New York Magazine Blows Inception's Rave Review Record

by Anne Thompson
July 12, 2010 5:01 AM
18 Comments
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Thompson on Hollywood
Expect an Inception backlash. Warner Bros.' marketing pattern is to launch a big movie's buzz with the internet press and trades, then let the established print critics (who tend to be tougher on films) have at it closer to release. And so the inevitable negative review from New York's David Edelstein breaks Inception's 17 for 17 record on Rotten Tomatoes.

Edelstein seems to have taken exception to those of us who suggested that the movie is Kubrickian. Interestingly, Edelstein is a card-carrying protege of Pauline Kael (or Paulette), who never liked Kubrick. In fact, she panned 2001: A Space Odyssey in Harper's in 1969, called it an "Erector-Set approach to movie-making." And Edelstein also didn't care for The Dark Knight, calling it "noisy, jumbled, and sadistic."

There will be more pans to come.

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18 Comments

  • Ted | July 19, 2010 9:46 AMReply

    The New York bias is obvious now. Why, I don't know. Rex Reed's review, in particular, was a hate-inspired rant against Nolan, barely even a review of the movie.

    Neither Dark Knight nor Inception nor Memento are perfect movies, but Nolan is gifted at what he does. To say otherwise is just mean-spirited garbage. I'm truly baffled at why he is generating such venom from some (ESPECIALLY NY) critics.

    I found Inception much more aligned to Cronenberg's eXistenZ than, say, The Matrix. The concept of losing track of where reality begins and ends is not new, and the pushing-and-popping the stack premise of it I first experienced in Hofstadter's Godel, Escher, Bach, written in the 70s.

    Why some critics look down on the "naive" filmgoer, who is intrigued by complex ideas, pop psychology, and inventive storytelling is beyond me. When critics like this ponder on the demise of filmmaking because it lacks "moral centers", as Inception/Nolan are here, it just seems absurd. Not all movies are all things. To me, it's like not liking Schindler's List because it isn't "fun".

    My rant. Thank you. And goodnight.

  • Andy | July 16, 2010 5:47 AMReply

    I saw the midnight showing of Inception, and it's now one of my favorite movies of all time. This guy is a windbag who's pretentiousness is staggering. Go see this movie. It's not hype, it really was that good. Everybody I know says I'm impossible to please with new movies. I was blown away.

  • Brian | July 14, 2010 3:54 AMReply

    Armond White's pan of INCEPTION is up on the New York Press website. Rex Reed's pan is up on the New York Observer website. Now, you can argue that these three (Edelstein, White and Reed) are the usual suspects, but I have to say that everything I've read about this film and every trailer I've seen indicates to me that the film is based on the most outlandish and far-fetched comic book-level concepts of the nature of dreams. It's like making a film about the tooth fairy as if the tooth fairy were real and expect it to get taken seriously. Granted, they actually did make such a movie, but it was aimed at children and nobody thought to compare it to Kubrick.

    There was a Japanese animated film back in 2006 called PAPRIKA, directed by Satoshi Kon, that dealt with entering people's dreams. (Did that film inspire Nolan?) The premise was ludicrous there also, but it was easier to take in an anime format, esp. when filled with such beautiful animated imagery. With live-action, I just don't think I'd accept the basic premise. As opposed to a film like, say, THE MATRIX, where a fanciful premise made perfect sense to me.

    Off the top of my head, the films that best captured the dream state for me were two films from different eras, in both of which dreams played only a peripheral role. I'm talking about the way film as an art form can capture imagery, tone and a feel that match, for me, what the dream state is like. They are VERTIGO (Hitchcock, 1958) and THE FURY (De Palma, 1978).

  • GP | July 13, 2010 11:42 AMReply

    Does anyone even read New York magazine anymore? I have a sneaking suspicion this will have ZERO box office impact anyway, further demonstrating just how far print reviewers have slipped towards complete and total irrelevancy....

  • BoBrYan | July 13, 2010 11:00 AMReply

    Have never really cared for Edelstein much at all. His reviews go against the tide many times just to be different or cool. He's a tool. To all the people who called The Dark Knight muddled or hard to follow, find a couple brain cells to rub together and get a clue.

  • K. Bowen | July 13, 2010 8:41 AMReply

    I don't think the film is particularly Kubrickian, either. Aside from a few visual cues, that comparison doesn't work.

    Tarkovsky. A bit of Stalker. A bit of Mirror. A lot of Solaris.

    Tarkovsky.

  • Darren Baker | July 13, 2010 7:54 AMReply

    The Dark Knight was not a perfect film, but the problems it had were not due to it being, quote, "...noisy, jumbled, and sadistic." They lay more in the 'adult male who runs around at night wearing a unitard' category. But I digress...

    Everyone has a right to their opinion, even dickhead contrarian film crickets. Live with it. As a general rule, when everyone agrees on something, *something is rotten in Denmark*. And to the person who said that this is proof that print journalism is irrelevant - it isn't proof. Just as much, if not more, hackneyed amateurish journalism can be found on the brightest spots of the Internet. People are idiots wherever you go - it's our default setting.

  • Josh Daniels | July 13, 2010 5:58 AMReply

    I think the issue separating the Dark Knight/Batman Begins lovers from others is that those of us who like it have testosterone, and masculinity. And those against are probably effeminate men or women or losers who lived in their mothers basement all their lives.

  • SteveW | July 13, 2010 5:48 AMReply

    It's funny--plenty of critics dissed the even bigger megahit "Titanic" but I don't recall its fans being so defensive and belligerent about it. I think it's a difference in the fan base. "Titanic" was beloved largely by teenage girls, who were more likely to shrug off the critics and say, "Oh well, I loved it anyway." But "Dark Knight" has the comic book fanboys, who are more likely to pick a fight (at least, via keyboard).

  • Anne Thompson | July 13, 2010 5:22 AMReply

    I had problems with The Dark Knight's length and narrative structure. As strong as the movie was, it was often muddled in the last third, overwhelming, and far from perfect.

    I have great respect for David Edelstein --while not always agreeing with him. Good critics often write without regard for a film's commerciality, as they should. BTW, Edelstein wrote me to say that he admired Kubrick's 2001.

  • SteveW | July 13, 2010 5:05 AMReply

    As someone who walked out in the middle of "Dark Knight" EXACTLY because I found it noisy, jumbled, and sadistic, I'll defend Edelstein on this one (but hardly on every one of his reviews). Sorry, but just because a movie makes a lot of money and has some intense fanboys doesn't mean that everyone HAS to love it.

    Even though I disagree with him plenty, I think Edelstein's one of the more thoughtful critics left out there. Anyone who judges a critic by his box office impact or how well he loves the big hits doesn't understand what a critic's job is.

  • Nick Dets | July 13, 2010 3:35 AMReply

    "There will be more pans to come"

    ^ What evidence is there to support this? I don't understand why Pauline Kael worshipers feel the need to knock every celebrated filmmaker just to uphold her groundbreaking work as a critic. Movies made in the Hollywood studio system are always easy targets. Critics should be noticing the spectacular occurrence it is when a talent such as Nolan blossoms in the stifling business of recycled ideas - even if the movie isn't perfect.

    And let's face it, Kael's review of "Space Odyssey," though notorious, made absolutely no impact on the film's success!

  • kkvenil | July 13, 2010 2:21 AMReply

    Edelstein is a douch. Thanks, grusk, for naming those masterpieces of cinema that Edelstein loved so much (although, I did love Observe & Report, I can't lie). He's like that jackass that's on the Today Show who complained about Batman Begins saying "superhero movies are supposed to be fun, this isn't fun." Never listen to critics, always trust your own opinions - especially when they are as awful as an Edelstein review.

  • stoogedude | July 12, 2010 12:00 PMReply

    "Edelstein also didn’t care for The Dark Knight, calling it “noisy, jumbled, and sadistic.”"

    Well, if he hadn't lost credibility before, with his review of the spectacular "Dark Knight", he has very little credibility now.

  • ecurb | July 12, 2010 11:26 AMReply

    Being a movie critic is a blessing and a curse. You get paid to watch most movies before anyone else does, but you clearly can't enjoy them the way everyone else does. You need to really pay attention and nitpick. I have a friend who was a critic for a website for a few years. Now he can never watch a movie without making a critical assessment of the plot, characters, shots, etc. It's not something you look for when you watch 'Hot Tub Time Machine'. I think 'Inception' is going to be great and I'm really looking forward to it.

  • grusk | July 12, 2010 10:14 AMReply

    From the guy who gave the Invention of Lying, the Time Travelers Wife, Observe and Report, Notorious, Twilight, and MY favorite, Zohan, better reviews. To a critic who likes Zohan. and the REST of the crap movies he gave fresh ratings. I will survive knowing he gave it a rotten review. But oh wait interesting theory....I think this was intentional. As in someone wants to be the only critic to give Inception a bad review.

  • FSkornia | July 12, 2010 8:02 AMReply

    Do we need more evidence about the increasing irrelevancy of the "established print critics"? I know I no longer follow critics reviews of films since they seem out of touch with the fact that every film does not need to be an artistic masterpiece. There are films that are pure enjoyment if you know how to have fun when watching them.

  • abracadabraehvainla. | July 12, 2010 7:31 AMReply

    haha, this totally broke my mojo. There are more reviews to come and look foward too. :O He isn't the first one that we will see, I am positive that it will be good though.

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