5/15/13 UPDATE: Yesterday Angelina Jolie published an amazing OpEd in the New York Times describing her decision to have a double mastectomy. In my mind this was a brave & inspiring act (comparable to Betty Ford’s actions on behalf of breast cancer and addiction awareness in the past). So I have frankly been shocked by the negative buzz not just on Facebook but even on NPR. Me, I don’t know Angelina Jolie personally, so I have no comments to make about her personal life, but I know her work, & I applaud her AS A FILMMAKER (see below).
Note that this post went live on International Women’s Day (3/8/13), and at that time, Roger Ebert was still alive. After due consideration, I have decided not to revise my comments in the light of subsequent events.
Now Angelina Jolie is one of the best-known women in Planet Earth, so you wouldn’t think she would need any kudos from little me… & yet the numbers say otherwise…
Here is a chart culled from data on Rotten Tomatoes showing critical reaction to her directing debut:
Notice anything funny about these numbers? 19 out of 20 female film critics (= 95%) gave In the Land of Blood & Honey a “Fresh” rating; 33 out of 57 male film critics (= 58%) gave this film a “Rotten” rating. Because male critics outnumber female critics by more than 2 to 1, the RT “consensus” is that In the Land of Blood & Honey is “Rotten” Not so funny, huh 🙁
Here are two representative comments from critics I have never met (either f2f or in cyberspace) & do not know:
Sample “Fresh” comment from a Female Critic: “A brilliant debut written and directed by Jolie. She has an artist’s eye, strong personal vision, and a masterful command of her stars.” (Victoria Alexander)
Sample “Rotten” comment from a Male Critic: “Although Jolie’s good intentions are easy to admire, those characters are hard to believe, and the bloody narrative has an oddly bloodless effect.” (Rick Groen)
And here is a comment from someone I know very well, my CFCA colleague Roger Ebert: “The film does what all war films must, which is to reduce the incomprehensible suffering of countless people into the ultimate triumph of a few.” (Original Score: 2.5/4)
Roger: Anyone who has actually seen this film will be as appalled as I am by your comment. Did you stay to the end? If yes, were you awake? No spoilers here, folks, but the last moments of this film are almost unbearably tragic.
There is no “ultimate triumph” for anyone in this film… except filmmaker Angelina Jolie. So BRAVA, Angelina Jolie! You are Penny’s 2013 International Women’s Day Honoree & In the Land of Blood & Honey is FF2 Media’s Women’s History Month Film-of-the-Day.
Photo: A Serbian soldier uses a terrified Bozniac woman as a human shield in In the Land of Blood & Honey (filmmaker Angelina Jolie’s writing/directing debut feature). Credit: © Ken Regan/FilmDistrict and GK Films.