From `Flags' to `Antoinette,' don't judge films by their buzz

The Gripe

the gripe

October 20, 2006|By Chris Kaltenbach | Chris Kaltenbach,Sun Movie Critic

Call it the curse of advance ballyhoo. And it's a curse that can cut both ways.

Clint Eastwood's Flags of Our Fathers opens in theaters today, and before a single paying audience has seen it, the film is being hailed as an American classic, an Oscar contender and the greatest war film since Steven Spielberg's Saving Private Ryan. There are plenty of reasons behind that, including Eastwood's reputation (a Hollywood legend of the first order, the man's already won two directing Oscars, for Unforgiven and Million Dollar Baby) and the film's subject (the "greatest generation," the men and women who won World War II). But before it gets placed up there with Citizen Kane in the pantheon of great American films, shouldn't some people see it first?

Sofia Coppola's Marie Antoinette also opens today. It has the unmitigated gall to surround the legendarily dismissive French queen with a modern-day soundtrack. Plus, the French at Cannes (who require no excuse to hate anything that's on the screen) apparently hated it. Although unseen by American audiences, this film must be a disaster, right? And then, there's John Cameron Mitchell's Shortbus, which defenders of morality throughout the land - many of which have no intention of ever seeing the film - have excoriated as some sort of how-to manual for perverted sex.

Reasoned opinion is fine, and to anyone who actually sees any of these films, I look forward to hearing what you think. But let's all do our best to ignore the unfounded, and often woefully uninformed, hype.

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