IN MUSIC . . .
I can relate to Roger Ebert's burning need to walk out of the movie "Tru Loved." I was tempted to destroy my stereo with a sledgehammer probably two minutes into Deborah Harry's ironically titled October 2007 release "Necessary Evil." It's an excruciating CD, full of random, cheesy musical styles (smooth jazz? hair metal?) and embarrassingly inappropriate lewdness (the 60-year-old woman sings about the devil's d--- and her curlies, for God's sake).
But whether it was professionalism or, more likely, morbid fascination, I stuck it out. Sure, I gave the album no stars (and got plenty of hate mail for trashing the icon), but I felt the ex-Blondie singer's star power warranted a review, good or horrid. If the artist had been a nobody, I would have simply ignored it -- a philosophy that maybe Ebert should have followed.
Now, if I had bailed out early on the Freestyle Explosion concert at downtown Miami's AmericanAirlines Arena in October 2006 after the lead singer of Information Society had a flailing, angry meltdown before stalking off the stage, I would have missed a great show. What followed were short but lively sets by Company B, Newcleus, Nocera, Debbie Deb, Lisa Lisa and the triumphant reunion of the female trio Exposé, its first performance in about a decade. Some members of the crowd were actually break-dancing in their seats.
Sometimes, early deadlines at The Herald have forced me to duck out of concerts way before their encores, which really cheats the readers. At the four-day Langerado Festival last March, I had to file my review less than an hour after the headlining Beastie Boys took the stage. I missed half the show, including the most important part -- the encores. I understand why it had to be done -- no one can read a review that doesn't make it into the paper -- but readers didn't get an accurate take on the night's biggest act. If you don't see it to the end, you can't rightly comment on it.
-- MICHAEL HAMERSLY mhamersly@MiamiHerald.com
IN FILM . . .
Ive only walked out of two movies in my life.
The first was George A. Romeros "Dawn of the Dead." I was 12 and tolerated 10 queasy minutes until a pasty-faced zombie bit a huge chunk out of his wife's forearm, which sent me bolting for the exit.
The second time was 1994, halfway through "Clifford," a comedy I was reviewing for The Herald starring Martin Short. The movie had not been screened for critics, so I caught a showing at the long-defunct AMC Omni Cinema.
I should point out that "Clifford" was so bad that its director, Paul Flaherty, has yet to make another movie. Clifford was so bad, Short didn't land another starring role for a decade. "Clifford" was so bad, it was probably responsible for putting the Omni Cinema -- if not the entire Omni mall -- out of business.
"Clifford" was wretched enough for me to award it an all-too-rare rating of "no stars." But although I have never met anyone in the ensuing 14 years who has even heard of "Clifford," I now wish I had pulled an Ebert and informed readers that I had not stayed for the whole thing.
I didn't mention it at the time because, as a relatively young critic, I feared it would undercut my review. Since then, I have never walked out of a screening, mostly because Ive never encountered a film as tortuous as that one. But if it were to happen again, Id open my critique with the fact that I couldn't endure the film in question and had no choice but to bail -- or die.