Matt Donato Enters The Chat Shack

Welcome to The Chat Shack, our newest monthly feature here at The Critics Agree! The critics agree: this is the best interview you’ll read on the site all month! Today, we’re chatting with February’s Critic of the Month, Matt Donato of We Got This Covered.

Let’s start with the question on everyone’s mind. You write for a site called We Got It Covered, but have you ever NOT had it covered?

Starting with the hard-hitting questions – I like it.

[pullquote]The site originally started as … fetish porn, funny animal memes, specialty shops that only sell Japanese katanas, and other such oddities.[/pullquote]Yes, sadly it would be damn near impossible to have EVERYTHING covered. The site originally started as Movies, TV, Gaming, Sports, and Music, but as you can see, the fat needed to be trimmed at times, and we’re now left with a site harnessing much more focus and power. Movies are our bread and butter, exemplified by the insightful reviews, in-depth editorials, up-to-date news, pressing interviews, amazing contests, but our Gaming department also busts their balls to deliver equally enthralling content on all those fronts, and you can expect big things in 2014 from them.

If you’re looking for fetish porn, funny animal memes, specialty shops that only sell Japanese katanas, and other such oddities – you’ll unfortunately have to look elsewhere (although I thought long and hard about reviewing movie parody pornography – has anyone tapped into that market?!).

As a critic, you get to attend free critic screenings. We’ve always wondered: do you get free critic snacks as well? If so, what are they?

Great question! Everyone knows the only reason we even go to the movies is because we love spending $20 on a Small Popcorn and a 2 Liter Soda, and screenings do offer critics that chance – except it’s free sometimes!

[pullquote]The only reason we even go to the movies is because we love spending $20 on a Small Popcorn and a 2 Liter Soda.[/pullquote]Depending on the screening (how high-profile a film is, which studio, ect.), snacks and drinks could possibly be provided. I’ve been given a voucher for a free popcorn and drink before, which is the most common, but there was one glorious day I wish I could re-live. I had a double screening on a Friday night, Red 2 and The Heat back to back, but my night was made a little easier by a fully stocked cocktail hour sandwiched in between. Waiters with finger foods, a loaded bar, beers on ice – sadly none of it could be brought to the theaters, so I had to do my damage swiftly.

Also, there will sometimes be special drinks at the press days themselves for a movie like American Hustle. Food is provided, and a creative drink menu will be put out based on characters or movie themes – now that’s creative marketing.

Do you ever sneak your own snacks in? Is so, what’s your snack of choice? If not, do you narc on others who do this?

You know, I’ve never snuck in my own snacks, mainly because I’m running straight from work to a screening across town, but I have been offered/have seen some weird snacks in screenings. Sure, people bring in candy and whatnot, but at one afternoon screening I once witnessed a woman eat a $5 footlong from Subway, what appeared to be a Cold Cut Combo, and the rest of us audience members were left smelling the dreadful stench of Subway for the remainder of our screening.

Another time a man next to me brought in a bottle of soda, which is fine – but he left the plastic bag on it. Every time he’d take a sip, he’d crinckle the damn bad for twenty minutes, twist the cap super slow so it’d fizz for an eternity, then take a gulp like he was acamel in the Sahara desert. This went on the whole movie – pretty sure it was a 2 liter bottle.

Sorry, sidetracked myself. Can you bring snacks? Yes, though it might not be encouraged. My movie candy of choice is Reese’s Pieces, which are ten times better than peanut butter M&Ms. Don’t let any lunatic tell you otherwise.

How can we get into critic screenings? Do we just show up and show them our web site?

First I’d need to teach you the secret handshake, and then you’d have to pass the physical challenge, and if, only IF you survive, then I can reveal where the secret passage in each theater hides.

What’s your favorite movie of 2014 thus far?

I’m going to go full critic and give you a Mainstream pick and a bonus Independent pick.

[pullquote]Due to embargo restrictions, I can’t actually talk about … Latino spices.[/pullquote]Mainstream: Due to embargo restrictions, I can’t actually talk about my favorite movie of 2014 thus far, so I’ll give you my second favorite – Paranormal Activity: The Marked Ones. I’m a horror fan through and through, and loved the first Paranormal Activity, but after the franchise reduced itself to utter stupidity with Paranormal Activity 4, my hopes were dashed. Fast forward to 2014, and the franchise has rejuvenated itself with comedy and some Latino spices, and I was more than honored to have one of my quotes headlining TV commercials for such a fun start to 2014’s horror genre.

Independent: Big Bad Wolves is a dark Israeli* take on the fabled childhood tale, detailing a crazy revenge plot that shows three characters hurdling towards one another – and one brilliantly violent night. Aharon Keshales and Navot Papushado have only one previous film to their name, another horror flick titled Rabies, but they attack Big Bad Wolves like seasoned veterans, making a movie so good Quentin Tarantino plastered his praise everywhere he could.

Then again, according The Critics Agree, I said Devil’s Due “NAILED IT!” – so I guess that’s my favorite somehow?

Who is your favorite movie critic?

[pullquote]As a film critic, I absolutely have to mention … the garbage I’ve had to sit through.[/pullquote]As a film critic, I absolutely have to mention Roger Ebert. Without his influence on film journalism, so many of the writers you read on a daily basis would have had a much more arduous journey to mainstream fame. Ebert was a pioneer, along with other critics of his time, who brought life to film criticism – an impact that will always be remembered.

As a young critic, and especially horror fan, I do respect a small circle of critics who don’t discriminate between the biggest blockbuster and the smallest indie film, especially embracing a horror genre that gets looked over by most viewers. Those critics like Scott Weinberg, who might be one of three critics who review the latest direct to VOD slasher film because someone has to do it. I love the commitment, and after following in those critic’s footsteps, I have a newfound respect for the garbage I’ve had to sit through. It’s a dirty job, but someone has to do it – and thanks to those die-hard horror critics, I’ll gladly accept the challenge.

Who is your least favorite movie critic?

I respect all critics equally (I have to say that because I’m not popular enough yet where I can finally stop ass-kissing), but there are a handful of critics who are just downright hateful. No matter if I like a movie or not, I still have so much respect for filmmakers in general, because if I could make a movie I’d be doing it. I always hear internet trolls dropping the line, “Those who can’t make films critique them.” Yeah, that’s kind of true, but film critiquing is necessary – when done fairly. There’s no reason to wish death upon any filmmaker, or claim you wish you could go back in time and perform an abortion on his/her mother so said director could never be born – that’s just fucked up. Comment on the movie, say what you didn’t like – but leave the hatespeak out of it. We’re film critics – not schoolyard bullies.

You didn’t actually name any of your least favorite critics. Have you been threatened? Are a lot of bad movie critics actually bullies?

Threatened? Pushed in lockers? Given atomic wedgies? Nope, can’t say I have been, but of course there are cliques, and who doesn’t want to sit at the cool kid’s table?! No, being a film critic isn’t as easy as everyone assumes – it takes a lot out of you. While I may not agree with some people’s methods and practices, they’re also getting the most notoriety, so they must be doing something right!

Off the record question**: We’re getting into bootlegging. If we sent you our old iPhone 3GS, would you record your advanced screening of Pompeii so we can get it onto the streets before release?

[pullquote]I’m going to jail for bootlegging.[/pullquote]If I’m going to jail for bootlegging, it damn sure won’t be for Pompeii. Going to have to pass on this one, guys. Best of luck though!

We wrote a script a few years back about a popular web site for movie critics. How can we get it to a Spielberg or a Scorsese?

Most popular directors really like being stalked. Find out where they live. Ring there doorbell a bunch of times. Mail it over and over to them. If you know where they eat lunch, camp out there all day every day until they show up. What’s the worst that can happen?

What does being a critic mean to you?

To me, being a film critic is one of the weirdest jobs ever. You’re taking someones blood, sweat, and tears, and telling people whether or not it’s worth their time. Seriously. A $90 million dollar movie can sink because one strong voice writes 650 negative words about it. People pour their lives into films, filmmaking is their passion – and we’re there to tell them what we liked and didn’t like. Me. Like, who the hell am I to critique films? Honestly? It’s strange, it’s weird, and I don’t always like it – but then again, it’s what I live for. Movies are an escape, a good movie can transform you – and that’s what keeps me going. Interacting with filmmakers, talking about the good, all the fun stuff that comes with it makes every negative review worth it. Honestly, I never want to write a negative review again, and wish I would never have to – but it comes with the territory. I hope filmmakers know even if I give their film 0 stars, I still respect them as professionals – but we all know they probably just spend their nights throwing darts at my head.

Do you have any questions for us?

Let’s see. What started your love of films? How funny do you find it when people don’t understand the satirical nature of your site? How excited are you to be misquoted someday by a major outlet? Are you boxers guys, or briefs guys? Finally, what’s the nastiest thing someone said after you “quoted” their review?

Sorry, Matt. We ask the questions here. Thanks for joining us here in The Chat Shack.

Thanks for having me, fellas. It was an absolute pleasure. You run my favorite film site.***

* The Critics Agree would like to note that these are Matt Donato’s (racist) words are his own and we take no ownership of them.

** Not technically off the record.

*** Matt didn’t say these last three sentences, as we had already ended the interview. We did, however, approximate what he might have said.

Matt Donato Enters The Chat Shack