Last week (or something like it) I was flipping through the Toronto alt-weaklies [sic] and found myself reading the ad for Capturing the Friedmans. I want to see the film, and I could not help but notice the 11 four-star reviews displayed in the advertisement – a good sign. Better still, the constellations were from respected newspapers and magazines, not "Bunni Beckley of the North Dakota Farm Tribune." However, the biggest review excerpt they chose to highlight, the one they put in the centre of the advertisement was this:
If you are at a cocktail party and you're chatting with two people who’ve seen ‘Capturing the Friedmans’ and you haven't -- consider yourself conversationally dead in the water.
That bit of nonsense talk is from Mary F. Pols, of the Contra Costa Times (located in Mount Diablo, California). I found her review online, and sure enough, she did in fact say something that inane. Here is the unabridged version:
If you're at a cocktail party this summer and you're chatting with two other people who have just discovered they've both seen "Capturing the Friedmans" and you haven't, consider yourself conversationally dead in the water. They'll be arguing and gesticulating and you'll be the third wheel. The only reasonable solution is to see this forceful, absorbing and painful documentary for yourself.
I am not upset, exactly, at the poor logic displayed in her introductory paragraph. I am more confused as to why the folks promoting Capturing the Friedmans (which appears to be an intelligent, thought-provoking film) would chose to bother with this dumb-ass bit of tattered typewriter ribbon offal. They quote the New York Times ("One of the most compelling American films I’ve seen in ages.") and David Denby of the New Yorker gets almost as much space as Pols for his blurb, but based on pure ad real-estate considerations, her quote gets top billing. I mean, I would like to point out that I’m not in the habit of reading the fine print on these things (unless the movie is bad, in which case it’s always a laff riot to see what fourth-bit hack decided to praise a craptacular product like Gigli). Why else would I have noticed the quote if it were not designed to catch my eye in the first place? Why, why, why?
Oh, and in case Mary F. Pols is reading this, and is not quite sure why I dislike her logic, observe the following:
The prosecution rests your honour.