May 16th, 2009

red panda eating bamboo

Monster's Ball & why I no longer trust Roger Ebert

For a long time I agreed with Roger Ebert's movie reviews often enough that all I had to do to decide whether a movie was worth seeing was glance at a few lines of his review. But it seems I've been disagreeing with him a lot more lately.

On the one hand, I enjoy mindless action flicks more than he does. (E.g., I enjoyed X-Men Origins: Wolverine and Star Trek. He seemed to dislike them, although his reviews were pretty funny.) I wouldn't stop trusting him for that reason, though.

On the other hand, it's now apparent I can't necessarily trust him for reviews of serious movies either, at least not ones with race as a theme. This disappoints me because it has seemed to me in the past that Ebert is a little more clueful about race than most professional movie reviewers. But at this point we seem to be working from different perspectives.

The OH and I watched Monster's Ball tonight. The movie was extremely well-acted (Halle Berry, who played Leticia, won an Oscar for Best Actress) but we were REALLY MAD about the ending. Since we had decided to watch it based on Ebert's 4-star review, I went back to Ebert's review to see where things went wrong.

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I should have looked on the Wikipedia page for the movie because it mentioned that some folks had been critical:
Esther Iverem, SeeingBlack.com editor and film critic, stated that..."Ultimately, Monster's Ball uses the legacy of racism in an unconvincing manner to belittle its impact, and its historical and present-day consequences" ("Not All of Us Are Oscar Happy" by Esther Iverem)
which accurately describes how I felt about it, in the context of the ending.

I am glad that reading the wikipedia article led me to discover http://seeingblack.com. It looks interesting.