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Art Movie: the big canvas for Thomas Kinkade's "The Christmas Cottage"

The success of “300” (which I liked) and “Ghost Rider” (which I haven’t seen) has some industry experts — Peter Bart of “Variety” and Patrick Goldstein of the “L.A. Times”  for example — questioning the validity of elitist film critics reviewing films that appeal to the masses, i.e.:  cutting edge pop culture afficiandoes. Shouldn’t they be reviewed by hip, elitist fanboys instead? Shouldn’t all films be reviewed by people who like them or who can reflect the promotional spin of the multi-million dollar studio marketing campaigns that sweep audiences in like sheep? Shouldn’t we just let the studios PR departments review their own films which they practically are doing already, film critics’ pathetic attempts to remain aloof and “critical” notwithstanding?

If so, then, I have no problem with this latest development in movie adaptations reported in “Variety.” Oh, eggheads squawked about the end of cinema when they started adapting comic books way back when Tim Burton made “Batman” in 1989, and that turned out okay. Film survived versions of video games and theme park rides and “Snakes on a Plane." Even the talk of late to turn out movies featuring figures from TV commercials (the Burger “King” and the Geico cave men, for example) might even rejuvenate the medium. So why not make a movie based on a really bad but extremely popular painting?

Say what you will about Thomas Kinkade, but in terms of profit his canvases have put Picasso (Kinkade claims to have made a billion dollars in sales of artwork alone) to shame. It was only a matter of time before the studios caught on to the phenomenon and figured out a way to exploit it. Thus, in time for the holidays, Lionsgate Pictures says we can look forward to a feature film adaptation of Kinkade’s painting “The Christmas Cottage.”

No doubt the film will cash in big, perhaps even hit the opening weekend $70 million of “300.” How should critics respond? Clearly it must be good if so many people think so. And if elitist critics pooh pooh the film as kitsch and a travesty of cinema just as art critics have denouced the paintings, who, according to Bart and Goldstein, would be best qualified to review such a movie? Or have we reached the point where art and aesthetics and quality are irrelevant?

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