There's a great article over at, film critic, Robger Ebert's website which examines the spoiling of film plotlines by critics and reviewers.
Concentrating on Million Dollar Baby in particular (so don't read the article if you haven't seen that film yet) Ebert takes on those journalists who seem to 'sabotage' movies for the public because of their own personal agendas, or just through sheer stupidity.
One of the reasons we started to do a 'Friday Film review' column on this site is because we were sick of reading reviews that gave too much of the plot away - we have some respect for the broadsheet reviewers' opinions but often they reveal too much plot and that annoyed us.
The idea of Friday Film News is to let you know what these reviewers think of the film, the performances and the plot...but without giving away anything at all about the storyline. And we hope you find it useful (if you don't then let us know and we'll stop doing it and go to the pub on a friday afternoon like everyone else).
So on to the films for this week.
Kinsey is yet another big-budget biopic, starring Liam Neeson as the revolutionary sex researcher. It looks like it might be an 'ok' film, but it hasn't set the critics alight, and we know this because they've all given it the 'industry standard' three star review.
Anthony Quinn, writing in the Independent, says that "Kinsey has fascinating moments that never quite add up to a fascinating film," and praises Neeson for "conveying the way Kinsey's enthusiasm and commitment gradually congealed into obsession, to the point where even family dinners became dominated by discussion of genitalia."
Sounds just like dinner at the Londonist household.
By the way, just to prove a point here, consider this sentence from Quinn's review:
"The film does have one great scene, however, and it involves Lithgow's preacher father. A hateful bully for most of Kinsey's life, he is goaded by his son late on in the story to answer the famous sex questionnaire..."
And, yes, he does go on to reveal what happens in the rest of what he describes as the best scene in the film. Not any more Anthony! Not now you've just told us what happens!
Anyway. Deep breath. On to James Christopher in the Times, who is a little less complimentary about Neeson, claiming that he "has the sexual charisma of a leek". And although he does praise director/writer Bill Condon for managing "to cram so much complexity and detail into his film..." there is a downside, which is, "We have to accept too many characters at face value...and Neeson is the only screen character who ages in 20-odd years."
Over in the Guardian, Pete Bradshaw is back to praising Neeson, calling this "watchable and well-acted biopic" his "best performance to date". But, being Bradshaw, he can't leave it there and eventually we get a fine, extended metaphore for the film based around the 'sex act':
"There is something peculiarly sexual in Kinsey's accretion of facts and figures: a foreplay of research, a tumescence of data, climaxing in the explosive publication in 1948 of Kinsey's book: Sexual Behavior In The Human Male."
Was it good for you Pete?
Next up this week is Harold and Kumar Get The Munchies (or Harold and Kumar go to White Castle as it was called in the US).
A stoner comedy from the same man who brought us Dude, Where's My car?, you would expect the broadsheets to hate this. Not so.
Bradshaw gives it an impressive (for him) three stars, claiming that "stretches of dullness" are saved by "some horribly funny gags".
In the Independent, Quinn also gives Harold & Kumar three stars, saying that the film is "Almost indefensible in its silliness, but oddly endearing for all that." And it's the same story in The Times where it's only two stars, but James Christopher is forced to admit, "It’s not great cinema, but any film that can turn a polythene bag of drugs into Mr Blobby deserves some sort of prize."
Finally this week we've got Flight of the Phoenix, an adaptation (1965 James Stewart movie) of an adaptation (a novel by Trevor Dudley Smith) starring Dennis Quaid and Londonist favourite Giovanni Ribisi.
Wendy Ide gets to cover this one in the Times and she's not too impressed:
"An imbecilic adventure that seems to assume utter stupidity in its audience. It’s a bit like Scrapheap Challenge except for the Mongolian bandits taking sporadic pot shots. You rather wish that the Mongolians had better artilllery."
Two stars there.
In the Guardian Peter Bradshaw is merciful, awarding the film two stars and admitting the general crapness of the whole thing: "The whole thing is so unpretentiously cornball and peppered with cliches that it amounts to a form of cinematic karaoke, in that we know the big lines and set-pieces even before they hove into view."
And so it's up to Anthony Quinn to write the one star review, mainly because he clearly really liked the original film: "Grind your teeth at the dishonouring of a minor classic. Dennis Quaid does an honest job, but that hardly compensates for the crass plot and atrocious dialogue."
In film news this week it's about the Sith, mainly becasue there's a trailer...for the trailer. Basically on March 10, FOX is set to debut the full Episode III trailer during a broadcast of The O.C., so they've produced a 'spot' announcing the trailer debut, including a little sneak preview. Where will it all end?
And there's the particularly bizarre news that Brandan Fraser is to star in the adaptation of Tony Hawks' book Round Ireland With a Fridge. Can't wait for that one.