007: Undercover Film Critic

This week I’m looking at one critic: Roger Moore (yes, his real name), who is a syndicated critic and has written for a gazillion reputable newspapers and websites, and been on TV. It’s quite a pedigree. You can find his bio on the bottom of the page on the links to his reviews. below.

I am applying the skim test: can you skim over the spoilers and still get the gist of the review?

Here is my review of three of his reviews:

1. Rosewater

Skimmable?: Yes. I can read the first paragraph and the last two. But in between? ding ding ding! That’s the alarm sounding. I must not give into temptation! I have to close that review as soon as I finish this one. But it beats RottenTomatoes (RT) by a mile. (See below.)


Moore’s Plot: It is totally confusing, beginning with the first sentence:

Maziar Bahari was a reporter in the right place at the right time. 

Moving on, basically he packs it all into one paragraph: Bahari saw his mother, happened upon the aborted “Green Revolution,” filmed it, hid the name of his sources and “within days of his return home,” was arrested. (“home” must refer to where his mother lives; Bahari is an Iranian ex-pat who lives with his wife and kids in Canada.)

Allow me: Sometimes the details make the plot more clear, before, after and even during the movie. This is what I gleaned from Rottentomatoes.com:

Newsweek reporter  Maziar Bahari, an Iranian ex-pat with a Canadian citizenship, was in Iran during their 2009 presidential election. He interviewed Mir-Hossein Mousavi, the primary opposition to incumbent president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. Before the polls closed, the President declared himself the winner. Mousavi’s supporters took to the streets. Bahari filmed the riots and then sent the tapes to the BBC; after that he was kidnapped and interrogated by a man he called “Rosewater.”

The movie is based on Bahari’s book, Then They Came for Me: A Family’s Story of Love, Captivity, and Survival.

Bottom Line: 3 out of 4 starts. …Stewart and Bernal have made a smart, moving and media-savvy memoir.

He further says that Jon Stewart “plays the suspense card well.”

The “suspense card”? Weird expression. His point is that there are twists and turns at every corner. Well played, Jon Stewart, well played.

And Bernal shuts down any complaints about a Mexican playing an Iranian with his performance — by turns cheerful, fearful, broken and disappointed.

Thank you, Roger More–now I am rest assured about something that would never occur to me.

Argh: Spoiled again! I trusted that RT’s one-paragraph synopsis would be just enough to entice the movie-goer. So I read on. A terrible mistake! It reveals the middle and the end. Curse you, RT, curse you! People, please learn from me. When reading a movie review, WATCH YOUR BACK! I shall challenge myself to suppress my memories of the spoilers. (Never works.)

Stephen and Jane getting married in 1967 (the real ones)

Interesting: Jon S. and Maziar B. became friends after he came back from his kidnapping. He asked Stewart to help make his book into a movie.  The movie was filmed in Jordan.

2. The Theory of Everything

The Hawking family, 1975

Skimmable? Barely. It’s worse than the Rosewater review.

Plot: This is a biography of the author of “A Brief History of Time” tucked into an appreciation for the extraordinary woman who married him, nursed him and propped up his increasingly disabled body so that his brilliant mind could do its work.

Bottom Line: 3.5 out of 4 stars. Eddie Redmayne, who plays Hawking, is phenomenal.

Interesting: This film is based on Jane Hawking’s book, Travelling to Infinity: My Life with Stephen. They are now divorced.

3. Miss Meadows

Skimmable: the best of the bunch, which isn’t saying much. The plot is too entangled with spoilers.

Plot: Katie Holmes plays a prim, proper and meticulous Miss Meadows, a substitute teacher who wears pretty flowered dresses and white gloves. She is also a card-carrying

Dusted and off the shelf
Dusted and off the shelf

vigilante (actually it’s pistol-toting). The police are going after her. But it’s hard to arrest such an arresting woman.

Bottom Line: 2.5 out of 4 stars:

“Miss Meadows” makes a dandy showcase for an actress who a few years on the shelf, when plainly she still has a lot to offer.

Nice word choice, sir. “Dandy” fits within the spirit of the movie, but somehow this sentence doesn’t look right. Is there a comma missing, or is it the grammar?

Yes, I am incredibly meticulously catty.



2 thoughts on “007: Undercover Film Critic

  1. Thanks Cindy! I know what you mean. I go to RT and certain critics. Though I’m having trouble with Rosewater. I love Jon Stewart! I heard an interview with him and it was so good I couldn’t turn it off. But spoilers galore! So is the cinema literally far from you or do you mean getting out of the house to see a movie?


  2. Movie Buffs want to share what they saw and felt–hard to bypass the key moments in the story to explain their analysis, isn’t it? If it’s a current film I want to see, I usually don’t read the reviews until after the fact. Or stop reading if they get too into it. I like to know how they rate it and that guides my decision to make the trip to the movie cinema or not. Nice post, Barbara!


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