My opinion comes
from my experience, and is not law. My evaluation of a film is based on the
supposed merit of the work, trueness to its form and objectives, and quality of
entertainment. A film made for 60 thousand dollars might be terrible, but it
might not be as bad for what it is as a 70 million dollar box office bomb,
given the time, talent and money involved. I can watch an unknown suffer
through a part, but I cannot tolerate quality actors wasting away on screen
I like films to
be honest with their messages, and not try to sneak things in as accepted fact.
Cider House Rules advertised everything except the fact it was about abortion.
American Beauty seems to really hate America, but it pretends to be a message
about finding beauty and happiness. I despise that, but it was well produced,
and downright interesting at times.
This is why I may
be hard on a film like American Beauty for its message, yet still give it four
stars. Good picture? Yes. Best Picture. Compared to Ripley and Sixth Sense? No
way. It was lauded for its anti-SuburbiaAmericanDream stand.
I like wickedly funny films, too, and anything
that makes me think. But I don't like having my moral position taken for
granted (like in Shakespeare in Love or The Cider House Rules.) I really,
really like Eyes Wide Shut despite its possible flaws, and South Park: Bigger
Longer and Uncut was uproariously on-point and should be required viewing for
More about my
I play with
names - like Watch-out-ski for Wachowski - it is only word play. Full,
unadulterated names and positions can be found elsewhere on the Internet, and
it is a waste of time to recount the credits here. You may think something is
misspelled or a typo, but it could be me making a pun or sly observation. You
just never know.
like slam-bang films, but to see the wider range of my experience and likes,
look at my woefully incomplete "Educational Features"
I pay particular attention
to "message" films, and offer my de-filtered re-filtered views.
And I elucidate
message from the way films are treated by the other media. Did you like Roland
Emmerich's and Dean Devlin's Godzilla? Almost universally and immediately
panned as a bomb, I thought it was a good film. Not great, like 2001, or A
Clockwork Orange, or Unforgiven. Godzilla was funny, well made, and with a
different approach to a classic monster. (And smart advertising: Here lizard,
lizard, lizard.) It did suffer from a lack of a strong hero and villainy.
I asked people
exiting the theater what they thought: They liked it. I also asked people who
told me it was a bomb, and many of them admitted they liked it too. Apparently
people don't know a bomb when they see one... *
The point is, many forces reflect on the way a film is reviewed, so pick and
choose reviewers and reviews carefully. At any rate, I will try to remain
honestly objective, and if I have any prejudices affecting my perception of a
film I will try to make them known to you in a thoughtful way. Feel free to
take me to task for anything. E-mail below.
See you down in front!
PS I think the anti-nuke freaks at LSU are
still mad at me for pointing out the propaganda espoused by Helen Caldicott in
|Who is Ted Baldwin? Ted is an expert photographer,
AVID editor, 3-D animator (esp. in LightWave), writer, narrator and producer.
He is currently CEO of 3rd Coast Digital Films, which is developing films for
international distribution, as well as highly effective digital sales media for
large corporations, pioneering specific uses of CD-ROM sales media, and
Internet business applications.
Most recently, Ted gave a talk on
using the "Hero Myth Cycle" in story telling. This is available for
purchase on video from 3rd Coast Digital Films (225)
And he did this
|Background Ted has been producing media for
thirty years. He had his own radio news show in 1967, and was involved in
Higher Education for twenty years. He has a Masters Degree in Theoretical
Physical Organic Chemistry from Louisiana State University. His thesis (1982)
has 100 pages of 3-D stereo view molecular pictures in it.
As a faculty
member at LSU, Ted was in charge of television production for all of the
Science and Engineering departments. He has produced more than a thousand
documentaries and educational programs, most notably, a series of sixty video
programs for W.H. Freeman/Scientific American Books in use around the
|FILM Ted shot his first experimental film as
a Sophomore in High School in 1969. At Eastern Illinois University, Ted took
cinematography classes and completed three film shorts, winning a film festival
with his animated film Naps. (He continued his media career as News director,
Program Director and then Manager for the campus radio station). Ted also
studied propaganda in speech communications while at EIU.
faculty member At LSU, Ted wrote film reviews for the Daily Reveille for five
years. His articles were routinely read to film and English classes as examples
of good writing. In 1996, Ted was on the staff of Shot in LA Magazine, and
wrote reviews and analysis of films and effects. He started this column in
April of 1999.
1987, Ted won the River City Film Festival with a short video about LSU's
College of Basic Sciences. He also won second place in the Southern Lantern
tri-state competition with a video about LSU-Alexandria. Ted was considered to
be the video artist at LSU. Ted left LSU in 1990 to start his own Film and TV
In 1989, Ted
helped write and produce "Razor in the Box" for Sly Turk Productions.
In 1996, Ted and a partner produced, shot and edited a 90 minute documentary
about homeless teenagers finding hope in hopelessness. "Gutter Punks"
went to the Hamptons International Film Festival as one of ten documentaries
selected from around the world for the prestigious competition. It was the
first digital film at the festival. Since that time, Gutter Punks has been
shown in Sweden and Denmark, and is being distributed by Monarch
As a 3-D expert animator and
object modeler, Ted has created more than a thousand animations in the last ten
years, including 3-D storyboards for his film projects.
currently developing several screenplays, including a sci-fi epic, comedies,
horror and drama. He writes film reviews instead of having a life, and takes it
out on the films.
Meanwhile the comics (a la Leno) were enthralled with what a huge bomb Godzilla
was on the film's opening night. Considering the Friday Tonight show is taped
Thursday afternoon Pacific Time, it does not seem likely that the true Friday
box office figures could arrive in time for an objective view.
The only film I recall being "bombed"
like that before - opening day - was Schwarzenneger's "Last Action
Hero". It too was a funny film, with interesting twists. Had its flaws,
but not a bomb. Critics actually unleashed their barrage the day before its
release - and many of the critics again were the stand-up types. Maybe they
didn't like the fact Arnie was promoting Pres. Bush's campaign.
Considering the last big film Emmerich and Devlin
put forth was the "kick the alien's ass" pro-US pro-individual effort
pro-air-force Independence Day smash, some people could have been looking for
Godzilla to fail. It made more than 140 million dollars at the box office, as
much as Deep Impact, which was hailed as a thoughtful, successful film. No one
called Deep Impact a bomb, even though it kind of cratered artistically...
And recently, in an amazing coincidence that
amazes even the coincidence makers, Kevin Spacey - whose adequate to good
non-stretch performance in American Beauty won the Academy Award for Best Actor
- just happens to be the point man on Dick Gephardt's (D-Missouri) 2000
media campaign to recapture the House of Representatives for the Democrats. He
certainly will be more effective as a speaker with that Oscar stastandingding
on the podium next to him. I guess I just have Wag the Dog on the