, Heimat?
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