Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Stephen Holden's Copy a Little Too Close to the Press Release?

Posted By on Tue, Apr 20, 2010 at 1:03 PM

The Times' third-pick film critic Stephen Holden published his Tribeca Film Festival preview on the cover of the paper's Friday's Arts section; much of it was reserved for how much he loves Lawrence Wright's My Trip to Al-Qaeda, though he touches on a few other films as well, including Jean-Pierre Jeunet's latest, Micmacs—for which his copy resembles the official description a little too closely.

Holden describes Micmacs as:

[A] surreal exercise in high slapstick from Jean-Pierre Jeunet (“Amélie,” “Delicatessen”) [that] follows a ragtag bunch of junkyard dealers as they engage in a comic David-and-Goliath battle with a weapons manufacturer. This whiz-bang comedy is a live-action “Toy Story” for grown-ups that channels the spirit of Buster Keaton...the film further establishes Mr. Jeunet as a genre unto himself.

Meanwhile, the Tribeca Film Festival describes Micmacs thusly:

Together with a motley crew of wacky new friends, [the protagnoist] exacts an intricate revenge plot against the giant weapons manufacturers responsible for his lowly lot in life. From the inimitable and hyper-imaginative director of Delicatessen and Amélie comes a wild and whimsical underdog story, a David and Goliath tale by way of Buster Keaton.

Is it just me? Or do the references to "David and Goliath" and "Buster Keaton" (the film is definitely much more Chaplinesque, in my opinion—directors only like to be Keatonesque because he's hipper these days!) indicate Holden was way too influenced by the official line? Mind you, I'm not accusing him of plagiarism or anything of the sort; critics are often influenced by what they read about a film beforehand—in my blurb in the L's upcoming Tribeca preview, I also compare the film to Toy Story, because it was an apt comparison the director made in the press notes. But this seems to be a case in which Holden got a little too intellectually lazy. You can just about imagine him at the keyboard: "Oh, don't call them a...'motley crew'. Call them...a 'ragtag bunch'! And forget 'inimitable'...a 'genre unto himself' works much better!"

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