"Hey, I thought I recognized the name. You're Scott Weinberg from Cinematical, right?"
"Yep!" (I shake the man's hand.)
"Hey, I'm John...."
And before he even got his last name out, I remembered his face. This was Jonathan Levine, director of the very cool horror film All the Boys Love Mandy Lane. Unfortunately for me (or so I thought), Mr. Levine is also the director of a highly-buzzed film called The Wackness ... which (as you probably know by now) I didn't dig all that much.
Now, this kind of thing happens relatively often when you spend a good deal of time on the festival circuit. Usually when I'm near a filmmaker whose film I've knocked, I just remain silent (very difficult for me) and pray that nothing too uncomfortable happens. But this was a different experience altogether. Not only was John NOT upset about my semi-trashing of his sophomore effort, but he actually applauded my stance and appreciated my ... integrity! (Yes, integrity! My grandmother would be so proud.)
John thanked me for all my support after Mandy Lane's Toronto debut, and told me he had no hard feelings about my negative review of The Wackness. I think that fact that, even while knocking the film, I plainly admitted that several other critics really dug the flick, is what John appreciated most. He also said that my review was completely fair, and that I backed up my complaints with perfectly legitimate explanations. That's a really big compliment to pay a film critic.
All things considered, it was a very admirable move from a guy who could have just noticed the name on my press badge and kept on walking! He could have figured "Meh, he didn't like my movie so screw him," but he did just the opposite and behaved in a fashion so surprisingly classy that I was just taken aback for a few seconds. So while my opinion of The Wackness remains the same, I just had to share this story -- simply to prove that some filmmakers can take criticism, some filmmakers actually respect a contrary opinion, and some filmmakers are able to remain grounded, mature and (again) very classy in the face of unflattering comments.
John's behavior made me wish I liked the movie a little bit more ... but then I wouldn't have this story to tell. So definitely do feel free to read my own opinions on The Wackness. But hey, also check out what Devin Faraci, Ed Douglas, Neil Miller, Josh Tyler, Peter Sciretta, and Alex Billington thought of the flick. (Like I've been saying all along, I'm in the minority -- but, needless to say, I still stand behind my review.)