This is the trap that so many modern film critics fall into. Trying to make their point so hard that they use the loudest possible comparison to guarantee they will be heard. Thomson deserves credit for trying to back up his assertion, which seems to be based on the Red Riding films each concluding with greater doom and less comfort than the loose ends tied up by Coppola's films. I don't know if that necessarily makes them better. Red Riding's best chapters (1974 & 1980) still pale in comparison to Godfather's unfairly reviled final chapter. Again though, big words to back up but at least there is a review - or actually an essay - that tries. What if there is no review or essay and it is just something that oozes off the tongue of some overly enthusiastic blurbist? What then?
Last week we examined blurbist-to-the-max Peter Travers calling The Ghost Writer "one of Polanski's best." Taking an informal poll of some colleagues, those who were very positive on the film, to give me their top five films from his resume. Not one of them cited The Ghost Writer on that list. Maybe a few years or months from now you can call it one of Polanski's most underrated or underappreciated. But if respected critics can't even cite it as a Top Five film, then what other conclusion can you draw from Travers' quote? Either it was written to get noticed or his method of discrimination over what constitutes the "best" is far more lenient than most of us.
Believe it or not though, Travers has been topped at his own game in this week's ads for The Ghost Writer. It seems as if Nick Nicholson from CNN Radio believes that The Ghost Writer is not just "simply brilliant" but that it will also "rival Chinatown." C'mon now Nick. Now you're asking us to forego the contemplation that Travers was suggesting that the film is amongst the tippy-top of one director's resume and rank it alongside what is almost instantly referred to as the greatest screenplay ever written? The urge to pun this out with some variation on Chinatown's final line is too great and too easy. Besides - that is how you don't forget a name like Nick Nicholson. He is the guy ready to start a versus smackdown between Jake Gittes and Ewan McGregor's writer-with-no-name. Maybe Nick Nicholson feels a kinship with him.
Speaking of such, I don't know if Summit is doing a service to their film by letting us know that Mark S. Allen is in the tank for it.
"Mesmerizing. A nail-biting, edge-of-your-seat experience that you'll remember forever. Truly great in every way!"
What is that - five blurb cliches in one quote from the guy who said that Soul Men was "perhaps the best buddy picture EVER!"? Here is a little sampling from this particular ghost writer - in that he doesn't actually write anything.
"Brilliant and mesmerizing every step of the journey. (The Book of Eli)
"Thrilling. Smart. Sexy. Chilling, engaging. You'll be feeling this film long after you leave the theater. (The X-Files: I Want To Believe)
"Thrilling and jam-packed with edge-of-your-seat action!" (National Treasure)
"This is The Alamo to remember!" (The Alamo)
"This is the Cinderella to remember." (A Cinderella Story)
"Enchanting in every way!" (Lemony Snicket's A Series Of Unfortunate Events)
"Remarkable in every way!" (Sin City)
"One of the best movies in years! Remarkable and award-worthy in every way." (Matchstick Men)
"The most explosive cop drama in years. Brilliant in every way." (Pride and Glory)
"Visually breathtaking and stunning in every way." (The Phantom of the Opera)