Calling all contrarians

Gather ’round, folks, because your queen has arrived.

Stephanie Zacharek is the most active movie reviewer for, and has long been one of my least favorite reviewers working for any publication.  Recently she took a lot of flak over her review of “The Dark Knight” – basically the only part of it she singled out for significant praise was Heath Ledger, with nods to Aaron Eckhart and Maggie Gyllenhaal as well.  The rest of the movie she disliked, was bored or confused by, or outright hated.  Well, my opinion differs from hers in most respects, but she’s entitled to be That Guy* – the guy who hates everything that other people like, and sticks up for mediocre underdogs for reasons most inscrutable.  She’s just loyally following in the footsteps of her obvious inspiration, Pauline Kael – though, alas, with significantly less talent, and a lack of Kael’s ability to make us temporarily feel like we might actually share her biases and opinions.

So whatever.  Zacharek sucks, but she can suck all she wants.  That’s what I’m saying.

But this part of her review of the new “Mummy” movie actually made me angry:

In some ways I feel sorry for “Tomb of the Dragon Emperor” as an enterprise: Not only is it shoehorned into a forlorn early-August slot, by which point most of us are already suffering summer-blockbuster fatigue; it also has the further misfortune to arrive just a few weeks after the release of “The Dark Knight,” a movie so revolutionary that Orson Welles himself has reportedly risen from his own emperor’s tomb to concede that, you know, that “Citizen Kane” thing he made really wasn’t so great after all.

“The Dark Knight” does make somewhat more visual sense than “Tomb of the Dragon Emperor,” but both pictures suffer from similar delusions of grandeur, mistaking oversized scale for solid storytelling.

Hey Stephanie: Salon called, and they’re looking for their review of “The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor.”  Could you tear yourself away from “The Dark Knight” for a few seconds and track that down for ’em?  Thanks.

* Even though she’s not literally a guy.


3 Responses to Calling all contrarians

  1. JimPanzee says:

    Not to mention, of course, that had Zacharek been alive when Citizen Kane was new, she would have totally panned it for being ambitious and too playfully self-concious.

    It’s unfair of me to put words in her mouth that she didn’t utter, but it’s the kind of thing she does: pick a label like “ambitious” or qualities like “visual sense” that have no inherent value and condemn or laud a movie based on them. It’s what allows her to like one movie for a quality and hate the very next movie for the very same quality.

    I’m annoyed with her RIGHT NOW and I stopped reading Salon nearly six months ago because of her (and Camille Paglia and the lack of anybody worthwhile to read except King Kauffman but one dude does not a magazine make and Salon won’t allow me to subscribe to just Kauffman’s columns so fuck em.)

  2. I’m close to writing them off myself. There are still worthwhile articles here and there – and King Kaufman – but slowly they have given the wheel over to a bunch of regulars who are largely intolerable. Zacharek is awful for the reasons already mentioned (and I agree with you completely on those). Paglia is just bewildering, both in what she writes and how she continues to be paid for that writing. Joan Walsh is an atrocious political correspondant – though it’s sort of fun reading her posts just to see how she’ll manage to keep bringing Hillary into a presidential race that no longer involves her. All the Broadsheet writers are modern feminist charicatures with little of note to say. And Cary Tennis manages to turn every request for advice into fifteen thousand four-word sentences, half of which are about Cary Tennis.

    All the sudden, I’m realizing that Salon just makes me mad these days. Might be time to give up the habit.

  3. JimPanzee says:

    I go about halfway with Rebecca Traister. I wish she were somewhere else so I could read her stuff without having to go over to Salon.

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