C h a z z W r i t e s . c o m

Write and publish with love and fury.

The one critic who made me weep

We often don’t think deeply about the good that criticism can do. The kids are watching the charming movie,ย Ratatouille, over and over.ย For reasons of my change in occupation in the last year (i.e. writing full-time) I paid more attention to the review within the movie, a voice over by the character of the demanding critic, Anton Ego. It’s a fun movie, but this one bit about criticism? Hearing it afresh in new circumstances and caught by surprise, the speech moved me to tears. Not a lot of tears, but definitely misty.

“The new needs friends.” Oh, my, yes.

Here is Anton Ego on the good critics can do:

In many ways, the work of a critic is easy. We risk very little, yet enjoy a position over those who offer up their work and their selves to our judgment. We thrive on negative criticism, which is fun to write and to read. But the bitter truth we critics must face, is that in the grand scheme of things, the average piece of junk is probably more meaningful than our criticism designating it so. But there are times when a critic truly risks something, and that is in the discovery and defense of the *new*. The world is often unkind to new talent, new creations. The new needs friends. Last night, I experienced something new: an extraordinary meal from a singularly unexpected source. To say that both the meal and its maker have challenged my preconceptions about fine cooking is a gross understatement. They have rocked me to my core. In the past, I have made no secret of my disdain for Chef Gusteau’s famous motto, “Anyone can cook.” But I realize, only now do I truly understand what he meant. Not everyone can become a great artist; but a great artist *can* come from *anywhere*. It is difficult to imagine more humble origins than those of the genius now cooking at Gusteau’s, who is, in this critic’s opinion, nothing less than the finest chef in France. I will be returning to Gusteau’s soon, hungry for more.

See the movie again. It might get to you, too.

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Regret: In your life and on film

You have to (must, must, must!) see this film trailer.

Get out your hankies.

Here’s the background: My friend Christopher Richardson was a journalism student with me 25 years ago. (He’d say I was with him, but this is my blog so I set the dynamic and bugger the facts!)

Chris is the big-hearted genius behind the documentary Where’s My Goat? Now he’s working on a new film about regret called (wait for it) Regret. The hub of the film is the valedictorian speech he gave to our class in 1987. Things went awry. Having no respect for institutions myself, I loved his speech, but a lot of people hated it and went out of their way to make Chris feel bad about it. Twenty-five years later he still feels bad about it. And now he’s on a journey to our reunion that will take him to dark places that make you think seriously about the inevitable clash of our hopes versus our experience. You think you’ve got it rough trying to lose a little weight before you hit your 25-year reunion? This amps up the anxiety and depth times 1,000.

See the trailer at www.regretthefilm.com.

If you have regrets to share, contact Chris Richardson at

Ihavearegret@RegretTheFilm.ca.ย 

I think Chris is already working through his valedictorian regret because he’s making lemons into lemonade and sharing the sugar with the rest of us. We all need to reflect on our mistakes and learn from them. This film will help us all on that path.

If your skin doesn’t crawl, it’s on too tight. If you don’t have a tear in your eye, you have no heart. If you aren’t thinking about what you should have done when you watched that guy drown, your mother was right. You’re soulless.

And it wasn’t just “some guy”! It was your baby brother, you monster!

Filed under: links, Media, movies, , , , , , ,

Winner of Writer's Digest's 2014 Honorable Mention in Self-published Ebook Awards in Genre

The first 81 lessons to get your Buffy on

More lessons to help you survive Armageddon

"You will laugh your ass off!" ~ Maxwell Cynn, author of Cybergrrl

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Fast-paced terror, new threats, more twists.

An autistic boy versus our world in free fall

Suspense to melt your face and play with your brain.

Action like a Guy Ritchie film. Funny like Woody Allen when he was funny.

Jesus: Sexier and even more addicted to love.

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