November 11, 2002
ELVIS HAS LEFT HIS SENSES:REVIEW: of Black Hawk Down (James Bowman)
There is a kind of professional courtesy in the movie-reviewing business whereby one doesn't criticize one's fellow-critics for their view of a particular film. But as I now have reclaimed my amateur status, I don't mind mentioning the sneering review of Black Hawk Down by Elvis Mitchell in The New York Times for what it tells us, not about the movie but about Mr Mitchell and the New York Times. They are, of course, entitled to their opinion, but
not to think so highly of it that it causes them wilfully to mischaracterize the movie they are supposed to be reviewing. And to call Black Hawk Down an exercise in "jingoism" or to suggest that it is "incoherent militaristic propaganda" which "wants to be about something" but is not, seeming instead "to choose futility arbitrarily" is one of the most stunning mischaracterizations I have ever seen in a movie review.
I'd very much liked Mark Bowden's book and looked forward to the movie, but a series of reviews like the one from the Times that Mr. Bowman mentions made it seem like all the film had going for it was exciting action scenes. On finally watching it the other night, it was a great pleasure to find it was reasonably faithful to the real events and was very much a throwback to older films--where the Americans are obviously well-intentioned good guys, regardless of how you feel about their mission--even as it exploited the very newest cinematic techniques. Mr. Bowman, as is so often the case, wins this battle of the reviewers hands-down. If you aren't familiar with his review site, it's well worth your checking out. Posted by Orrin Judd at November 11, 2002 10:26 AM