Thoughtful reviews, the Boulder film scene

Alias: Season Three

In its third season, Alias pulls off a hat trick with another round of pulpy page-turner adventure —Matt Anderson (DVD review...)

" I have heard of the arrogant male in capitalistic society. It is having a superior earning power that makes you that way. "
— Greta Garbo, Ninotchka

MRQE Top Critic

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Why do certain critics love trash and trash the movies you love? Maybe it’s because they were dropped on their heads as infants. Maybe it’s their upbringing. Or maybe it’s purely a matter of bad genes.

We’ve invited our writers to introduce themselves so that perhaps you can get a better insight into their unfathomable minds.

Who are you?

Marty covers revivals, interviews, art films, and other dark corners of the film world
Marty covers revivals, interviews, art films, and other dark corners of the film world

I’m Marty Mapes, founder, owner, editor, of Movie Habit. I give myself lots of titles in lieu of money.

What are your writing credentials?

I wrote my first movie review for The Owl, our high school newspaper. I did well in some writing classes in college. Essays, mostly. I was a real pest writing letters to the editor throughout high school and college. I had an opinion column in the Colorado Daily, back in the day. I thank my former roommate Dave and my wife Andrea for reining me in and teaching me a little humility. Alonzo Fyfe also had an influence on my writing style, teaching me some logic and philosophy that I didn’t have in school. And I’ve been writing for Movie Habit for as long as it’s been around, and then some. You learn to write by doing, like any good habit, so I try to keep it up.

What are your movie credentials?

I got a film degree from CU. For my film history training, I had an amazing one-two punch from Bruce Kawin and Stan Brakhage. One was rigorous and rigid; the other was poetically insightful and very fluid. What a combination! It was ideal. I regret that the classes were often at 3:00 in the afternoon and that I hadn’t yet discovered the joys of coffee.

Ultimately my degree was in film production, not film history. My first thesis was a rap video which was not bad, if I do say so myself. I hadn’t learned my limits, though, and went on to make another thesis film, a dramatic comedy (starring Trey Parker and Matt Todaro) that wasn’t nearly as good. I’m no good at fiction. I need to stick to essays.

Why should anyone listen to your opinion?

I’m pretty careful not to dole out four stars unless I’m really sure, so hopefully when you see a high rating from me, you’ll recognize it as a special case. That’s why (or rather, when) people should listen to me. But a lot of the time, perhaps they shouldn’t. In the middle ground (2-3 star movies), I often don’t have much to say. If a movie appeals to you, go see it regardless of what I say.

When I hate a movie, you probably shouldn’t listen to my opinion. This doesn’t happen very often, but when it does, I’m often harping on some minor detail that completely ruined the movie for me, whereas the average viewer may be able to gloss over what, for me, was a major pet peeve (I’m thinking What the Bleep, Whale Rider, and Madagascar, all of which grated on my nerves but which were often seen favorably outside of Movie Habit)

Movie pet peeves?

The usual. Cell phones. People talking. Chair-kickers. Commercials in front of movies. DVDs where you can’t skip past the FBI warning and the promos. Pointless audio commentaries.

Do you have any non-movie habits?

I’m a pretty avid science reader. Not technology, but science. I love to find out what makes the universe tick. Part of my interest is evolutionary biology and brain sciences. You could say I’m an observer of human behavior, which may be how this interest overlaps with my interest in the movies.

I’m also fond of games. I don’t necessarily like the very competitive, zero-sum games where the winner gloats over a roomful of losers. I like to be in a crowd that’s having fun together, using their gray matter.

I like popular music, and I love getting new CDs, but unlike movies, I don’t feel like an expert. The field of “music” is just too big.

The Simpsons.

For pure escapism I read fantasy novels, although I try not to get trapped in the whole sci-fi/fantasy geekdom world. A steady diet of literature and new fiction keep me (I hope) from becoming a one-note wonder.

Give us some movie recommendations.

My pat answer is “Local Hero, Mr. Hulot’s Holiday, Koyaanisqatsi.”

If I were to actually think about it, I’d probably come up with a different list. I might include the Fanny trilogy, or just about anything else from Marcel Pagnol (My Father’s Glory, My Mother’s Castle, Letters from My Windmill, etc.). I might include some Miyazaki (Princess Mononoke, Spirited Away, Nausicäa). When I recently rented Buster Keaton’s Sherlock Jr., which I “had to” see in film class, I almost couldn’t believe how good it was.

Some excellent movies that I haven’t written about are Come and See, Cleo from 5 to 7, O Lucky Man, Grave of the Fireflies, and The Little Foxes.

Just about any Marx Brothers movie (it’s okay to fast-forward through the musical numbers). Just about any Jackie Chan movie (it’s okay to fast-forward to the stunts, chases, and fight scenes).

What are some of your guilty pleasures?

Kiki’s Delivery Service. Fans of Miyazaki say this one’s too sweet, but I love the idea that the “conflict” in a movie can be nothing more than finding meaningful work.

The Broken Lizard movies. I haven’t been able to bring myself to officially recommend one yet, but they always crack me up. The ones I’ve seen are Super Troopers, Club Dread, and The Dukes of Hazzard. I’ll have to rent Puddle Cruiser, now that it’s on DVD.

The occasional heartstring-tugger. I don’t like all of them, and I often hate them if they are too transparent. But once in a while, they work on me, in spite of my best efforts at cynicism. Mr. Holland’s Opus? Bridges of Madison County? I confess.

Some, but not all, Jerry Bruckheimer movies. Big, loud explosions and sweaty testosterone movies sometimes hit the spot.

  • Douglas Gastelum: It won't make you happy, but it will open your eyes, and for me at least, brought tears. March 4, 2006 reply
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  • Alex McPherson: Heya Marty,

    This is what got me hooked on that idea of popular film critique. The 7-parter on The Shining was fantastic:

    -Alex June 14, 2011 reply
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