You probably hadn't heard of David's Movie Notebook before today. I know that I hadn't before last Monday, when Evan Dickson gave this site a look, only to find Roger Ebert's review of The Last Airbender staring back at him. A bit of digging after that -- much of it by Latino Review's George Roush and countless curious colleagues -- and it became apparent that PR professional David Eng has lifted his reviews since 2006 from not just Ebert, but Variety, The Hollywood Reporter, Entertainment Weekly, The New York Times, The Los Angeles Times, Time Magazine and, yes, even Cinematical. We've chronicled just the 2010 offenses in this gallery (that's forty-four to date); some pictures have been cropped out in order to make room for the necessary text.
To be fair, he does throw in an occasional thought or two of his own. Steve Crum's description of Anne Hathaway as "sweet goodness" in his Alice in Wonderland review was altered to note that she better represented "sweet but bland goodness." More often than not, Dave chimes in with a zippy opening and closing line, just before and right after the original opening and closing paragraphs. For example, my altered Solitary Man review now leads with, "The disasters and misfortune that befalls Ben are purely of his own making. There's absolutely no catastrophic disaster depicted that's due to fate or even an act of God." Sound like anyone we know?
Now, when the college kids pull this, I can almost understand. They feel pressure to perform, maybe even a sense of entitlement to anything out there on the Internet. (Todd's already covered this well.) But shouldn't a man twice their age know better than to steal from other college kids, know better to be so lazy in a day and age when all it takes is a quick search with Google to reveal such theft? Eng isn't even getting paid to pass this stuff off as his own. If that blog's to be believed, this is just to keep his friends in the loop. Who knew that having one's own opinion about movies could be such a burden?
David Eng, that's who.
Update: On Tuesday afternoon, Eng did not answer calls to his office at the Lower East Side Tenement Museum in Manhattan.
On Wednesday morning, he removed the reviews plagiarized from Roger Ebert and myself (all of which had comments of complaint posted on them), but left up those belonging to the trades and several other outlets.
On Wednesday afternoon, he answered but refused to comment. The blog disappeared shortly thereafter. The pages remain cached on Google.