14 Comments
Aug 11Liked by Sonny Bunch

Fans and influencers are not directly related, but I feel like both throw up real barriers to actually enjoying any given activity. I really like Star Wars - I watch the Disney+ shows, play a few video games, and have seen most of the movies multiple times. Yet I don't consider myself a fan because my only stake in Star Wars is enjoyment. Do I like this movie/show? Yes... do I *need* to love it? No. That frees me to appreciate Phantom Menace for what it is (directed at an adolescent audience) and not what I want it to be. Star Wars isn't part of my identity.

Likewise, an influencer is, by definition, trying to elicit a response in me without providing anything of value. This is in strong contrast to some heroic rando on YouTube who goes step-by-step for how to replace the brake pads on my car. Maybe the rando shop guy/gal gets lots of views but the value is in the teaching not "use this brake pad!" Contrast with the critic, who is trying to teach/inform, and the influencer is basically... what? An online egotist who is trying to control what I enjoy.

Good piece Sonny... I'll stick with the critics (even if they'd be aghast at my poor taste in movies)

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Aug 11Liked by Sonny Bunch

Re: Disney's closure of Galactic Starcruiser....

Is it too much of an ask that before a studio invests a quarter of a billion dollars into a physical attraction based on an IP, maybe... just MAYBE... be damn sure said IP is going to be insanely popular?

Not gonna lie, when I heard years and years ago that Disney was going to build a Star Wars themed park, along with a hotel, I was stoked. Then I found out it was going to be 100% based on the Sequel Trilogy and I basically lost interest. After the premiere of TLJ, I was hellbent that Disney was never getting my money for that stupid freaking park and its exorbitant hotel.

I'm a Millennial and as such, I'm the demographic that Disney should be targeting for sales. Universal was successful in parting my wife and I of our money when they made Hogwarts/Hogsmeade. Disney could have done the same thing by creating a Mos Eisley/Jabba's Palace and hotel in Cloud City.

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Aug 11Liked by Sonny Bunch

My favorite job ever was as an editorial assistant in the Entertainment department at the local paper. My boss wanted me to experience covering everything and anything and it was a real blast. Among other things, I reviewed movies—but not the good movies. Those were reserved for the real movie critic who could cite classics and knew what movies should be like. I just wrote reviews based on whether I thought someone who like this kind of movie would like this particular movie.

My favorite movie critic story came from an older gentleman who was a cool reporter during the heyday of movie junkets and schmoozing critics. He attended an advance run, then was accosted by the PR person for the film who asked him what he thought of it. He shrugged and said he liked it better than The Sound of Music. But the truth is that he hated The Sound of Music. That didn’t stop his comment from appearing in the next day’s ad: BETTER THAN “SOUND OF MUSIC!”

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Aug 11Liked by Sonny Bunch

Ronin was the first movie I ever saw twice in a theater when I was 18. It was the first time I felt like I knew what a car chase really was and got me interested in Audis because I had to look up what an Audi S8, something that could really move, was. And, there's even a tie-in to the Trump disaster in true Bulwark fashion, in that the night he won in 2016 I watched Michael Lonsdale's monologue on the 47 ronin and when belief has died, you have to decide who you'll fight for....they chose honor, they chose myth. And the feeling somehow that if America truly was going to elect Trump, maybe, as Robert DeNiro said, they chose wrong. Maybe I chose wrong.

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Aug 13Liked by Sonny Bunch

Sounds like the Roger Ebert school of movie critcism, with whom I am very aligned with. Good piece.

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Aug 11Liked by Sonny Bunch

One of your best opening paragraphs, Mr. Bunch.

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I grew up visiting the Thalia in NYC and my older brother would drag us into the City (only 12 miles away) to watch whatever he was interested in at the time. So once watched a German silent film with Swedish subtitles. Fortunately I knew enough German to hang on. He relied on the critics in that era, so Pauline Kael, Andrew Sarris and so forth. Decades later what remains for me are not the reviews which are usually focused on minor quibbles but the assessment that such and such a director was worth watching. That is what is missing from Rotten Tomatoes et al. It is helpful to be guided by someone regarding what movies are worth seeing.

One other matter.... related to this. A person's body of work is worth seeing and appreciating. So the less successful pieces along with the better ones. Taking the recent Barbie as an example, it is important to see Greta Gerwig as someone who is genuinely trying. An example of not trying is the recent Top Gun sequel that was so predictable that I was able to anticipate most scenes - my 44 year old son wanted to watch it, so we did.

Of course a critique can only guess who will have a worthy career and who will not when they see someone's first film. But there should be signs of someone who is worth following.

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