REVIEW SPARKS OUTCRY
We have received a ton of responses to film critic Scott Foundas' 190-word, capsule review of Journey From the Fall, which appeared in our March 23 New Reviews.
I was a boat person, and I was just a student during the time the Communists took over Saigon. There were a lot of real-life experiences I have seen, [and it was] even worse than what the movie could have brought out. People got shot in the middle of the street by the Communist police for no reason, in front of my eyes. I cannot tell you all the stories of my experiences. I wish that you could live through what we had lived through, and [I would want to] hear your criticisms after that. It is a shame [that you are] talking about something you know nothing about?
I have read the Vietnamese news today in OC and realized that Scott Foundas had criticized the writer of this movie in a very ignorant way. Scott should respect the Vietnamese community in general. By the way, is Scott communist? Why does he think communism is good and should not be criticized by the boat people? He should be sent to the camps in Vietnam and let the Communists take "good" care of him, so he will know what it is like. He should apologize to the Vietnamese community ASAP!
Mr. Scott Foundas, how old are you? I think you are so young. What do you know about the Vietnam War? What do you know about Communists? What do you know about re-education camps? How stupid you are! Please interview any Vietnamese in California. They will let you know.
This gentleman Scott Foundas knows nothing about war and woes. How could he use [the] word "phony" for this movie? I feel sorry for his "no knowledge" comments. Poor guy. [He] should not [be] working at this job.
The difference between The Joy Luck Club and Journey From the Fall is that Journey From the Fall reflects almost every Vietnamese American living in the America, not just a few of them. The social change is the factor of the tragedy, not just some family conflicts as in The Joy Luck Club. In some aspects, Journey From the Fall can be considered a documentary movie to Vietnamese.
I think Scott doesn't like the idea that Americans abandoned the South Vietnamese. Also, the scene in the movie pointing out the schoolmaster's lack of knowledge about the Vietnamese culture of annoyed Scott. That's why his review is so negative.
Initially, I thought your review for Journey From the Fallwas fair, except for your labeling the events in the movie "phony." I truly believed it was a clumsy mistake in your many writings. However, after reading your response, I believe you are the type of person who loves to talk more than learn. Not only that, but you disappoint me by not acknowledging your mistake and persistently defending it with a "phony" statement: "I fear that does precious little to better our understanding of this still-resonant conflict." Even worse, you excerpt somebody else's comment on a documentary to defend your insensitive mistake! Do you really believe in what you say in your response? Or are you just try to protect your stupid a** by writing nonsense?
Thanks, Mr. Scott Foundas, for the review of the movie Journey from the Fall, but I think it will be more appreciated if Mr. Foundas can point out which scenes in the movie are not true. Maybe Mr. Foundas was born in Vietnam so he knows what was going there after 1975—otherwise, Mr. Foundas is a phony movie reviewer or even a phony reporter.
[Foundas should] please do some research and maybe even personal interviews before he writes his opinions on what happened and what's right or wrong.
Scott uses the word "phony" in the end, what does it mean? Is the movie story phony? It is not right to use the word phony; the events in the movies happened in reality. They are real events. Scott, if you're reading this, may I suggest you to do some research about Vietnam during the early year of 1975 and after that. OC Weekly, please ensure you have educated writers in the topics they're writing, as this is an example will cause your company to have a bad reputation.
Obviously, [Foundas] has very little knowledge of what was going on in Vietnam since the fall of South Vietnam. Soldiers were fighting until their ammo ran out. Many even chose death over being captured by the Communists. After the fall, South Vietnamese soldiers and officers were sent to the so-called "re-education camp." They were told it would be for only 10 days, but the truth is people were sent away for years. My dad was one of those. Next time, do some research before putting your foot in your mouth.
Propaganda plays no role in this film. That is the difference between movies in our country compared with the movies in the communist countries. Mr. Scott Foundas should not make an ignorant criticism, as he does not know anything about the communists. Scott could say whatever he thinks because this is a free country, but the Vietnamese community should send a united message to the OC Weekly about such published criticisms.
I am really outraged and annoyed by your review about this movie being phony. How is it phony? You should back up your statement and PLEASE DO MORE RESEARCH. You could say this movie was poorly directed, too long, etc.—but you should not say that it is phony. Where are your facts? This movie reminded me—and maybe others—of how grateful I am to be an American because of the struggles we went through to reach freedom. Next time you make this kind of comment, at least have some facts to back it up.
I am a VM Army captain, doctor, and former prisoner of the "re-education camp," as well as a former U.S. Air Force Captain MC. If Mr. Scott Foundas thinks the director of Journey from the Fall exaggerated the facts and the film is unrepentantly counter-revolutionary, I invite him to meet me, and we will discuss the facts. Where was he in 1975? Did he ever visit a labor camp? Did he ever see my friends die in labor camps? Mr. Foundas, talk about the new Clint Eastwood film [instead].
This is a silly comment about this movie. After I read this article, I strongly believe the writer has no knowledge about anything about Vietnam/Viet Cong. Please don't fool yourself.
Your review violated one of the important rules in journalism: if you simply don't know the facts or [have the] the experience, don't insult the readers by your shamming. Unless you are seriously culturally challenged, I suggest you try to educate/sensitize yourself thoroughly on specific issues before penning more ethnically related articles, or risk being OC Weekly's habitual jester.
Scott uses the word "phony" in the end—what does it mean? Is the movie's story phony? It is not right to use the word phony; the events in the movie happened in reality. Scott, may I suggest you to do some research about Vietnam during the early part of 1975 and after that. OC Weekly, please ensure you have educated writers in the topics they're writing about, as this is an example of what will cause your your company to have bad reputation.
Scott, obviously you have very little knowledge of what was going on in Vietnam since the fall of South Vietnam. Soldiers were fighting until their armo ran out. Many even chose death over being captured by the Communists. After the fall, South Vietnamese soldiers and officers were sent to the so-called "re-education camp." They were told it would be only 10 days, but the truth is people were sent away for years. My dad was one of those. Next time, do some research before putting your foot in your mouth.
Below is an answer from director Ham Tran, which you may have read already. To add to it, I have to say that my wife and I cried through the whole movie, because it is so real and brings up painful memories that we would rather forget. However, it may serve us better to remember them. (Two of my brothers were in the "re-education" camps. After being released from the camp after 10 years, one died a few years later. Both of his kidneys failed. Two others died during the Vietnam war.)
Tran's statement: ". . . It's not that I mind getting a bad movie review, but to call this film 'phony' is exactly the kind of ignorant mentality that we have had to struggle against in the last 30 years. It is the kind of language that has excluded our community's terrible ordeals from historical consciousness. This reviewer needs to know that what the speech in the re-education camp that the communist official lectures to the prisoners is not what he calls 'declamatory political dialogue,' but they are the actual words lectured by the communists to the re-education camp prisoners. Chu Son, who is the person who plays the communist lecturer, recited that entire speech by heart because it was what the communists forced him to memorize. This speech is by far not 'scripted'; these are the words that he was forced to listen to every night for three years, until they are forever burned into his memory."
The review about Ham Tran's Journey From the Fall is full of ignorance about the ordeal of many Vietnamese. Movies about Martin Luther King or Nixon would not change their historical speeches or words. Moreover, critics would not call such movies old-fashioned or, worse, phony. As a result, Ham Tran's real depiction of the Vietnamese should not be derided in such a manner. He uses the actual words etched into prisoners' minds in the re-education camps. They are real and they are painful. They are not fake, scripted "declamatory political dialogue" as Scott Foundas states.
— Russ Ly
The review is offensive, to say the least. To imply that this film is "phony" shows a lack of historical literacy on the reviewer's part. He should publicly apologize for the insulting comments. This film is all based on real, true, human stories, so to call it phony is to deny human suffering. His remarks are thoughtless and should not be permitted.
— Sarah Taylor
Comments made by Mr. Scott Foundas prove that he never had a chance to live with the communists—therefore, he will not be able to comprehend the atrocity of that regime against the propaganda that they expose to the world.
— Lisa T. Randolph
How DARE you call the film "phony." There are millions of stories that are worse than what is depicted in the film. This is a war against the Vietnamese community and a slap in the face. We will organize a major protest against OC Weekly for writing this article and stating that it is a PHONY story.
— Tuan Nguyen
Journey from the Fall is not just a dreamt up story, but this film depicts the actual experiences of millions of Vietnamese refugees. The comment on the film is an insult the true hardships that our people have had to endure, and it must not be taken lightly. The speech in the re-education camp that the communist official lectures to the prisoners is not what he calls "declamatory political dialogue," but they are the actual words lectured by the communists to the re-education camp prisoners. Chu Son, who is the person who plays the communist lecturer, recited that entire speech by heart because it was what the communist forced him to memorize. This speech is by far not "scripted"; these are the words that he was forced to listen to every night for three years, until they are forever burned into his memory.
— Jenny Phung
It is disappointing that in Orange County, home to one of the largest Vietnamese communities outside of Vietnam, that there wasn't more insight and sensitivity taken in crafting the film review of Ham Tran's Journey from the Fall. To dismiss the film's depiction of the reeducation camps as phony and overdramatic, when clearly the director had taken great pains to recreate historical events, is certainly troubling and smacks of ethnocentrism. I understand that perhaps the reviewer is tired of seeing international atrocities on the screen, that perhaps Mr. Foundas has seen this all before, but the fact is these words, images and actions are seared into the memories of many surviving Vietnamese refugees. They wouldn't find the reeducation camp scenes as declamatory or movie-of-the-week at all. If Mr. Foundas would prefer to watch more innovative filmmaking by studio directors such as Mr. Eastwood, that's fine. But I still find value and meaning in Mr. Tran's depiction.
To the editors: Because of racist articles like the one by Scott Foundas for his review of the movie Journey of the Falls [sic], I will stop reading OC Weekly and will actively encourage others to stop reading OC Weekly and to write to the advertisers of the OC Weekly that if they patron OC Weekly then I will stop buying their products. For Scott Foundas to call the movie phony is a slap to the face of the millions of Vietnamese who lived the horrors of the Vietnam War. Would Scott Foundas call a movie about the Holocaust phonyt? Of course not, because the Jewish groups of the world would be upon him. Were the editors of OC Weekly asleep or did they share the same mentality as Scott Foundas in his regards to this depiction of the war as "phony"? I will actively encourage other people to boycott this site and to write to your advertisers to boycott OC Weekly.
— Jimmy Chan
I am deeply offended by certain comments made by Scott Foundas in his review of the movie Journey From the Fall. Specifically, he claims that director Tran's use of "declamatory political dialogue" is "phony," which implies that the propaganda speeches hurled at the characters in the movie is just hyped-up fiction. Quite to the contrary, I know from numerous relatives who were trapped in re-education camps in Vietnam that these were exactly the type of speeches they were forced to memorize, and that this movie very faithfully depicted their true horrendous experiences after the departure of American troops from Vietnam. Scott Foundas is free to negatively review any movie he wants to, but to call the political dialogue used in this movie "phony" is tantamount to claiming that those things didn't really happen. Such ignorant attitudes affect the Vietnamese community deeply, and in particular it has the effect of negating the suffering experienced by survivors. It is bad enough to suffer in a re-education camp, and then to have someone say that it didn't really happen is just plain ignorant and hurtful. It reminds me of the experience of Holocaust survivors around the world who face people who deny that the Holocaust ever happened. With just a few keystrokes, Scott Foundas has managed to invalidate the suffering of an entire community. I suspect he did not intend to do this, and perhaps did not realize that this is exactly what happened to hundreds of thousands of people left behind. I urge Scott to apologize for the unintended, but lasting and hurtful impact of his comments.
— Paul Nguyen, M.D.
I'm not the one to critique a review, because one person's view is just that one person's review. Now I do take the reviewer's comments on the fact that the dialogue is phony [as] insulting. Not to get into my family's history nor to get into the politics, but for the first time in my life of 26 years, my sister's 29 years and my older sister's 35 years have we ever seen my father cry. He cried while reciting the lecture's speech. Something that I cannot comprehend. Something that has been forever scarred into his mind. The critic also depicts the movie to be old-fashion[ed]. I'm not quite sure what he means other than the fact that this did take place many decades ago. The fact that he infers that the movie is . . . full of "movie-of-the-week inspirationalism"—as if this is fiction and a stretch of the fantasy [and] imagination [is wrong]. Read up and educate yourself, Mr. Foundas: these events did happen. And if there is anything false depicted in the movie, it is that of the downplaying of these actual events.
— Loy Lee
While I understand that movie reviews reflect opinions, the evidence reviewers use when explaining their opinions to readers must be accurate. Foundas' use of the term "phony" to describe Journey from the Fall is unimaginably hurtful to the Vietnamese-American community. He wrote that it was akin to "movie-of-the-week inspirationalism" without an understanding of the undeniably dramatic and emotional tone of the situation. I guess I do not necessarily expect Foundas to reflect Vietnamese perspectives, but I do expect OC Weekly to understand the communities it serves. Although older-generation Vietnamese might not read your paper enough to matter, their more Americanized children do. In addition, it is important for others who interact with the Vietnamese-American community in OC to understand that their hardships are far from "phony." (The dialogue and behaviors of the actors were also accurate representations of the Vietnamese people.) These events were real and could easily be told to you by most, if not all, Vietnamese-Americans you meet. The OC Weekly's syndication of this article seemed to be without analysis and cultural awareness. The Vietnamese-American community would just like this paper to acknowledge the untrue facts behind Foundas' opinions and apologize for downgrading an immensely crucial aspect of Vietnamese-American life.
— Stephanie Van
". . . [P]olitical dialogue and movie-of-the-week inspirationalism feels decidedly old-fashioned and, finally, even phony." Scott Foundas does not know squat about the prison camps in Vietnam and the inhumane treatment of prisoners.
— Binh Nguyen
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