One of the things you learn when you’re in charge of coordinating reviews for a magazine’s film section is the difference between “editorial” coverage and “review” coverage.
“Editorial” coverage means that magazines can run features on Bruno (sorry, it takes too much time to insert an umlaut), so that Sacha Baron Cohen’s face pouts back at you from every newstand in the city. “Review” coverage means that everyone who has RSVP’ed for a press screening of Bruno has to acknowledge, via correspondence with NBC/Universal, that their review will not appear, in print or online, prior to Monday, July 6th, or else be barred from a screening.
Sometimes, it also means that, having pledged your loyalty to NBC/Universal’s publicity platform, you walk out of a screening of Bruno and are greeted by a six foot tall blow-up of Peter “Deep Throat” Travers’ Rolling Stone rave. (Apparently neither in print or online yet!) Granted, Travers is a professional mouthpiece who parrots pr talking points with the enthusiasm of a convert — it’s hard to imagine someone who would more obviously thrive in a fascist state — but still.
As if a strongly negative review, or a news cycle-hijacking decision to “break the embargo”, isn’t just manufacturing controversy, raising awareness, and selling tickets. As if this post isn’t just more free publicity, too. Nevertheless, you won’t catch me using this space to tell you whether or not Sacha Baron Cohen is the new Alexis de Tocqueville, just cold showin’ America to itself — at least not until opening week. I’d hate for Universal to blacklist the L right before they start holding Funny People screenings, people will wonder why we’re not reviewing the movie everyone’s talking about.