Penetrating Aplomb: The Film Criticism of Frank Ochieng

Posted: August 14, 2011 in Movies
Tags: , , ,

Quick:  how many movie reviewers can you name in thirty seconds?

I’d guess that the average person could name two or three at most.  I’m pretty sure that most people in this country know who Roger Ebert is, and the oldsters among us might know Rex Reed’s name, and, if you’re a regular reader of a magazine or newspaper, you might know the name of that periodical’s resident movie reviewer (such as Owen Gleiberman of Entertainment Weekly or David Ansen of Newsweek).  Then there are those select few who remember the great critics of the past:  Pauline Kael, Bosley Crowther, and others of their ilk.

And that’s about it.  Generally speaking, becoming a film critic is NOT the easiest way to become rich and famous.  This fact, however, doesn’t stop those who love the art of cinema from dipping their toes into the reviewing pool.

The Internet has made being a movie reviewer a much easier task than it once was.  Instead of beating the bushes trying to find a free weekly paper for which to write movie reviews for little or no pay, now anyone can write movie reviews on the Internet for little or no pay.

All of this kinda sorta brings us to the topic at hand: Frank Ochieng.  I first stumbled upon the work of Frank Ochieng, self-described “avid observer of pop culture,” while reading movie reviews on RottenTomatoes.com.  I don’t actually remember the very first review of his that I read, but it was awful enough to get me to start seeking out his reviews.  Luckily (in a weird sort of way) for me, there are over 900 of them listed at Rotten Tomatoes.

What first struck me (and still strikes me–repeatedly, with a blunt object) is Frank’s love for alliteration.  Now, I’m not so much of a snob that I don’t think a little well-placed alliteration is okay, but Frank apparently doesn’t understand that just repeating initial consonant sounds without making a lick of sense can be, well, damaging to the integrity of a written work.  Frank also seems to believe that the more alliteration he can shove into a sentence, the better it becomes.  Take this excerpt from his review of Insidious, this year’s surprise sleeper:

Insidious proves that tranquil terror tales can be just as impactful as the full blown gross-out quotient of high-octane hack cinema if not more involving and intriguing based on its challenging and calming canvas of chaos.

I’m reminded of Albert Brooks’s line in Broadcast News:  “A lot of alliteration from anxious anchors placed in powerful posts! ”

The Insidious review quote above reminds me of the other thing that fascinates me about Frank’s reviews: they don’t make any sense.  Often due to the self-imposed alliteration mandate, Frank frequently contradicts himself within the space of a few words.  Just look at the quote above again–how can there be a “calming canvas of chaos”?  How is chaos in any way, shape, or form calming?  Answer:  it isn’t.  What’s worse is that, most of the time, Frank’s nonsense can’t be blamed on trying to shoehorn as much alliteration as possible into a review.  Here’s another quote from the same review (actually, it’s the sentence that directly precedes the one above):

Overall, the distraught circumstances that overwhelm the Lambert family are methodically dispersed with motivating anxiety.

Exactly WHAT is that supposed to mean?  Can circumstances even BE distraught?  Can you disperse circumstances with anxiety?  Reading Frank’s prose sometimes makes me think that I’ve been taking crazy pills.

This guy obviously has no clue as to how to review a movie, and therein lies his genius.  So, without further ado, I give you the idiotic insights and the warmongering words of Frank Ochieng, along with a few snarky comments of my own (my comments will be bolded).   (All of the following excerpts from Frank’s reviews are taken from Rotten Tomatoes and Yahoo’s Associated Content, and remain the [questionably] intellectual property of Frank Ochieng.)

——————–

From his review of Battle for Terra:

“Although well-meaning, Battle for Terra is too tame to capture the active imagination of adventurous tots as a mediocre-driven meteorite looking to impact young minds with its slow-footed pacing and puffy-minded pathos.”

“Still, Battle for Terra is generically conceived and makes about as much impact as tinted windows on a stoned hippie-operated spacecraft.”

“Surprisingly, the animation is rather simplistic but does have a unique look to it from a vintage point of view.”

“The Terrean creatures physically resemble flying tadpoles but are harmless nevertheless.”

From his review of X-Men Origins: Wolverine:

“Unless you are quite familiarized with Wolverine’s posse of hangers-on one would be scratching their head trying to distinguish the numerous supporting players within the scope of the film’s grainy realm.”  NOTE:  This one stood out due to its playing fast and loose with the rules of pronouns, their antecedents, and their number.  I’m also appalled at Frank’s use of “familiarized” instead of “familiar.”  Rock on, Frank!

From his review of Dragonball: Evolution:

“While remotely imaginative Dragonball erroneously forgets to do the essential things that basically make up the fundamentals of a basic half-decent piece of movie entertainment.”  NOTE:  I am officially in awe of the (Ed) Woodsian repetition of the word “basic.”

“In 2001’s dank and dismissive The One he pretty much exemplified his kind of jittery junk cinema that may be a staple of his chronically cliched-ridden frenetic fest.”

 

From his review of Observe and Report:

“Whatever the sentiment is about Hill’s sense of irreverence in Observe–pro or con–one thing is certainly clear…smarmy cinema can be skillful if it can articulate its boldness with revolving forethought of tension-filled tenacity and a robust goose egg of goofiness.”  NOTE:  One thing is certainly NOT clear—the meaning of this sentence.

 

From his review of The Love Guru:

“The supporting cast flickers off-and-on like an indecisive candle that refuses to extinguish its stubborn flame.”  NOTE:  Frank adds the use of similes to his deadly arsenal!

From his review of The Martian Child:

“Unfortunately for Martian Child this cutesy but cornball cross between E.T. and A.I.: Artificial Intelligence has more maple sap pouring out of it than a neglected Vermont tree looking for a good tapping.”

From his review of 30 Days of Night:

“Bleak, bombastic and belligerent, Slade’s blood-busting bohemians will indeed take a caustic chunk out of your imaginative horrifying souls.”

From his review of The Comebacks:

“Let’s face it, folks…we need another repetitive spoof movie like a piglet needs dirty fingernails.”

From his review of We Own the Night:

“Gray serves up a sluggishly regurgitation of the noteworthy 70’s-style cop dramas that ruled the airwaves with penetrating aplomb.”  NOTE:  Not only does Frank coin the phrase “penetrating aplomb” in this quote, but he also shows his inimitable style by modifying a noun with an adverb.  We have much to learn from Frank.

The entire first paragraph from his review of The Reaping:

“Two-time Academy Award winner Hilary Swank didn’t receive her golden statuettes by not being pensive. After all, Swank is an adventurous actress and often is consumed by the various interesting roles she effortlessly plays. It’s admirable that Swank looks to delve into different types of projects because she’s a capable performer that has the ability and luxury to do so. Granted she has had her share of hits and misses. Unfortunately, her latest stint in director Stephen Hopkins’s bloated biblical supernatural thriller The Reaping is an inexplicable misstep for the normally revered Swank.”  NOTE:  Where do I begin on this one?  I didn’t realize that pensiveness is what won Hil her Oscars.  Nor did I fully understand that her roles often eat her.  Lastly, with her share of hits and misses, I can’t explain this misstep, either.  Especially since she’s HAD HER SHARE OF MISSES. 

 

Lastly, most of his review for Ghost Rider, with the most idiotic comments bolded:

“Over the years the emerging genre of big-budgeted comic book adaptations has had its share of mixed reaction. Specifically, the Marvel Comics superhero flicks are received with ambivalent forethought. For every successful or critically acclaimed Stan Lee staple ranging from the immensely popular Spider Man movie series we have to endure the duds such as Daredevil and The Fantastic Four. In writer-director Mark Steven Johnson’s flaccidly erratic action-adventure Ghost Rider the fragile reputation of another Marvel Comics creation hits the skids. In short the rollicking exploits of Johnny Blaze/Ghost Rider’s transformation from the animated printed pages to the big screen has all the effective staying power of a busted spark plug.

Johnson, who also helmed the aforementioned lackluster Daredevil, merely creates a generically pseudo-sensationalized B-movie confection that dazzles in its cheesy visual makeup without skillfully capturing the mystique or imagination of Lee’s flaming-faced anti-hero. Unfortunately, Ghost Rider tries to be too flippant for its own good. The ill-advised cheeky interpretation by Nicholas Cage (remember folks he was almost the Man of Steel a few years ago) and the movie’s knee-jerk response to the forced and unfounded humor sputters along more convincingly than a defective kickstand dragging on a rocky country road.

There’s never any genuine urgency of Ghost Rider being an eye-popping spectacle where you would expect the reliable larger-than-life antics of chameleon Cage to inhabit the barbecue-skull biker with creative panache. Instead, this spiritless supernatural sideshow wallows in utter ridicule and never is really focused on the target it wants to be at hand. Is this supposed to be a campy showcase of redemption? Does Johnson want Ghost Rider to strictly register as an off-kilter escapist flick that dares to take the liberty in embellishing on the gonzo-style gumption of Marvel’s motorcycling menace? Johnson wants to parlay Cage’s non-conformist rover as an impish outsider full of chaotic consciousness. However, the misguided rag tag ramblings of Ghost Rider will simply wipe away from one’s memory bank faster than a chintzy ink-stained tattoo on a sweaty forearm.

Ghost Rider, thankfully, has his trusty backup. Supporters such as Caretaker (Sam Elliott) Blaze’s respected older buddy from the circuit conveniently enter the equation. Also, comical companion Mack (Donal Logue from TV’s “The Knights of Prosperity”) is there to accompany Blaze whenever the proverbial butter hits the pan. Will Johnny Blaze be able to handle the pressure of dealing with his duel identities and try to maintain the fury that burns inside and outside (much like fellow Marvel Comic cohort Bruce Banner/The Incredible Hulk?) Can Blaze/Ghost Rider save the world from the maddening momentum of Blackheart and his brutish band of misfits?

Clearly, Ghost Rider is a meandering mess and its inert quirkiness doesn’t help out at all. Johnson randomly sprays the movie with dimwitted dialogue meant to be hip and haughty but only comes off looking rather lame in conception. In fact, the running gag where a fire-burning fiend such as Ghost Rider embracing the soft and sugary music of The Carpenters is supposed to be a winking moment at the burning biker’s masculinity and/or sensitivity. Silly-minded bits and other hit-and-miss hilarity render this vehicle a hollow hoot-in-a-half. The characterizations are flimsy and flat and couldn’t even hold a candle to the scene-chewing, tacky guest-star villains on the old 60’s Batman TV series. The whole overwrought production feels as if it was cobbled together with shades of dippy drama interspersed with a phony injection of outlandish vibes.

Sadly, Ghost Rider wasn’t really a heralded Marvel Comic concoction to begin with as he takes a reluctant backseat as C-list consideration to the other highly desired personalities in Stan Lee’s crime-fighting community. Sure, Johnny Blaze/Ghost Rider has his fair share of a cult following. Nevertheless, one wonders if the diehard sci-fi/comic book crowd would have second thoughts in embracing a flammable fighter-for-justice seeker that ironically gives off inconsequential smoke signals in a fractured fantasy that outwits itself in almost every inconceivable way.

——————–

You’ve just read excerpts from eleven of Frank’s reviews.  To read another 918 excerpts, go to http://www.rottentomatoes.com/critic/frank-ochieng/.

To read Frank’s latest full-length reviews, check out this page:

http://contributor.yahoo.com/user/490783/frank_ochieng.html

Comments
  1. Bob Arnett says:

    Rob, Thanks for shining a light on this wonderful wordsmith! HIs chaotic criticisms are made even more marvelous by his leveraged lack of lucidity and his basically basic thematically thin thinking. Here’s hoping Frank turns his eye to perfecting art of the mixed metaphor. Keep us posted, Rob! Good work.

    • Tam says:

      I’m a fan of film critic Frank Ochieng and I think his movie reviews are clever, entertaining and very enjoyable to read. I know for a fact that he has been utilized by many college professors as they used his work in their lesson plans to teach jouralism students. He has been featured in several books and worked for a Boston paper, the Boston Banner to be specific. If you don’t like his type of writing that is ok but to say this man can’t write seems somewhat comical being his work is featured in more places than I can list on this board. He has been a member of the Online Film Critics Society for years and that should speak for itself. Come on be serious you really believe he is the worst film critic in the world? I think you have exaggerated just a tad to get attention on a message board.

      • Rob Brown says:

        Tam,

        First, thanks for reading the blog, and thanks for posting your views on Frank’s writing. Let me address your points starting with the last one first, if I may.

        You ask if I really believe that Frank Ochieng is the worst film critic in the world, and then say that maybe I exaggerated a little “to get attention on a message board.” Okay, first…although I can’t say with certainty that Frank is the worst film critic in the world, as I don’t read any other languages except French, I CAN adamantly state that he is, by FAR, the worst “professional” film critic that I’ve ever read. About the message board…uh, this is a blog. My personal blog. No message boards have been involved.

        Now, to address some of your other assertions. If you find Frank’s reviews to be “clever, entertaining, and very enjoyable to read,” that’s GREAT. Everyone needs at least one other person to validate his or her work. I find his reviews to be entertaining, although probably not entertaining in the way that he hopes people will find his work.

        Please, please give me the names of the college professors who have used Frank’s work to teach journalism. I need to impart some information to their tenure committees. Seriously, I can only guess that they’re using his work as examples of “here’s what you DON’T want to do in a movie review.” So, honestly, if you could send me names, I’d love to talk to them and see what THEY see that’s so brilliant…because I don’t see it.

        Now, as to your other assertions, namely that he’s been featured in several books, he’s written for the Boston Banner, and he’s a member of the Online Film Critics’ Society…

        Let’s do the book thing first. As far as I can tell, Frank hasn’t actually been featured IN several books; it appears that he’s been featured ON several books, specifically on their covers in the form of blurbs. Anyone can write a blurb for a book jacket or DVD case (as I see that Frank has also done)–in fact, several years ago, there was a movie reviewer named Frank Manning whose blurbs ended up in several ads and T.V. spots for films. It turns out that Mr. Manning was a fabrication of Sony’s advertising department. So, literally, non-existent people can write blurbs and get them seen. What I DO like about Frank is that he HAS gotten things published so that he CAN attach a publication behind his name. Now, there is the matter of Frank being in a book called Spike Lee Film:14 which was published in Germany. Not having access to this book, I’ll have to reserve judgement on it. So, I’ll give him that one.

        If, by the Boston Banner, you mean the Bay State Banner, it’s a free newspaper with a relatively small circulation. Free newspapers are notorious for taking just about any written pieces that they can get for no or low cost. Still, Frank has gotten his name in print, so I have to give him kudos for that.

        As for the Online Film Critics’ Society, that’s truly a feather in Frank’s cap. There are some excellent writers in that group.

        Tam, I have to admit that, at first, I thought that maybe you WERE Frank hiding behind a pseudonym, but the lack of alliteration in your post dissuaded me of that idea. So, I’m glad that you like Frank’s work, and I hope that he keeps writing for years and years to come, if only to keep you happy and me entertained. For, you see, I don’t know Frank, and I only wish him the best. I’m sure that he’d be a great guy to hang out with, and it would probably be fun TALKING movies with him, as alliteration doesn’t crop up in conversation very often. But I have to stand by my comments that he is THE WORST professional writer that I’ve ever come across. I guess that my dirty little secret is that I secretly hope that he never gets better, so that he will continue to make me scratch my head in perplexity for many more years. I mean, here’s a quote from his review of some movie called STAKE LAND: “Mickle (“Mulberry Street”) sinks his frothy fangs into a surprisingly solid and probing blood bath exposition dripping with gothic gore and a sensationalistic showcase of cynicism and introspection.” Man. Just…man. There’s just nothing like sensationalistic introspection.

        Thanks for writing.

  2. Rob Brown says:

    Bob,

    It’s uncanny how you’ve captured the spirit of Frank in your brief, bellicosely belligerent but cogent comments. I’m proud to have been able to shine a shining light on his accumulating accomplishments.

  3. Zwolf says:

    Oh, that’s beautiful stuff! Like, national-treasure badness. All the alliteration in his illiteration makes me wonder if he may not have just the least lil’ smidge of schizophrenia going on there, because schizos love to “clang” words. In my younger years of yore I used to get in flame wars with this dude who fancied himself a “poet.” He’d write these awful epic poems about how he was being “vilified,” and he alliterated like crazy. And he was hyper-obsessive and made very little sense. Eventually it was revealed that he was a street person who used library computers to post his stuff, and he said he hadn’t bathed in a year and wouldn’t go to shelters because he was afraid they might make him take his meds. And he still made a little more sense than Frank, here. What we should probably do is not approach these as reviews of films that actually exist, but as descriptions of the film Frank is seeing through his perplexed perceptions of Perphenazine purgatory.

    Then again, maybe muhfugga just can’t write… 🙂

  4. Rob Brown says:

    Zwolf, I have to admit that I’m secretly hoping (well, I guess that now it’s NOT a secret) that Frank will somehow stumble across this post, perhaps while in the act of Googling himself, and comment on it. It could happen….

  5. Tam says:

    Just for the record I love alliteration and it brings about a different style that I find more unique when reading Frank Ochieng’s reviews. I think it adds personality, depth and a playfulness to the writing that could otherwise appear similar to other conventional film critics. I realize to some that the use of alliteration might appear gimmicky but there are others like myself that find it a refreshing tool as a way to express oneself distinctively. What writer out there doesn’t employ some sort of gimmick in their writing that makes their reviews uniquely their own?

    As far as I’m concerned I think he shows passion in his writing and you can’t take away the fact that you feel like you are right there beside him in the theater as he watches the movies he writes about. You don’t have to like his writing but there are many like myserlf that enjoy reading his reviews and look forward to the next installment which hopfully will be soon.

    • Rob Brown says:

      Tam,

      You are indeed correct when you say that Frank’s use of alliteration adds personality and playfulness. I can’t go with depth, though. Just not happening. And you’re right when you say that Frank’s writing isn’t similar to that of conventional film critics. In fact, the thing that makes it so striking is that it isn’t similar to the work of any other writer EVER. So we do have that to celebrate. Indeed, Frank’s reviews are instantly recognizable as having been written by Frank and ONLY Frank.

      I do NOT, however, feel that I’m sitting next to Frank in the theater when I read his reviews. I feel more like I’m sitting next to him after he’s mixed his meds and too much alcohol. Enthusiastic? Check. Coherent? Not by a long shot.

      I think that I’ve changed my mind about you, Tam. In your earlier comment I wrote that I had at first thought that maybe you were Frank, but I had changed my mind.

      Well, I’m changing my mind back again.

      It’s great to meet you, Frank! Keep up the idiosyncratic work!

      And thanks for taking the time to write.

  6. tamm52 says:

    Well I hate to burst your bubble but I am NOT Frank. I am a retired RN from the state of Ohio and a female to boot so in no way do I resemble Frank Ochieng. 🙂 I hadn’t seen a review by Frank for several months so I googled his name to see if he was posting on a site I was unfamiliar with and this blog came up in my search. I am not accustomed to blogging so I assumed this thread was attached in some form to a message board and I apologize for making that assumption.

    As for the college professors I can’t give you their names but if you google his name you will find them. One of the professors I’m certain was from Wright State in Ohio but I can’t remember the other colleges. I do know for a fact that there were several professors using his reviews as a teaching tool and not in a negative manner as you suggested.

    As you stated he does have his own unique style of writing and there are a lot of fans that enjoy that style. Obviously you are not one of his fans but I don’t understand why you have gone to such extremes to degrade a man you don’t even know. I feel if you have such an issue with his work that you should have contacted him personally as his email is all over the place. It seems a little out of the ordinary for someone to go to all this trouble to attack a person and not even let him defend himself.

    I appreciate your acknowledging some of his accomplishments and even if you didn’t feel they were impressive you at least gave him some credit for them. As I said I was directed here as I googled his name to search for recent reviews and I felt the need to defend a movie critic that I enjoy reading. I appreciate the fact you have been very civil to me and I hope you feel I have been the same to you. I guess in a strange way Frank should be flattered that he was well known enough to have someone give so much attention to his writing even if it is in a negative manner. I’m sorry you don’t find his film reviews as entertaining as I do and in that way we will have to politely agree to disagree.

    I know you were kidding when you spoke of him having too much alcohol or drugs but as rare as it is Frank doesn’t partake in either vices. As you stated previously and I am certain to be true you would indeed enjoy sitting down and talking movies with him as he is extremely knowledgeable in his field.

    • Rob Brown says:

      Well, Tam, I have to admit that I’m a little bummed that you’re not Frank.

      I feel that I must reiterate that I have nothing personal against Frank. I’m able to separate the man from his work. I loathe Rob Zombie’s work as a director, but I think he’s an okay guy as a person. However, I find his films to be so unappealing on all levels that I wouldn’t waste the time and space on my blog just to tear him down. Conversely, I enjoy Frank’s writing enough to want to share its unique qualities with the world. Just because I don’t think that it’s any good doesn’t mean that I don’t enjoy it. But I do feel that you and I enjoy it for entirely different reasons.

      Tell me, Tam, do you HONESTLY get a lot from Frank’s reviews? Do they help you understand a film better? Even more to the point, do you UNDERSTAND Frank’s reviews? Most of the time, I don’t. Some of his sentences don’t make ANY sense to me. And I don’t really think that’s MY fault, as I have a pretty strong background in composition, literature, and film. You’ve told me why you like his style, but if you really, really wanted to know whether or not a film was worth your time, would you turn to Frank’s review before anybody else’s? Is he truly fulfilling the role of a film reviewer, or is he merely stringing together words for the sound effects they make, with the content of his reviews secondary to the cacophony that his alliteration causes?

      To be brutally honest, if I were still teaching Freshman Composition and Frank was a student of mine and turned in almost any one of his reviews, I’d have to hand it back and tell him to clean it up–he’s obscuring his point with needless surface noise. I find Frank’s style to be 90% artifice and 10% substance, which is about 180 degrees from the ratio that it should be. BUT–he wouldn’t be nearly as entertaining if he tried to fix it.

      You thanked me for being civil; well, thank you for also remaining civil. There’s no need for anyone to get bent out shape over this…it’s just differing opinions.

      As always, thanks for writing.

  7. tamm52 says:

    I can honestly say that I indeed read Frank’s film reviews prior to going to the movie theater. I respect the fact you stated you don’t feel like you are sitting in the theater with Frank but I repeat that in contrast I do feel that way. I hate to read a review that is simplistic, tedious or contains so many spoilers that it takes away from the movie experience. Frank gives enough information in his synopsis of the films that a reader understands the story line but it doesn’t expose the total package. I find myself getting so involved in his in depth film reviews that I can’t wait to buy a ticket to see the film and discover the hidden questions he has teasingly left lingering.

    When I read a film review I don’t check for spelling or grammatical errors but for information about the movie. I respect the fact that you have a vast knowledge of the English language but to be honest you and I are looking at this in two different perspectives. I politely disagree with your comments that his style is 90% artifice and 10% substance. Frank’s words are not deceitful filler as they bring life and significance to his film reviews. He uses the English language to bring visual images to the brain in a way you can actually see what he is viewing. I can’t understand why you don’t see what I see but then again I may be looking deeper into his words than you are. I’m active in community theater and when I direct a play I look for character development, the period setting, the music, the script and not just if I like the play or not. That’s what I like about Franks film reviews is that they give me so much more perspective than the average film critic. His words produce an image in my brain of what he is visualizing. I can relate to the characters, see the setting and I can feel the storyline develop and either advance or crash and burn. So when you speak of his reviews containing only 10% substance I repeat I disagree with your assessment.

    As for alliteration I understand that not everyone will find that as humorous as I do and I that is just an extra treat I appreciate while others might not always agree with me.

    One last thing as I am somewhat curious to why you didn’t reach out to Frank personally. I stated previously that his email is all over the internet and it seems rather futile to make such a statement and post such an elaborate discussion and not even involve the person you are talking about. I innocently came across your blog while searching for movie reviews but that doesn’t take away the fact that someone should be able to defend themselves be it their profession or their character. I appreciate the fact you have not demeaned his character as he is a wonderful man but you have made it very clear you think he is the worst professional film critic that you have ever read. That I find hard to believe as I have read some pretty pathetic movie reviews by professional writers and Franks does not fall into that category in my opinion. The fact you were slightly disappointed I wasn’t Frank brings up the question once again why you didn’t reach out and involve him in this discussion. I believe the best way to understand a persons intentions or the purpose behind any writer’s unique style is to ask him about it yourself?

    I hope my explanations helped you understand my appreciation for Frank Ochieng’s film reviews and thanks for letting me express my opinions openly and without any backlash. I always enjoy a nice peaceful discussion.

  8. Tam52 says:

    It has been a couple of years since I last communicated with you about your criticism of film critic Frank Ochieng’s reviewing style and methods. Well, I still maintain my enjoyment of Frank’s critiques then and his continued reviewing rituals now. I just wanted you to have some documentation of how much others regard Frank’s written work and what he brings to the table.

    Maybe some of these sources I present to you won’t change your perception of Frank as an incapable and laughable movie reviewer whom you harshly dismissed as the worst you ever read previously. Anyway, let me take the opportunity to share with you some evidence of Frank’s relevance in the field of online field criticism. He may not be your cup of tea per se but there are others out there that appreciate his critical insights, analysis and observations about film in general.

    Here is some food for thought on Frank’s competence as a movie reviewer:

    THEY SHOOT PICTURES DON’T THEY? (TSPDT)
    TIDBIT: Frank was listed as one of the selections for that site’s “1,000 Greatest Films (Sources/Critics). And yes…he’s listed along with notables such as the late and great Siskel & Ebert and Leonard Maltin to name a few that you cherish highly.
    .
    LINK: http://www.theyshootpictures.com/gf1000_all1000films_sources.htm

    Wright State University/English Dept. (2005)
    Frank is listed as a prominent source for the students’ Honors Section with other notables

    LINK: http://www.wright.edu/~martin.kich/filmreviews.htm

    Sarah Lawrence College/article: “The Writing Life, In Pictures”
    Frank is referenced in the college’s newspaper article regarding the film STARTING OUT IN THE EVENING. He is mentioned along with better known critics A.O. Scott and Roger Ebert within this very same column by author Lisa W. Romano

    LINK: http://www.slc.edu/magazine/money/faculty/index.html

    Charlotte Sometimes movie website
    Frank has his movie quote featured for this film’s press release along with such “movie reviewing royalty” as The Chicago Sun Times’ Roger Ebert, LA Times’ Kevin Thomas, and Jeffrey M. Anderson from The San Francisco Examiner

    LINK :http://www.charlottesometimesthemovie.com/home.html

    Again, my point is such that you unfairly maligned and dismissed Frank Ochieng as a film reviewing hack when in fact he does have credibility and achievements that you have unfairly overlooked. Yes, you are still entitled to your belief that he doesn’t fit your bill critically in the way he assesses movies but the proof I submitted above is definitely to the contrary.

    Thanks again for allowing me to add my two cents worth on this subject matter.

    Tam

  9. Rob Brown says:

    Tam,

    Good to hear from you! It HAS been a while, hasn’t it?

    I appreciate the fact that you’re still hanging in there, trying to persuade me to like Frank’s reviews. I’d love to say that I’ve read some recent ones, but I haven’t. Let me rectify that real quick–just give me a few minutes….

    Okay, I’m back. I’ve just checked out Frank’s website, MovieFrank.com, which has a link to some of his latest reviews on the Yahoo Contributor Network, that fine bastion of professionally-vetted journalism. And you know, you’re right: I’ve misjudged Frank all along. His newer reviews have a freshness, a focus of purpose that I don’t know how I missed before. For instance, his insightful… the insight … my sight ….

    I’m sorry, I can’t do this to you, Tam. Frank’s reviewing hasn’t changed an iota. For this, I am thankful. I now have about 19 months of his reviews to read and wonder at. Tam, I appreciate your efforts to show me what you see in Frank’s writing, but they’re misguided. Just as there’s no way that you could ever get me to voluntarily drink a quart of motor oil, or get a Justin Bieber tattoo on my forehead, or watch Rob Zombie’s Halloween again, I’m just not ever going to appreciate Frank Ochieng’s reviews in the same way that you do. And, you know, that’s the way it should be–to each his or her own.

    I also appreciate that you took the time to provide the links that you did to more mentions of Frank, although you seem to be mixing up critical competence (your word) with visibility. Yes, two quotes from Frank’s reviews have been used to help sell some movies to the public. Do you think that the filmmakers used those lines to help promote Frank? I don’t think so–I think that they used them because Frank gave the films positive reviews. How many films have used lines from Rex Reed’s reviews in their advertising? I’m sure it’s an enormous amount, but that doesn’t mean that Rex Reed is any good; it just means that he wrote some positive comments about a film that someone thought would help sell the film to the public. (And yes, I dislike Rex Reed’s film criticism, because, in my eyes, he just doesn’t “get” a lot of films. At least Frank usually seems to be able to tell a good film from a bad one…unlike RR. But I digress.)

    The first link that you posted, the one to the “1,000 Greatest Films” list from TSPDT, does indeed list Frank as one of the sources for their list. This is a pretty cool accomplishment, putting him in the company of almost 3,200 OTHER people who ALSO published lists of movies that they think are the best. Does this necessarily mean that Frank is one of the 3,000 or so best movie critics in the world? Not necessarily–it just means that he had a list of the best films up at Rotten Tomatoes and the gang from TSPDT saw it and added it to their ever-growing list of lists and to their immense data pool, just as one raindrop adds a little more water to a birdbath.

    I would take your second link a little more seriously if it hadn’t come from a group of freshman honors students who had an assignment due that involved linking to movie review websites. Still, Frank’s name is there, in a big font. So I guess that makes him important.

    Tam, I’m not trying to disparage your love of Frank’s work. Keep loving it and keep supporting him. Just realize that, unless Frank’s writing takes a SHARP uptick in quality, I’m never going to find him to be a competent critic. I mean, c’mon, Tam. Compare these two excerpts from reviews of the new Evil Dead remake:

    Matthew Turner’s review (ViewLondon): “On top of that, the film opts for high intensity gore over actual scares, so it never really gets under your skin. That said, though the film gets a little repetitive in the middle section, it does at least rally for an enjoyably all-out, blood-soaked final act.”

    Frank’s review: “With the raucous reputation for nightmarish nuances that were a proud and perverse staple that gleefully unsettled the stomachs of macabre-loving moviegoers in Raimi’s early eighties cult classic, it is a given that filmmaker Alvarez meet expectations to ensure the same kind of boisterous bloodbath suitable for hungry-minded horror enthusiasts in this current day and age of frenetic fight vehicles.”

    You tell me, Tam–which sentence is more readable? Which one gets to the point and leaves no doubt as to what its author is attempting to convey? Which one could you accurately restate in 12 words or less? While you’re a fan of Frank’s gimmicky prose, I’m not, and I never will be.

    Thanks for writing in and trying again, though, and thanks for prompting me to check out Frank’s latest work. I’ve got several hours of entertaining reading ahead.

    Before I close my reply, I’d like to throw this open to anyone who stumbles across these posts–do you think that Frank Ochieng is a competent film critic? Let Tam and me know!

    Rob

  10. […] surely remember my post about Frank Ochieng, don’t you?  If you don’t, you can click here and catch […]

  11. Patsy P says:

    Hello Rob,

    I would like to join in the lively discussion if I may about online film critic Frank Ochieng if I may. I am stuck between what you and “Frank” supporter Tam feel on this subject matter. You both make great cogent points but I lean towards Tam in terms of my appreciation for Frank’s reviewing skills. I guess he is an acquired taste I suppose. Plus, I am rather bias as I remember Frank’s written work from the local paper here in Boston a few years ago. What you call “gimmicky prose” is actually quite imaginative to me. Frank sees film in an unconventional way. Plus, my own college professor knows Frank as a noted personality and we have studied film appreciation and movie critiquing based upon his written work. If my college instructor swears by Frank’s credentials as a notable movie reviewer whose movie reviews we have studied in class then I am sorry…Frank to me is the “reel” deal. LOL Do you realize that this guy has been in the Online Film Critics Society for years? And his past ROTTEN TOMATOES movie quotes are a scream. No, he is not a household name and nobody will mistake him for the late Roger Ebert anytime soon. But then again who can live up to the legend of Ebert? So Frank is competent in my opinion and I do trust his insights on cinema even if you do find him erratic and long-winded. Thank you Rob for allowing me to express myself on this pop culture matter. Regards, Patsy P.

    • Rob Brown says:

      Patsy,

      Welcome to the midst of the fray! Thanks for weighing in with your thoughts about Frank’s work. To be honest, I agree with Frank’s overall assessment of films most of the time, but I find it practically impossible to clear away all the detritus in his writing to be able to get at what he’s actually trying to convey.

      In writing, most Americans have been taught, from grade school through on-the-job training, to be as clear and concise as possible and to choose words wisely to make sure that they convey the meaning that they’re intended to convey. Frank, it seems, was absent on the days where effective adjective use was taught. He even misuses nouns much of the time. Here’s a sentence from the blurb from Frank on the Charlotte Sometimes website that Tam linked to in a comment above: “Charlotte Sometimes radiates with invigorating absorption.” Now, I have to ask…just what does that MEAN? How can something radiate WITH ABSORPTION? I suppose that a sponge, which is usually used to absorb things, could possibly give off an absorption vibe, but does it radiate it? What can a movie absorb? To me, it’s like someone gave Frank a desk set of reference books including a thesaurus, and he avails himself of them every chance that he gets. It doesn’t seem to matter to him whether or not what he’s writing makes sense, or that he’s using the correct word for the meaning he wants to convey.

      Perhaps because I have a graduate degree in English, or perhaps because I’ve been an English teacher for a good portion of my adult life, or perhaps because I just love language, I get terribly put-out by those who mangle language. Frank is a language-mangler.

      Patsy, I appreciate your taking the time to share your thoughts concerning Frank’s reviewing style. I think that my thoughts on the matter have been pretty much exhausted by now. I really do enjoy hearing what people think about Frank’s work. Like I’ve said before, I don’t know Frank and he might be the greatest guy in the world. This is in no way personal. I just think that his style of writing is juvenile and inept.

      Oh, one more thing, Patsy…could you let me know the name of your professor who sees Frank as a notable reviewer? I’d like to email him and find out what HE thinks makes Frank so great.

      Anybody else want to give your thoughts on Frank’s work? Let me hear from you.

      Rob

      • Patsy P says:

        Hi Rob,

        I would like to follow up my comments about your assessment of Frank’s so-called incompetence AND address your response to my earlier correspondence as well. I do admit to having a hidden agenda in my appreciation for Frank’s critiquing style and overall writing abilities (for you…his writing inabilities) and I must confess that like Tam I am an ardent fan of Frank Ochieng and swear by his cinematic judgments regardless of how you tear apart his credibility as a movie reviewer. Truth be told that I had met Frank a handful years ago at Massasoit Community College in Brockton, MA where he was invited to speak to our film journalism class by our professor to lend his insights on film criticism. My college instructor was a true fan of Frank’s and had fed our class a steady dose of his film reviews for us to study for technique and insight of a writer willing to be unconventional. He’s articulate, charming and knows his pop culture (he is well versed in television trivia as well…did you know that about him?) Frank won me over with his film reviews in the Boston Banner newspaper back in 2005. Being a semi-regular WBZ radio panelist/media commentator in Boston further demonstrates his versatility as a skilled film critic willing to bring something to the table besides applying his pen to the paper.

        I will also go on to say that my teenage cousin in Minnesota once wrote Frank to get his advice about pursuing a career in becoming a film critic and/or media commentator. Frank graciously took the time to respond to her and my cousin got a chance to meet him as the snappy and witty guy whose ROTTEN TOMATOES exposure and MovieEye.com presence entertained her growing up. I had a friend at Wright State University in Ohio who did a term paper based on Frank’s take on films. And in one of the Tam’s links where Frank is used to be quoted for an article on scholarly intelligence in film for STARTING IN THE EVENING I am not a bit surprised that he was referenced at all alongside well-known scribers such as A.O Scott and the late Roger Ebert. If Frank is such a joke then why is he selected to grace DVD covers, contacted by high schoolers and college students, his written material used for college courses by educators that trust his talent and knack for churning out movie reviews for many years?

        Rob, no one should questions your impeccable credentials as a fellow academic because I respect individuals such as yourself who shape the minds of people willing to learn the art of writing. Will Frank win a Pulitzer Prize anytime soon? Probably not. Are you entitled to feel inadequate about his flawed writing according your professional opinion? Of course you are and what you point out is probably valid for the most part. But please give this guy his due as he is not a newcomer to the world of film criticism. I guess I consider Frank a mentor in a sense and hope to accomplish half of what he has done in his career of watching films professionally. I can easily gather up a handful of college professors and students that would agree with Tam and I about Frank’s online impact to writing and talking movies. Plus, I could introduce you to links that actually cite Frank’s film criticism as a viable source of criticism. So allow your blog to expose Frank’s vulnerabilities as evidenced by you. Still, it doesn’t change my appreciation, Tam’s appreciation or the other folks that do swear by this movie reviewer’s capabilities. Whether he is a “language-botcher” or not he is out there contributing to the world of film criticism that has had a positive impact on people willing to engage in his colorful, erratic opinions.

        Frank Ochieng, I am sure, is taken seriously given his inclusion in notable sources such as The Online Critics Society, WBZ Radio in Boston, newspaper experience with the aforementioned Boston Banner, Rotten Tomatoes exposure and the handful of colleges that have benefited from his venture in film criticism. It is your perception to deem Frank a hack and I am sure you can produce many that could verify your position as a professional writer. But if you are going to be pernicious and embarrass Frank then be fair and share the wealth and conveniently use other misguided film critics to share in the wealth of criticizing this guy because you want to make a mockery of his film critiquing gimmickry. I am not sold either Rob and maintain that this guy is resourceful as I trust my box office bucks on every clever alliterative phrase he utters! Thanks again for hearing me out and allowing me to express my supportive thoughts in your forum.

        Regards,

        Patsy P.

      • Rob Brown says:

        Patsy,

        I love hearing what you and others are saying about Frank. Everyone should have supporters. I’m just incredulous that his writing has such a fervent following. I certainly don’t begrudge you your love of his writing.

        I can tell that my concrete examples of Frank’s misuse of the rules of our language are not going to sway you, any more than your links to cover blurbs featuring his remarks are going to sway me. I think that all we can do is each present our side of the argument and leave it at that.

        As always, thanks for adding to the discussion.

        Rob

  12. […] Frank!  Patsy P. has written in to give her thoughts on Frank’s reviewing prowess.  You can read her comment here, and below it is my comment to her comment.  If you’re just now coming to the party, click […]

  13. Eric says:

    Greetings…

    I stumbled upon this blog regarding the subject matter of online film critic Frank Ochieng. I thought it was quite interesting that somebody would take their time and devote a blog entry to nitpicking some guy’s movie criticisms. Well, I am familiar with Frank’s film reviews and have been for years. And I agree with the ladies Rob…I find Frank quite fascinating and unorthodox in the way he delivers his movie write-ups. I “get” him even if you and your supporters do not.

    I realize your status as an academic/intellectual in the department of writing as an accomplished individual that holds an advantaged degree in English. Goody for you! Still, I don’t get the main spotlight on Frank? You charge him with ruining the English language and that’s fine as you are entitled to your observations but why not select a handful of other so-called incapable movie reviewers and subject them to your microscope of grammatical correctness? Say what you will about Frank but he is very revered. Yeah, I am a fellow Bostonian (I live on Cape Cod) so I do know about Mr. Ochieng and his film critiquing tendencies. I happen to enjoy him…plain and simple.

    If I may, I am going to take a page out of Patsy’s book and offer a few links that consider Frank as a formidable film critic and do not have a problem with his competence in analyzing film. These venues did not have to choose Frank as their go-to source as there are better known movie critics that could have been cited. Sorry Patsy–I am going to copy you to offer my Frank-related accomplishments in movie writing:

    1. Frank is quoted in an article for an essay examples directory that takes a passage from his THE PIANO review (he is mentioned in the 5th paragraph):

    http://www.mankennet.com/movie-book-review-essay-example-the-pianist-roman-polanski/

    2. Frank briefly mentioned in a Wikipedia article for the movie character Wendy Christensen from FINAL DESTINATION 3 in the RECEPTION section:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wendy_Christensen

    3. Frank’s elegant movie quote from RADIO CAPE COD website is showcased:

    http://radiocapecod.com/index.php?page=press

    4. Anti Essays–a student uses Frank’s passage from A WALK TO REMEMBER to discuss a different point of view for an argumentative research paper essay

    http://www.antiessays.com/free-essays/122406.html

    5. Redwood City (CA.) Event Calendar for promotion of the film BIG NIGHT:

    http://www.redwoodcity.org/calendar/EventDetail.aspx?Id=2011&CallingPage=Calendar.aspx

    6. A blogger named Abbie that picked Frank’s movie quote for THE SPITFIRE GRILL to illustrate her point on why she regards this movie highly

    http://www.pickyflicks.com/2010/04/spitfire-grill.html

    Anyhow, SOMEBODY out there does not mind tapping Frank based on his reputation for reviewing and using his material you seem to think is lackluster. Hey, to each his or her own, right?

    Eric

    • Rob Brown says:

      Eric,

      Welcome to the discussion! Your points above have been noted.

      When I was a kid, I was helping my mom cook for some holiday gathering (it was probably Thanksgiving, but it could have been Christmas) and one of the recipes that she was using called for some capers. I had no idea what capers were, but she had bought some at the grocery store specifically for the recipe and asked me to get them out and add them to it.

      After adding the tablespoon of them (or whatever amount the recipe called for), I popped one in my mouth to see what it tasted like. It was one of the two most abhorrent tastes I had ever experienced up to that point in my life (the other was cod liver oil). I have never knowingly put a caper in my mouth since then, and that was probably 25 years or more ago.

      Now, I have friends who absolutely LOVE capers. Every once in a while, they’ll try to get me to try one again. I always refuse, however, because I remember the awful taste and don’t want to repeat it. The same holds true for cod liver oil as well.

      Frank’s writing is, to me, a lot like capers. I find it completely awful and with very little redeeming value. However, there are others (such as you, for instance) who swear by it and simply can’t understand how I can’t like it. I, on the other hand, can’t understand how some people see anything at all of value in it. Neither side will probably EVER be able to convince the other side to see it any differently.

      So, we have to agree to disagree. I’m certainly not offended that you like Frank’s criticism, any more than I’m offended by people who like reggae music or Kim Kardashian. While I don’t understand it, I’m certainly okay with it. It all boils down to personal preference.

      Like you said, to each his or her own.

      I do have to point out once more, though, that the use of a line from one of Frank’s reviews in helping to promote a movie or to back up one’s position about a film is in no way a ringing endorsement of his critical prowess. Do you honestly believe that if Frank had given a film a bad review but had written it really, really well, that the filmmaker would say, “Aw, even though Frank just slagged my film, I want to use this quote of his about my film having a “staggeringly stagnant stench” because, wow, that’s such great writing!” Nope. It wouldn’t happen. To put it another way, if I had made a movie and Frank had given it a good review, I’d use a line of his, too, ESPECIALLY if his was one of the few good notices that it got.

      So I guess that I’ll leave it at that for now.

      Thanks for writing in, Eric!

      Rob

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