Since the recent Film Criticism Blogathon, I've been thinking: how many different ways can a critic pan a movie? How many other ways have I used in panning a movie? A search through my files uncovered this 1998 piece:
Does size matter?
An exclusive interview with the King of the Monsters
By Noel Vera
(The following interview was taken at the lowest level of Grand Central Station, beneath 42nd Street, New York City, where Godzilla was found chewing on a subway car)
N: First of all, may I congratulate you on the success of your latest film, Mr. Godzilla--?
N: Oh, Ms. That’s right, in this movie, we learn that you are a woman.
G: I’ve always been a woman, sir; it’s just you humans that fail to notice.
N: Thinking about it, ma’am, it should have been obvious. The grace of your walk, the feminine way you swat down helicopters…
G: Confidentially, sir, I was considered quite a dish among my fellow lizards.
N: Anyway, Ms. Godzilla, what do you think of the movie?
G; Oh, fabulous. Wonderful, wonderful film. “We will give you a real star vehicle,” said that dear man, Dean Devlin, and he was as good as his promise. That other dear, Roland Emmerich, seemed to know how to catch the good side of my face, no matter what direction I was facing.
N: I thought I saw bits of Bette Davis and Joan Crawford in your profile. Not to mention Hilary Clinton and Margaret Thatcher, and some of our local dragons in Philippine show business.
G: Such as?
N: No one you know; let’s just say that when aroused, they tend to imitate your performance in the film. With nowhere near your style, of course.
G: There are people who have whispered to me that at the next Oscar ceremonies, I could be a serious contender for Best Actress. I know, it’s my first film and I’m a foreigner and all. But I’ve already applied for my green card, which they should approve if they know what’s good for them. And I do have one important qualification for an Oscar.
N: Which is?
G: Why, box office, sir. All Best Picture winners at least have good boxoffice. Why give the statuette to something good that no one has ever seen?
N: That’s one thing I want to ask you about: reports were that the film has done well--
G: Extremely well, sir.
N: But not as well as expected.
G: That is a complete and unmitigated lie! A cheap rumor, spread by the Titanic people, who can’t bear to have their film upended!
N: But the boxoffice figures show--
G: --that my film is no. 1 in the United States, is no. 1 in every country it was shown in, and will be no. 1 here. So what if it made less than Mission Impossible on its opening weekend? Fifty million dollars is still fifty million dollars!
No, I refuse to believe the film was less successful than expected. I have conquered America; I will conquer the world. Not to mention your country.
N: I’m sure you will. But what about what the critics say?
G: Film critics! Let me tell you a joke: what’s a thousand film critics castrated and buried and at the bottom of the sea?
N: I give up.
G: A good start.
N: A-hah, a-hem. But getting back to those castrated critics--
G: Buried at the bottom of the sea--
N: They point out what seem like inconsistencies in the way your size is depicted; like your fitting into a subway tunnel but not the Park Avenue tunnel, which is bigger. And why, come to think of it, are you heavy enough to make deep footprints in soil, but not to cause the Brooklyn Bridge to collapse, especially after the suspension cables have snapped? Those cables are practically the bridge's only support.
G: One does not discuss the weight of a woman to her face.
N: I’m sorry.
G: I should bite your face off.
N: I apologize. Have a finger instead.
G: Never mind. I’ve just had a thousand tons of fresh tuna and I’m feeling a little bloated. I love tuna sashimi. Can never seem to get enough of it.
N: It’s good for the heart, I hear.
G: And for the figure! Have you seen me in my past movies? I look positively fat! Here, at least, I get to show my new slim, svelte self.
N: If I may bring up another question: you are known to breath radioactive fire. Why do you use it so sparingly? Why not roast the people in the Park Avenue Tunnel, say, if you want them so bad?
G: Now I know where you get your questions, from that horrid, horrid film critic, Roger Ebert! I’m so glad they made fun of him in this movie by making him a buffoon of a mayor. I especially like it that he can’t resist Hershey’s kisses, and they blew him up to an obscene size. He’s not really a critic, you know; he just summarizes the film’s plot, then gives it a thumbs-up or thumbs-down.
Anyway, about my radioactive breath--I hate to talk about this, but I really have a delicate constitution.
N: A delicate constitution?
G: It’s my stomach, you see; it gets easily upset. The fire breath is a side effect. When I see helicopters chasing me, I sometimes get too excited, and I, well, belch.
That’s why I don’t breath flame if I can help it. It’s too embarrassing, especially in front of the cameras.
N: Let’s get into some serious questions: what about the story? The acting in the film? What about the human element?
G: The human element? Sir, you're behind the times. No one is interested in story nowadays, except a few nearsighted, overweight men working overtime on their word processors. Why, Godzilla was the closing film at the Cannes International Film Festival!
N: It’s a far cry from when they used to show films by Ingmar Bergman, or Orson Welles.
G: Ingmar Bergman? Orson Welles? Totally passé. Bergman was completely dropped from the most recent Sight and Sound survey of the Ten Best Films of All Times; I hear they’re considering Steven Spielberg or James Cameron to replace him.
As for actors, my dear sir, no one comes to these movies to watch the actors; they came to see me, the star of the film. I was in tears when I argued with Mr. Emmerich: “But you can’t waste time on some silly love affair! You should be focusing on my attempt to raise my children, my tragic frustration!” The dear man sympathized, but shot the love scenes anyway. Needless to say, Matthew Broderick and I are hardly in speaking terms. He should be careful about entering dark alleys.
N: And the future? What do you think you’ll do next?
G: I want to do something sensitive. Beautiful. Now, don’t raise an eyebrow: I want to show the world the more artistic side of me. Mr. Devlin, dear man, was mistaken when he said I “reproduced asexually” (if I’m asexual, why am I female?). That’s not true; I have a passionate nature, in need of a male to love and care for me. He should have given me a real leading man, someone virile and aggressive and basically inarticulate, like Sylvester Stallone or Arnold Schwarzenegger to complement my shy and retiring disposition.
I’ve been thinking about this story outline that was given to me, where I play the role of a beautiful prostitute who marries a man for love, and for love, gives him up.
N: That sounds like a remake of Camille.
G: Camille was decades ago; who remembers? Besides, it’s so romantic!
Or perhaps this one, where I play the role of a schoolteacher, who doesn’t know the man she married is gay.
N: Would you have Roland Emmerich direct, or Dean Devlin write?
G: No. Confidentially, Emmerich, dear that he is, has all the subtlety of a ten-ton truck, while Devlin, another dear, can’t write a love scene to save his life. Who knows, maybe I can train one of my children to become a director. The eggs that were destroyed in the movie, of course, were props; I had my real eggs hidden away in some safe place; I hope to send them when they’re hatched to New York University to study film.
N: Have you been to the Philippines? What do you think of it?
G: Oh, beautiful, beautiful country! The beaches! And I love your mangoes--they actually make me forget tuna for a while.
N: Would you consider living here?
G: I might. I might. I could try acting in a few of your films. I hear your audiences love big, expensive dramas with glossy photography and expensive costumes. Can you see me in one of your period dramas?
N: Um, yes, actually I have, I think.
G: Or I might run for office. I hear that film celebrities are very popular here. Madame President Godzilla! Doesn’t the sound of it make you positively tremble?
(I would like to thank Columbia Pictures and Northwest Airlines for making this interview possible; I promise that if any more of these international publicity junkets are made available to me, I will view all their future productions in a more favorable light. NV)