Monday, October 29, 2007


Two weekends ago, when I was up visiting Vermont, I listened to a bunch of country radio while driving around.

At one point there was a string of songs, starting with Eric Church "Pledge Allegiance to the Hag" (as in Merle Haggard) and including "Country Boy" by Ricky Skaggs, which are all about being a fan of country music and/or being a proponent of the "country music lifestyle". I was really happy when Kenny Chesney came on and we finally got a song that wasn't about how "country" the singer was.

Anyway, this isn't a new trend in country music: these kinds of "identity politics" country songs make up a good portion of Hank Williams, Jr.'s catalog. But I was having a hard time thinking of any of these kinds of songs that pre-date HW2. I mean, I've listened to a lot of country music, but never in a very systematic way, so there might be some obvious stuff that I'm missing/forgetting here. Any recommendations of "early" country songs that deal primarily, self-referentially with country music or living a self-consciously "country" lifestyle would be greatly appreciated.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

King Koan

In today's Dark Tower post, Sean Collins is writing about the revised version of The Gunslinger:

[W]orst of all, he's not just revising for information; he's revising for style! He can explain it however he wants, but apparently he's made the book's prose sound more like something he'd write today. I'm sure even bigger King fans than myself would agree that's not necessarily a good thing, especially when that original style, so different from anything else King had ever written, was what made the first version of The Gunslinger such a stand-out. [bolding mine]

So, the question is - and maybe we can call this a Geek Puzzle or even a Geek Koan - who would really be the bigger fan: the fan who sticks by King with ferocious loyalty no matter where he and his style go or the fan who sticks by King's original work with ferocious loyalty no matter how King's own opinion of it changes over time?

Obviously, feel free to substitute Dan Clowes or Steven Spielberg or Bob Dylan for Stephen King if that helps you contemplate the question.

Storytelling Impaired

I suppose there are a number of ways to look at the question: "Are video games bad for you?"

After watching the first thirty minutes of the new Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles movie I have to wonder: "Do video games impair you ability to tell a story?"

I mean: I suppose for an animated TMNT, it makes sense to have a video game-style aesthetic. But the storytelling skills on display look like they were picked up from video games, by which I mean: a "cut-scene" to get out all the necessary exposition as quickly (and inelegantly) as possible followed by an action scene that exists mostly for its own sake (i.e., with only the bare minimum of (1) ties to the story's plot/themes and (2) moments of meaningful characterization).

Maybe I shouldn't blame video games: after all, they seem to have picked up this storytelling style from bad kung fu movies. Still - the lack of imagination and creativity involved is pretty depressing.

Now to balance that with something "positive" about TMNT: there's a fight scene that takes place on a skyscraper building site that is much better directed (in terms of clarity and pizazz) than the similar fight scene at the end of Spider Man 3 (which has become my new "go to" movie as an example of everything that you don't want in an action/adventure blockbuster).

Friday, October 19, 2007


This is a piece of writing of mine from May 2003 and appeared on an earlier incarnation of my blog during my first few months as a blogger. I kind of got a kick out it. You might be able to tell I was still suffering from my grad school hangover at the time.

Magneto is part of the tradition of noble villains that Jack Kirby created during his run at Marvel in the 1960s which reached its most profound expression in the character of Darkseid in the "Fourth World" stories for DC. Earlier examples in the same vein include the first two major foes of the Fantastic Four, the anti-hero Namor (the Sub-Mariner), who wars with the surface world in order to protect the safety and sovereignty of his underwater kingdom, and Doctor Doom, Reed Richards' rival, driven by jealousy and arrogance to prove Richards the lesser man. Namor's love for Sue Storm eventually leads to his redemption. Doctor Doom is never redeemed, but in The Fantastic Four Annual #2, Kirby paints a sympathetic picture of Doom's origins that shows the reasons for his ambitions as well as his hatred for Richards, and, despite the danger Doom represents to the rest of the world (especially to the Fantastic Four's home New York City), we see that he is beloved by the people of the kingdom of Latveria, who have accepted his absolute rule in return for the safety and prosperity he provides.

Kirby's depiction of Magneto expands on this ambiguity. Not only can we understand Magneto's reasons for attacking humankind--as with Namor, they are a threat to his people (and his children)--but his methods of attack are not very different from the ways in which mutants were attacked by humans in the first place. There is an Old Testament justification in Magneto's crusade against humans. This ties the X-Men in with one of the major issues Kirby deals with throughout his work: for civilization's survival, Old Testament morality must be replaced, but, for Kirby, a veteran of WWII, the pacifism suggested by the New Testament was not a suitable alternative in a world that could allow the Second World War (the Galactus Saga in the pages of The Fantastic Four is perhaps Kirby's most visionary treatment of this theme). True peace required warriors whose power in war equaled their mercy--i.e. Professor X's X-Men: a liberally educated paramilitary group, committed not to revolution, but to the protection of the innocent from attack by any group of extremists--innocent humans from Magneto, innocent mutants from government agents.

As I've already written, I think these ideas exist only in an embryonic state in Kirby's X-Men, and it wasn't until his "Fourth World" series that he began to truly expand on them. And, as much as I enjoy Chris Claremont's writing, he was certainly no Kirby (he wasn't even a Stan Lee). However, he did continue to suggest the ambiguity inherent in Magneto's character. Claremont emphasizes that Magneto and Professor X had started with the same goals, but Magneto, like so many of the political leaders of the 20th Century, had been seduced by the expediencies of violence in fomenting political change. In this light, Magneto should not be seen so much as a black-hearted villain, but as a noble visionary, blinded by his ideology, felled by his own arrogance and self-importance.

Thursday, October 18, 2007


Some thoughts on Stephen King's story "1408" and it's movie adaptation. Warning: some spoilerish material follows.

1. The movie starts off strongly, but founders a little over halfway through. It doesn't recover. I wanted to use that as a lead-in to an observation about about Stephen King's work in general - I often find the set-ups extremely compelling and the conclusions extremely unsatisfying - but that's not quite fair in this case, since the original story is solid all the way through.

2. One of the movie's two major additions to the short story is the backstory involving the death of Mike Enslin's child and his subsequent estrangement from his wife. I can understand why the screenwriters wanted to add this in. For one thing, it's similar enough to the set-up of other King stories that it doesn't feel completely out-of-place. And it probably seemed to be a lot grabbier than the central issue at stake in the short story. From my POV, that's a little unfortunate: while it would be harder to dramatize, the "theme" of the short story - it is a dangerous illusion that for writers to feel they can remain detached and unaffected by what they're writing about, regardless of their skepticism/sense of irony/clinical eye/etc. - is a little less run-of-the-mill. There are already a lot of spooky movies about people dealing with the loss of loved ones.

3. In my post on Insomnia, I suggested that King is best when he's writing characters that are most like him. I think that holds up here, for the most part. I wonder though if he doesn't overplay - just a bit - the whole "Artistic Anxiety/Defensiveness of the Schlock Writer"-angle. I know this is also one of King's recurring issues - he usually doesn't develop it enough for me to call it a "theme" - but, at some point, you'd think he'd get over it. IMO, this stuff plays a lot better in the movie, because there it's softened and grounded by John Cusack's performance.

4. I think John Cusack is really good as long as the movie stays good - he brings just the right amount of burnt out skepticism to bear - but doesn't have anywhere to take the performance once things start falling apart. Samuel L. Jackson - seemingly miscast based on the way King wrote the character - gives one of those pitch-perfect B-movie performances that he seems to be able to knock out of the park (if I may mix my metaphors here), a la Deep Blue Sea, xXx, or Unbreakable.

5. The movie felt too long, even though it's 94 minute running time is by no means excessive. My friend suggested it would have been better as a Twilight Zone episode: I'm a little hipper than he is so I say a Masters of Horror episode. The other major addition the movie makes to the short story is its third act, which is almost completely unnecessary. It does give us one great effect/image: when John Cusack goes into the post office and the guys come in and start smashing through the walls, revealing that it was all a set "built" inside the room.

6. While in the room, the filmmakers add a number of "gotcha" scares that seemed to be taken from The Grudge and/or The Fog. These weren't that original and I don't think they fit with the psychological horror that King is trying to get across in the short story, but I do have to say that I was scared by the chase through the air ducts.

7. I liked the short story, but I thought it could have been a bit more formally rigorous. I hardly ever think this while reading Stephen King - that's not why I read him, after all - but the way he has set up this story - with the minicorder's tape as the only evidence of what happened in the room - seems to call out for something along those lines. Like riffing on Lovecraft's standard narrative techniques: instead of telling the story by switching willy-nilly between Mike Enslin's subjective perspective of his experience in the room and the objective recording of what happened on the tape, split them up, or, maybe even base everything on just what can be heard on the tape, with the gaps filled in (piecemeal) by Mike's post-room recollections or someone else's investigative efforts.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Five Ways of Looking at Acting in the Movies

One: Motivation

When I see a performance in a movie, I want the actor to get across why their character is doing what they are doing.

I am all for ambiguity: human beings often have lots of competing, overlapping, and even contradictory reasons for doing something, so I especially appreciate it when an actor can get mixed motivations across all at once.

If the character's motivation has to stay hidden (as with Julianne Moore's performance in Neil Jordan's version of The End of the Affair), then (a) I want it to make sense in retrospect once the mystery is solved and (b) I want to be able to speculate meaningfully about the pre-solution parts of the performance.

Two: Expression

When I see a performance in a movie, I want the actor to expose the emotional state of their character.

Maybe expose is the wrong word, but I'm wary of getting too poetic or too sappy. I'm thinking here of something like Jennifer Connelly's performance in Dark Water: she doesn't build her character like the supporting actors do in that movie, she's not especially convincing (nor is she especially unconvincing) as a young working, single mom. But she opens up to the camera and radiates vulnerability.

Of course, I don't like having to use a word like "radiates" to talk about this - too poetic again. More specifically, she has an expressive face and she's comfortable enough in front of the camera to let it pick up all its subtle shifts.

Three: Achievement

When I see a performance in a movie, I want the actor to impress me with their skills.

We are talking about performance after all, and showing off what you can do is a big part of that.

Skills is a big category, though. It can be actory skills - Kevin Spacey's inventive line readings in The Usual Suspects or L.A. Confidential, Daniel Day-Lewis's physical work in My Left Foot - or it can be showier, song-and-dance-style skills - Jackie Chan's highly choreographed stunts and fights in Project A, Steve Martin's physical comedy in All of Me.

Four: Specifics

When I see a performance in a movie, I want the actor to create a character (or at least a moment) I might recognize from life.

I want to be convinced. Like with Ricky Gervais as David Brent in The Office: he obnoxious like people I know in real life are obnoxious, not charmingly obnoxious like a lot of TV characters.

Five: Swept Away

When I see a performance in a movie, I want to be charmed.

Moviemaking isn't necessarily that much fun. Work is work and while I don't have any extra sympathy for actors (who are, after all, probably getting paid to do what they love), I do recognize that the process can be just as much a pain in the ass as many other jobs.

But when I go to the movies, I don't want to have to think about any of that. So, when I'm watching Will Smith in Enemy of the State, I don't want to start thinking about what a drag it must be to have to run around one of these big budget action monstrosities: I just want to admire his poise and sense of humor.

Friday, October 12, 2007


Even though I enjoyed watching Pushing Daisies, I think there's such a disconnect between Pushing Daisies - the modest, not-altogether-successful show that I watched - and Pushing Daisies - the amazing TV experience critics are talking about - that I find myself actively looking for flaws. Still, I have to say that whimsy becomes a lot less whimsical when it is deployed so elaborately and so deliberately.


So, my wife and I just watched The Heiress - her for the first time, me for the third - and I stumbled across this essay on William Wyler while I was getting ready to blog about the movie.

Now - I agree with a lot of what David Cairns writes here. I, too, have vague reasons for thinking that Wyler is under-appreciated by film critics/buffs/historians. And I endorse his "big claim" that Wyler "is dramaturgically the finest director ever." Cairns writes that he thinks Wyler's "command of dramatic form, of the screenplay's structure and substance, of casting and directing actors, is second to none" and I agree. And while I wouldn't necessarily say that he's a great "painterly" image-maker - like D.W. Griffith, John Ford, or Orson Welles - I would say that he is a great "theatrical" image-maker: he has one of the best senses of staging of any filmmaker out there.

Anyway, I agree with most of the essay, but Cairns also writes something that stopped me cold:

One argument should be put forward first, however. Try as I might, I can't claim that Wyler's strongest films fall into Manny Farber's category of Termite Art. They are not small, modest, cunning genre films. Wyler's films tend to be big, they often tackle Important Themes, and feature big emotional scenes for great actors. They sound a lot more like White Elephant Art, don't they? So I have to argue that there needs to be a third category, which can contain all the big, ambitious, meaty films which happen to be GREAT. If we can allow such a category as Mammoth Art, Wyler can be admitted, and will find himself in good company with Lean, Fellini, Ophuls, Chaplin, Welles, Murnau, Minnelli, Kurosawa... Small is not the only virtue.

I think Cairns is making a huge mistake here and I'm pointing it out because I think it's a fairly common mistake made by film critics.

Now, readers of this blog probably could guess that I think very highly of Manny Farber's essay on Termite Art vs. White Elephant Art. I think it was (and is) a necessary corrective to the tendency to treat only "prestige pictures" as worthy of critical attention and to ignore all kinds of worthwhile movies that fall outside the approval of "the critical establishment".

At the same time, like all of Manny Farber's film criticism, it is very idiosyncratic*. Farber has a very unique take on the movies, which is part of what makes him so compelling as a critic, but it is also what makes his criticism so unsuitable as the basis for a system to classify movies (let alone art) in general.

The idea that David needs to justify his appreciation for something like The Heiress in the terms set up by Farber's essay is, to me, pretty nutty. The Heiress was not the kind of movie Farber was interested in and, as a critic, he doesn't seem to have much of a knack for talking about that kind of movie.

Cairns' new category - "Mammoth Art" - seems completely contradictory to the spirit of Farber's essay. Farber, I'd guess, would have talked about them as "White Elephant Movies" if he talked about them at all.

Instead of making up a new category, why not just admit that Farber's classification of movies as either Termite Art or White Elephant art, while provocative, interesting, and useful for starting a debate, is also limited and representative of an extremely narrow way of looking at movies (or art in general)?

The same thing happens with some of Pauline Kael's writing. For example, I really love her essay "Trash, Art, and the Movies", but I've seen a number of attempts to turn this into a system for thinking generally about movies/art that, to me, fall flat. I've also seen a number of attempts to argue against her essay as if it were meant to act as a kind of overarching system, which fall flat for the same reasons. Namely: this essay (1) represents her own idiosyncratic take on the movies and (2) was written as part of an ongoing conversation and loses a lot of its meaning pulled from that context.

In that context, it makes sense to point out that there can be a praiseworthy kind of vitality in a lot of the movies the critical establishment might dismiss as mere exploitation, but that this vitality is not the be-all-and-end-all of "film art", while at the same time reminding us that a movie's high-minded, artistic intentions should not necessarily be taken at face value.

However, just because it makes a lot of sense, in that context, I think it's a bad idea to put too much weight on making a distinction between Art and Trash**, let alone to try to use the essay to develop a system to classify Art and Trash.

*As Michael Blowhard writes:

He's unrealistic about the basic appeal of movies. He's so keen (and so good) on the purely visual and rhythmic qualities that it can seem like he's onto something cosmically central about the movies as an art form. And he is, I guess. But -- simple historical fact -- the reason the movies are the movies is that they've got stars, they tell stories, they have spectacle. Most of them feature outsized personalities, and are acted-out dramatic narratives that are enhanced, pumped and sold by elements like rhythm and visuals. They're made and enjoyed as illustrated fantasies for the masses. The kinds of qualities Farber focuses on have been, in other words, and despite what film geeks may want to believe, secondary elements in film history.

**I'll admit it: I'm finding less and less of value in classifying arts and culture stuff as "Art" vs. "Trash". It's such a circular, subjective thing that I'd rather critics just write about the movie itself and leave the Trash vs. Art stuff to history.

Monday, October 8, 2007


A Film Buff Confession:

I don't really like Humphrey Bogart.

Sure - I think he's great in The Big Sleep and The Maltese Falcon - two of my favorite movies - and I he's fine in To Have and Have Not and Casablanca, but I think he's unbelievable and (worse) pretty stiff in most of his other major performances.

I mean: watching him in The Treasure of the Sierra Madre is, for me, kind of painful, mainly because Walter Huston is there acting rings around him without breaking a sweat. Bogart, on the other hand, sweats and twitches and bugs out his eyes. Because, you know, greed is driving him crazy. Really crazy. So crazy that he just starts sweating and twitching and eye-bugging.

Now, in my book, two great performances and two good performances is certainly something. But, again, in my book, it falls quite a bit short of legendary/all-time great/etc.

Movie Chat: The TV Set

I liked watching The TV Set quite a bit. And I admired the work that went into it. It's a "behind-the-scenes" movie that avoids what is, IMO, one of the major problems of this kind of movie: that the TV show/movie/play being produced is so obviously unbelievable as an actual TV show/movie/play that any edge the jokes might have is blunted by the show-within-a-show's "straw man" status.

It doesn't quite avoid another major problem of this kind of movie, though: I'm going to call it "Writer Entitlement Syndrome".

So, these kinds of stories have a pretty standard set-up: there's the Writer, who has a particular vision that he wants to get across, and then there's the System, which wants to create an appealing product. Artistic clashes with Commercial producing satirical insight into the process of pop culture production.


If you're a writer and your overriding ambition is "artistic", then you're probably making a mistake if you're trying to write for TV or the movies. You get into this field because you also have a driving ambition for (a) a large audience or (b) money.

Now, it's cool to "fight for your vision" or whatever - that's part of the writer's job - but I think it's just a little self-serving to set up this struggle as the Sensitive Clued-In Artist vs. the Philistines Who Control the Purse Strings.

(Part of the reason that I like the way Extras handles this kind of story is that Ricky Gervais primarily targets the Writer's own ambitions and vanity).

I do want to say that The TV Set isn't terrible when it comes to this stuff: for instance, David Duchovny's writer character has pretty realistic sense of what he's doing. He says of his script: "I know it's not Shakespeare. I know it's not The Sopranos". Still - the movie could have used a little more self-awareness, overall.

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

New Shows

I kind of like Life, although it is a pretty conventional example of the Wacky Detective (Serious) Show - like L&O: Criminal Intent or Numbers (as opposed to the Wacky Detective (Funny) Show - like Monk or Psych). It's a little like House in that part of the pleasure is just getting to see what kind of line readings Damien Lewis comes up with for some pretty ridiculous lines (lots of stuff about Zen here). But it has some interesting stuff around the edges and it looks to be set up a bit like Veronica Mars: there's a mystery each episode plus an overarching, bigger mystery.

Reaper is amusing, but also sloppy (which probably makes Kevin Smith one of the most consistent directors of all time, since that description could apply to almost everything he's ever done). I don't think it will last, but who knows with the CW.

More CW: I really did laugh a lot during Aliens in America. The first ep is really just set up though, and it will be interesting to see what they actually do with the concept. The actors are all funny, though, especially the two kids.

I watched Carpoolers mainly because I'm a fan of Fred Goss and am still bitter that they not only cancelled the completely unwatched by everyone but me Sons & Daughters but haven't even put it out on DVD. From the previews it looked like a clone of The Office, but it really isn't. It is a pretty standard one-camera sitcom: these used to look "fresh" but now they're all just blending together. (At one point I was a huge snob about this and thought all shows should get rid of the "old fashioned", studio audience, three-camera format. But after a few years of stuff that promised more than it delivered - like My Name is Earl - I find that my favorite sitcom watching moments are all coming from Everybody Loves Raymond episodes). Still, some genuinely funny moments. The funniest stuff is from T.J. Miller, who I guess is some kind of comedian.

I think that's it. I guess I'll check out Pushing Daisies tonight. I'm skeptical that it will be a hit with real people as opposed to people who write about TV, though.

Tuesday, October 2, 2007


I decided a while ago that, for the sake of my own mental and emotional health, I wasn't going to write about politics on the internet. Sometimes, though, like in my last post and its comments, I can't help it. That is: some movies/books/etc. have a political element: if I want to write about them, I have to deal with it in some way.

That conversation is now veering away from what I was trying to get at in the original post towards a place to which I do not really want to go. (My own fault, btw, not that of my esteemed interlocutors James and Steve).

But I would like to keep the heart of that conversation alive while stripping away some of the details on which we seem to keep getting caught up.


What happens when your own sensibility differs from that of a movie or book or poem or cartoon?

Or maybe we should start with: what happens when it doesn't differ?

Oh wait - first maybe I should explain what I mean by "sensibility".

When I first started composing this post (in my head on the train ride in this morning), I thought it would be about "What happens when a movie's politics differ from your own?" But I think that that word "politics" is too limiting in this context, too loaded, and apt to cause too much confusion. Like: trying to differentiate between a movie's overt politics and any implicit political message it might have.

"Sensibility" is more inclusive.

By a "movie's sensibility" I mean all this and probably more: its sense of politics (how they work and which are "right), its sense of history, its sense of morality, and its sense of how the world works - its world view. And I'd add a "meta" level: it also includes a movie's (lack of) understanding of how its content and its presentation of this content relates to its sense of politics, history, morality, etc.

Now, talking about a movie's sensibility like this is still going to be tricky and it's still a bit of a short cut, because movies (like people) are only rarely 100% consistent.

As an example, the sensibility of the D-Day sequence in Saving Private Ryan (where there is no salvation in war) is different from the sensibility of most of the rest of the movie (which suggests a kind of existential salvation based on the idea of the "band of brothers"). Not only that, the framing sequence, seems to shift things in another direction entirely. So we should remember that looking at any given individual scene in a movie may not give us an accurate sense of the movie's overall sensibility.

Okay, so back to those questions.

What happens when it doesn't differ?

Well, for me, it may not even register. That is, the more a movie's a world view matches up with my own, the less I'm likely to pay much attention to that world view while watching.

Now, when I put my critic hat on and sit down and analyze and discuss and bull shit about the movie, what part does a matching world view play?

Well - I'm a movie buff, so it won't save what I'd consider "bad filmmaking", but I admit that it helps. Take some of my favorite movies, Play Time, The Night of the Shooting Stars, The World of Apu, Six Degrees of Separation, The Third Man, Yi-Yi, and Rio Bravo (or some of the faves on my more recent top ten lists: The Gleaners & I, Cast Away, Time Out, Munich, Last Orders, Mission to Mars, The Prestige, Infernal Affairs, and Best in Show): part of what I'm responding to in these movies is that I find their world view compelling and inspiring and containing some kind of truth.

I should point out, though, that I can certainly imagine that someone else, who has a different world view than mine, would take in what these movies are saying and find it a bit jarring.

Oh - here's a cool variation:

So, let's say you're fine with the movie's "message" but your suspicious of the messenger, what then?

This is the case for me with Hero, for example. I'm kind of sympathetic to the movie's world view, but I'm made a little uneasy because of who is behind the presentation of that world view. That is, I'm sympathetic to the idea that sacrificing the individual might be necessary for the good of the whole nation, but I am not so sympathetic to that idea when it is being sponsored by the Chinese government.

Ok - next up:

What happens when it differs?

Well, first of all, while watching I might be jarred out of the movie a little bit. I remember watching American Beauty: it gets to the part where Kevin Spacey and Annette Bening are about to make love - she stops him because he's about to spill his drink and he gets upset and yells at her. Those scenes are written and directed so that we're supposed to be on Spacey's side: that is, the movie's sensibility is all in favor of "just loosen up, dammit!" But, when I saw that, I was like: "Of course put your drink down!" And then: "Man, Kevin Spacey is an ungenerous prick! And so immature, why is he throwing a fit?" The movie and I were on such different wavelengths that I was conscious of this difference in nearly every scene. It was jarring - so much so that my "movie critic brain" was active during almost the entire movie.

(Take a look at my post on The Devil's Rejects to see me in the process of struggling with a movie whose sensibility I find really repugnant, but that I kind of admire anyways.)

But that's an extreme case and I don't want to give the impression that I equate "bad movie" with "movie with a different sensibility than my own".

The Wild Bunch, for instance. I can't help but get swept up by this movie. It's so well made and so fully-realized. Apart from a few jarring moments, I'm with this movie all the way, as long as its running. Thinking back on it though, I find its world view is one that wrestle with, rather than embrace.

This isn't a bad thing!

Grand Illusion is another movie that fits this category for me: I don't deny that it is a masterpiece and I'm completely in love with it on almost every level. Except that, when it comes down to it, I don't really agree with it. Again: that's ok by me! (There are a lot of people I like/love/etc. that I don't always agree with. And there are a lot a people I agree with that I don't particularly care for.)

Why I am bringing all this up?

Well, one reason is that I think a lot of this goes unsaid by film critics/film buffs/etc. My guess is that we're more likely to pick apart movies with which we "disagree". And we might be more likely to give a movie a pass in certain respects if we agree with it.

For instance, I'm mostly sympathetic to the take on the Troubles presented by In the Name of the Father, so I'm not too bothered by the rather major liberties it takes with things that actually happened. I can easily see though, where in another context, say, a movie with a sensibility that really rubbed me the wrong way, I'd hammer on those historical inaccuracies and use them as evidence in the case against the movie.