I saw MISS PETTIGREW LIVES FOR A DAY on Saturday night, and thought it was very charming.
As many of you know, I never -- I MEAN, EVER -- read movie reviews of films I haven't seen yet (ever since Roger Ebert decided to show his contempt for a movie by revealing it's biggest plot twist without a "spoiler" warning, the rat bastard!).
I figured I'd be safe reading a review on MISS PETTIGREW, because I'd already seen the film, and instead, ran into my second-biggest pet peeve with movie critics. This one -- Hilda Yeshigian from my very own Cal State Northridge's Daily Sundial -- hadn't seen the film. Or perhaps she HAD seen most of the film, but decided to go to the ladies' or make out with her boyfriend during a couple of crucial scenes. In any case, her lapse in attention caused her to make two fairly obvious and egregious mistakes to anyone who had actually seen the film from beginning to end -- and hadn't made out with their boyfriend, or anyone else they happened to be sitting nearby (though I did see it at the DGA, and the guy sitting next to me was tres yummy!).
I won't reveal her errors, lest I pull what I've come to refer to as an "Ebert" for those of you who haven't seen it. Suffice it to say that such review boo-boos are not limited to college/university journalists. I can't tell you how many times I caught Richard Schickel, of no less venerable publications than the LA Times and Time Magazine, in what I've now come to call a "double Ebert" -- an unannounced spoiler that reveals a major plot point that never actually happened in the film! So Miss Daily Sundial is in good company.
Truly, I didn't disagree with the overall premise of her critique, but because she seems to be lacking a familiarity with a certain style of film made in the mid- to late-thirties, she kind of... well... missed the point. Again, this is not at all unusual. There are very few truly good film critics in the world. Schickel's predecessor at the Times, Charles Champlin, wasn't bad. Paid attention. Wrote well. Didn't (as far as we could tell) engage in nookie with the concessions girl instead of actually watching the film. (I should say, "isn't bad" because I think he's still considered "emeritus" at the Times, and reviews special releases from time to time.)
Anyhoo... this is a gripe I've had for a while. I love the movies -- I love going there, I love watching trailers, I love sitting in the theater, waiting for the lights to go out and the film to start. I even love the little dancing hot dog. I love it all. I love the experience of movies. And I generally hate most movie critics, mostly because the vast majority of them not only don't know anything about movies, but don't really like them in general, and it shows. I wonder sometimes how interested most of them are in the history of film. Or even in old films, without the history (I'm not much of a trivia buff, for certain.) I'm sure our Miss Daily Sundial has seen Titanic, but has she seen A Night At the Opera, with the Marx Brothers? Maybe she has. Who knows? I guess the question is really, did she manage to make it all the way through to the end without turning away from the screen to snog her boyfriend?