Tales of a Blurb...A Confession
I was alerted* last week to the above ad for the DVD release of Notes From Underground, which was an ad that Salon.com ran on their day pass entry page. What was remarkable, of course, was that the quote circled at the top of the page is by me. How flattering. However, it's time for me to come clean on this blurb and tell a story.
The quote is from a review I wrote in the June 1996 issue of Film Threat Magazine. But it is a bit out of context. While it is true that I used the word "masterful" it was not in relation to the movie, which I must say is not all that masterful. The actual quote was meant for the actor Henry Czerny. What I wrote was, "Czerny is masterful here with his nervous tics...."
I'm not sure where they pulled the quote that says "(see it now)" except to say they must have just made it up since it is in parenthesis. What I did write was that the movie was, 'worth recommending' because it is so disturbing to watch. [I was on one of my rigorous film kicks].
But here it gets more tricky.
At Film Threat we used to rate movies on a scale from 1 to 10. I gave Notes From Underground a 6. But for some reason my editor put it down as an 8. I told him to change it to a 6 when he had a chance. Time passed and no change was made. Then right before we went to press I again told him to give the review a 6. But what with hard deadlines there wasn't time to change it. The review was printed as an 8. I let it go as one of those mistakes that happen in the magazine business.
But it got more interesting...
First, I must say that the review was vague enough that it could be construed to be a lot more positive than it was. This is part of my writing style: I have a tough time ambushing a film if I like some aspect of it. This is the case with this film.
Soon after the review was in print I went to the Taos Talking Pictures Festival and happened to run into the director of the film, Gary Walkow. He was pleased to meet me and very estatic that I had understood his movie. I was a bit taken aback so I simply shook his hand and nodded my head. And then I noticed that he had a bunch of fliers he had printed up that used a large excerpt from my review, which he was handing out and placing on various tables in the festival office. I noticed that there were few filmmakers that year who were using fliers. As a consequence a good number of people were alerted to Notes From Underground and went to see it out of curiosity.
Taos is a cool place, it had a neat festival that became famous in part because the festival organizers gave a prize of five acres of land to the film that won the juried competition. Amazingly, Notes From Underground won the festival that year and the director instantly had five acres!
On the final day of the festival I went to the closing night party and ran into the director. Needless to say he was very happy. He than told me that my review had helped his film. I don't think my review pursuaded the jury but in his mind it didn't hurt. He said that the least he could do was to take me out to see the land. I declined.
Gary is a good guy and I have seen him on a few occassions but never told him this tale nor that I thought his movie was just okay. But, hey, what does he care? He has five acres of land outside of Taos New Mexico. And me? Well, after 13 years of being a film critic I finally have a blurb on a movie ad. [Even if there should be an asterick next to it].
[*Thanks to MrJeff3000! for finding the blurb.]