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film criticism by maryann johanson | since 1997

my week at the movies: ‘Dear John,’ ‘Blood Done Sign My Name’

What? Young lovers? In love? With hugging and everything? Is there kissing? Oh no! So romantic! And then… war! What? Separated? Duty? Honor? *sob* Sacrifice? So sad! Won’t someone think of the lovers! Won’t someone think of the lovers! Man’s inhumanity to man! Slo-mo lovey-dovey on the beach! *sob* Dear John (opens in the U.S. and Canada on February 5, and in the U.K. on May 7)! Nicholas Sparks! Amanda Seyfried! Channing Tatum! *gag*

Blood Done Sign My Name (opens in the U.S in limited release on February 19; no Canadian or U.K. release dates have been announced) is an “epic” drama about the civil rights movement in North Carolina in 1970, a true story about a black man murdered by white men in front of witnesses, and guess what? The white men are acquitted of the crime. I hadn’t heard of this film before I received a screening invitation, and I still haven’t heard anything else about it, anywhere. How is it that the latest idiotic romantic melodrama (ahem: see above) gets more play than an important story about deep and pervasive societal injustices? No, wait, don’t answer that…
And that’s it. It’s another scarily slow week at the movies for me. It’s weird, but this movie week of mine, with two movies, is probably how things were for a professional critic in years gone by. For me, it feels like reason to panic, when my typical week typically encompasses six or more screenings. I picked a year at random: In 1952, 188 movies were released theatrically. That’s fewer new theatrical releases than I saw in 2009, and I saw only about 20 percent of the new theatrical releases.


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