I’m embarrassed that until I read Alone in the Dark’s review I had no idea that Brad Bird had done The Iron Giant, a beautiful film. The only thing stopping me from making Ratatouille a higher priority although everyone says its great is that I found almost-as-universally-praised The Incredibles very disappointing; the setup was excellent, but it became a frequently dull fighting-and-chase movie way too quickly. But, yeah, I really should see it. (And, hey, I’ve been pretty good about non-snooty movie choices recently, seeing two legitimate hits and a movie that wasn’t mainstream only because unlike me most people had enough sense to avoid it like the plague. Plus the Danish noirs and 3-hour Lawrence adaptations and Melville revivals that play more to type; more about all this soon.)
Speaking of which, since I’ve seen even some Bay detractors concede too much on this score elsewhere, AITD has more in comments about the bizarre assertion that Michael Bay is some sort of technical wizard:
I’m glad people are finally shredding the “Bay is such a great visual director” trope. He’s incompetent. I remember a scene in The Rock where the two heroes were surrounded by soldiers who (natch) opened fire. The scene was so badly shot and edited that I couldn’t tell if the soldiers were trying to kill the heroes, each other, or just blow off their own balls.
Right. IIRC, most of his action sequences like this; they’re so inept that they fail to convey such simple and crucial matters as where the characters are in relation to each other, who’s shooting at who, etc. (And while in limited doses and in movies that have characters in them such techniques might be used to intentionally convey disorientation, it’s clear that Bay is just a wanker.) He also lacks other talents of obvious use to the genre director: he has no sense of rhythm or pacing at all, and usually can’t even get good scenery-chewing out of his actors.
Speaking of which, poking around I was reminded of two reviews of Pearl Harbor that rank with J-Pod’s declaring Cinderella Man a peak of American cinema as classics of bad criticism. About Kevin Thomas’s review, which alas doesn’t seem to be online I can only be reminded of John Simon’s response when informed that another LA critic had never been on a studio payroll: “Of course not. Why should they pay for what they’re getting for free?” Then there’s William Arnold, who wrote “I found myself fairly swept away for most of the fast-moving, three-hour running time.” Fast-moving? Unless the last hour when I finally got too annoyed to keep it on even as background was wildly different, the thing moves like Cecil Fielder after a six-course meal.
And because L, G &M prides itself on fair and balanced commentary, I note that fellow Melville revivalist AWB has joined the pro-Transformers consensus. I’m going to take Rob’s word for it, but we report, you decide!