Mail from our readers
It turns out our Oscar Odds weren’t exactly on track. ”You should have put ‘Lose your office Oscar pool’ on the cover!” writes Mark Feldman of New York City. ”By following your picks, I would up losing big time.” We also missed the boat regarding a certain boy band — at least according to the hordes of ‘N Sync fans that felt David Browne’s C- review of their album was totally uncool. ”Maybe he just can’t dance, because it is brimming with undeniable beats and energy,” says Laila Shahrokhi of Knoxville, Tenn. And Tina Moore of Lincoln Park, Mich., says, ”It isn’t quite fair to attack their ‘contrived African-American vocal mannerisms’ when it’s those same mannerisms that are washing over America’s youth like a flood.”
Odds & Ends
Thank you so much for your Oscar Odds issue (”The Oscar House Rules”). If the Academy dares to again deny DreamWorks the Best Picture trophy, the award will lose all of its credibility. ”American Beauty rules!” as the great Kevin Spacey (as Lester Burnham) would say.
Thank you very much for enlightening us on the hidden talents of some Hollywood actors. For instance, who would have guessed that Mena Suvari wrote the screenplay for American Beauty, or that we have Tom Hanks and Michael Clarke Duncan to thank for The Green Mile? Would it be too much to ask for pictures of the nominated writers?
Lisa Schwarzbaum’s dismissal of American Beauty as an ”inconsequential sitcom story” (”Ooh, Dad’s feeling empty? Time to smoke pot!”) was totally uncalled for (”Critics’ Choices”). While a critic is certainly at liberty to dislike a film, he or she should be able to back it up with something more substantial than inane kvetching.
Anaheim Hills, Calif.
The need to spot trends where there are none is at best annoying, and at worst, lazy journalism. ”Midlife Crisis” suggested that the makers of Town and Country have every reason to be nervous in light of ”the recent grosses of boomer pics Hanging Up and What Planet Are You From?” The absence of American Beauty in any discussion of so-called boomer pics is glaring; but then, as it surpasses $100 million on its way to a bevy of Oscars, American Beauty dispels your own argument. That these films share nothing in common beyond the age of their actors seems obvious. Your article supports the knee-jerk thinking of studio execs to qualify their failures in simplistic terms. Here’s a trend — Hanging Up and Planet: bad movies. American Beauty: good movie. People want to go see good movies.
Studio City, Calif.
I love the IMAX presentation of Disney’s Fantasia 2000 (”The Big Picture”). But I’m really troubled by the fact that I had to shell out $12 to see it, and it has a running time even shorter than other animated films. IMAX films typically cost much less to make than the typical Hollywood release, yet the consumer is expected to pay an increased ticket price. Why is this? Remember when CDs first came out and everyone balked about the high price compared with albums? The typical industry response was, ”As technology advances, the price will come down.” But the price never has come down, and now we’re expected to pay close to $20 for music. Don’t you think it’s time to give the consumer a break?
Out of Sync
Hey, David Browne, it’s okay for a boy band to graduate to the next level (”’N Credible?”). I give the guys of ‘N Sync credit for stepping out of the conformed-pop box on No Strings Attached. If anything, their credit should be increased from the fact that they did this album on their own with no label backing (at the time). And as for ”the gawkiest-looking teen idols ever manufactured,” try the Backstreet Boys — just because they came first doesn’t mean they’re better.
Gee, I had no idea that David Browne has become the arbiter of who is and is not allowed to use R&B influences in their music. It seems that only whites with artistic ”credibility,” like Beck, and non-show business types, like the Red Hot Chili Peppers, can throw the funk all over their work. Pretty popsters cannot. I wish Browne had paid more attention to the music itself, not who he thought should have been singing it.
New York City
CORRECTION: In our Oscar Odds cover story, the photograph of Michael Mann, nominated as Best Director for The Insider, was incorrect. We regret the error.