CATEGORIES Obits, Cinematical
Paul TataraWith the passing of Paul Clinton from his mortal coil, it's time to remember CNN's other film critic. "Wait," you may ask, "CNN has another film critic?" Yes indeedy - at least up until 2003, that is. Whereas Paul Clinton's editor claimed he constantly had to slice the world "perfect" out of Clinton's reviews, I can only imagine how many synonyms for the word "suck" the editor had to remove from the reviews of Paul Tatara. Tatara practically served as Clinton's id at CNN for several years; the two of them even posted dueling best/worst lists at year's end. While Clinton was known for being diplomatic in the face of schlock, Tatara was unsparing in his distaste for most of what Hollywood had to offer.

Some of his reviews would begin with a mini-exegesis on the art and history of film - usually a wind-up pitch to telling his audience how badly a film deviated from every principle of good cinematic decorum. While his writing tended to be over the top and unnecessarily vicious, he was by far CNN's more...colorful reviewer, and gifted us with some wonderful one-liners. "If they ever remake 2001: A Space Odyssey", he said in his capsule review of Sweet November, "[Keanu Reeves] should play the monolith." Yee-OWCH. Heck, I even liked him when he dissed on personal fave films such as Run Lola Run, which he dismissed as "an elaborate video game disguised as a motion picture". He could be unsparing, yes, but his writing was always sharp, tight, and witty. (Check out Wikipedia for some other choice quotes, which may or may not be accurately sourced.)

This interview with Flak Magazine details the death of Tatara at CNN, which came about six months after he received death threats for his unkind review of Black Hawk Down. Since then, I haven't seen hide nor hair of the man. (And predictably,  CNN's movie writing has been unexceptional and droll since his departure.) Perhaps he's slaving away as the movie critic at some TV station in northern Alaska. Perhaps he's sweating it out in a Hollywood kitchen, still attempting to get that screenplay produced. Personally, I like to think he's holed up in some rat-infested Manhattan apartment surrounded by empty Jack bottles as he weeps into a copy of the weekend box office receipts for Big Mamma's House 2. Whatever the truth is, if he's still writing, I'd like to know where.