Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Just because you're a critic doesn't mean you have to be critical

[in case you're wondering, this one has been in the queue for a while]

I know this is a fairly trivial matter, but in keeping with our running thread on the flack-to-hack ratio, it is worth noting that Tom Cruise seems to have bought a lifetime pass for good reviews from the LA Weekly movie section ever since their chief critic, Amy Nicholson, wrote a book length puff piece on Cruise which she then cut down to a feature ("Our Last Real Movie Star") for the weekly.

Having firmly established the appearance of conflict of interest, the editors go on to make her the default reviewer for all Tom Cruise films in the future. It is therefore not much of a surprise when Rogue Nation gets a review that starts like this.
At 53, Tom Cruise is past the retirement age of every James Bond except Roger Moore. Yet his 19-year-old Mission: Impossible series ticks on, counting down the seconds till its next explosion — and Cruise's Ethan Hunt is determined to unman his cross-Atlantic competition. Forget high-tech gadgets. The older Cruise gets, the more he relies on his fists. (And his abs, and his nerves — he'll never let you forget he does his own stunts, and why should he?) His body is the wonder-gizmo, and Christopher McQuarrie, writer and director of the fifth entry, Rogue Nation, keeps the camera on him like a nature show about a hungry lion.
And pretty much proceeds in a straight line from there.

Obviously, the stakes are fairly low here ("Journalists writing puff pieces? I'm shocked, shocked I tell you!"), but it is always good to remind ourselves how much of what we read, be it reviews or articles or op-ed pieces, started out as a gleam in some publicist's eye.

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