Friday 26 August 2011

Shameful Criticism

There is a mean streak in film criticism or, more specifically, film reviews. It isn't enough for some people to say that a film is bad or unsuccessful. Some reviewers are negative with a force that seems personal. They hurl insults that are over the top and insinuations that are baseless.

Reading certain reviews it would be hard to believe that a bad film is not an attack on someone's God-given right to honest-to-goodness entertainment. They are paid to watch films and, when presented with a poor film, act like a spoilt child whose lollipop turned out to be bitter, not sweet.

Every release provides an opportunity for these critics to bend their basest instincts into vitriol. At the merest encouragement a review of a film can turn into a writer's showcase, the more creative and insulting the description of the failure, the more heroic the reviewer. It's a see-saw : the film goes down, the critic goes up. A few may even feel rigged, exaggerated, in bad faith.

There's nothing wrong with saying a film is bad. You cannot prove somebody wrong in their opinion. What we want is sober, erudite and constructive appreciation. So much of what we have (in the mainstream, linked to on sites like rottentomatoes) even sometimes from the more lauded, is an eloquently embroidered "it sucks!". Even the best, most level-headed, critics can indulge in snarky puns on the film's title. The problem is in approach and attitude.

And it is spreading...

"Marshall deserves credit for putting the "show" back into the Pirates business. But, let's face it, he's polishing a giant turd"

"[Sucker Punch] proves that while masturbating over your cast may not make you blind, it can impair directorial vision."

"...a film that unspools as a limp, cynical attempt to replicate the nuance-rich tapestry of her 2003 gem Lost in Translation..."

"Yes, Sofia has unfairly had to live with the embarrassment of being blamed for the failure of The Godfather Part 3, but it wasn’t just her fault. The entire movie and casting were terrible. As payback for that crippling humiliation, Francis Coppola has given his daughter a career as a writer-director."

"I simply hated The Last Airbender and I know I'm not alone in this. This is one of those times where hate may not be a sharp enough word for such wasted potential. In the right hands, this could have been something special. Instead, it was in Shyamalan's hands, and if this film is any indication, he didn't wash them after using the restroom."

Monday 15 August 2011

Jean-Luc Godard - Women in Close Up 1959-2010

If a film-maker has a singular voice, each frame will be as good as a signature and each image like a self-portrait. 

Some believe that the Leonardo Da Vinci's Mona Lisa is a self-portrait. In that spirit here is a portrait of Jean-Luc Godard (and his films) via the faces of his actresses - from Charlotte et Veronique in 1959 to Film Socialisme in 2010.

Music: Rachmaninov prelude op.23 no.5, played by Sergei Prokofiev