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Roger Ebert on Sucky Movies

From Roger Ebert’s review of the bad movie Jaws: The Revenge (which I have not seen):

Here are some things, however, that I do not believe: That Mrs. Brody could be haunted by flashbacks to events where she was not present and that, in some cases, no survivors witnessed. That the movie would give us one shark attack as a dream sequence, have the hero wake up in a sweat, then give us a second shark attack, and then cut to the hero awake in bed, giving us the only thing worse than the old "it’s only a dream" routine, which is the old "is it a dream or not?" routine. That Mrs. Brody would commandeer a boat and sail out alone into the ocean to sacrifice herself to the shark, so that the killing could end. That Caine’s character could or would crash-land his airplane at sea so that he and two other men could swim to Mrs. Brody’s rescue. That after being trapped in a sinking airplane by the shark and disappearing under the water, Caine could survive the attack, swim to the boat, and climb on board – not only completely unhurt but also wearing a shirt and pants that are not even wet. That the shark would stand on its tail in the water long enough for the boat to ram it. That the director, Joseph Sargent, would film this final climactic scene so incompetently that there is not even an establishing shot, so we have to figure out what happened on the basis of empirical evidence.

(here’s a video of the scene).

Ebert on the Poseidon Adventure:

Anyway, everybody is sloshing around on the ceiling of the ballroom, but Hackman manages to get the other four Oscar winners and the six other movie stars up the Christmas tree. He desperately pleads with the other passengers to follow his lead, but they refuse. Hell, I knew they would. They were only extras.

It is now time for a number of obligatory things to happen. Hackman, as the righteous liberal minister, has to have a confrontation with Ernest Borgnine, the tough cop. Then Borgnine has to reassure his wife, Stella Stevens, who plays a former prostitute, that no one on board could possibly recognize or remember her. Then Jack Albertson, as Manny, and Shelly Winters, as Belle, have to say several Yiddish words and refer to Israel and their grandchildren a couple of times, until we catch on they’re Jewish.

Then we look around for the black, but there isn’t one this time. There is a kid brother, though. As soon as Gene Hackman tells everyone to stay put, his job is to wander off and get lost. You know how these things work. There’s also a shy bachelor and a girl without any self-confidence, and the bachelor helps the girl to regain her confidence, and in the process, they discover themselves. You know.

While all of this is taking place, Shelley Winters reveals that she was the underwater swimming champion of the Young Woman’s Hebrew Assn. (or maybe the New York Park District) several decades ago. She has put on a little weight since then, about 100 pounds, but she still wears her first-place gold medal around her neck. What do you think the odds are that, sooner or later, we are going to see her swimming underwater in this movie) Would you say excellent?

(I don’t think Ebert hated Poseidon; he was just having fun).

Ebert on Bad Movies:

When Patrick Goldstein of the Los Angeles Times was critical of Rob Schneider’s "Deuce Bigelow, European Gigolo," Schneider took out a full-page ads in the paper informing Goldstein was not qualified to review it–what prizes had he won? In my review, I wrote: "As chance would have it, I have won the Pulitzer Prize, and so I am qualified. Speaking in my official capacity as a Pulitzer Prize winner, Mr. Schneider, your movie sucks."

Here’s Ebert on making the transition to speechlessness:

Curiously, my love of reading finally returned after I picked up Cormac McCarthy’s Suttree, a book I had already read not long before my first surgery. Now I read it two more times. I was not "reading the same book." I was reentering the same experience, the same occult and visionary prose, the life of Suttree so urgently evoked. As rarely before, a book became tactile to me. When Suttree on his houseboat pulled a cord and brought up a bottle of orange soda pop from the cool river, I savored it. I could no longer taste. I tasted it more sharply than any soda I’ve ever really had. When Suttree stopped at the bus station for a grilled cheese, I ate it, and the pickle, and drank the black coffee. I began to live through this desperate man’s sad life.

Then movies came back, and then writing. Then contentment. I may have things to be depressed about, but I am not depressed. My remaining abilities have expanded to fill the empty spaces left. My life seems full again, almost. I am busy. I am useful. I am happy.

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