Warning! I am about to indulge in “old movie fan privilege,” whatever that is. I was accused of that once by someone whose Twitter feed was filled with nothing but complaints, so I didn’t take it personally nor seriously.
I was part of the generation who grew up watching At the Movies, because all we had were three networks, and PBS. I didn’t always agree with Gene Siskel and/or Roger Ebert, but I usually came away learning something.
These days, people either love or hate something–there is no middle ground–and rarely do they bother with an explanation. I admit my guilt in not always explaining my reasoning behind why I liked or disliked a movie, but the truth is hardly anyone cares about the finer points. If At the Movies was on today, everyone would just tune in for the last two minutes to catch the recap.
People say they want honest film criticism, but what they really want is someone to validate their opinion. I am that rare bird that often seeks out a dissenting opinion. With some films I don’t bother, because I know that everyone had their minds made up months ago, despite all claims to the contrary. That, or they just like to nitpick/show off their knowledge. What I am looking for is to see if I missed something, or misinterpreted the story.
There are a lot of articles on the internet with headlines like: “Why (insert name of popular movie) Actually Sucks!!!” These are not helpful and are nothing but clickbait. Some are just screeds by people with an agenda, or maybe they don’t know any better. It’s like that college student who comes home for the hollidays and proclaims they are vegan, and you are all a bunch of murderers.
Some reviewers hate anything that is popular. I don’t need Morgan Spurlock to tell me a steady diet of McDonald’s isn’t exactly healthy–but it sure is tasty. The Marvel films could be considered the cinematic equivilent of fast food, but as long as they work, why change them?
Some claim that most Hollywood movies are fomulaic, but when a director tries to bust out some fresh moves, the critics complain that the filmmaker didn’t follow the conventions of cinematic language and/or storytelling. Yet, some filmmakers get a free pass no matter what they do. You just can’t win.
Good film criticism can entice me to watch a movie I had no interest in, or it can give me a reason to take a second look at something I didn’t care for the first time around. What it has never done is make me turn my back on something that I enjoy, for whatever reason. No film is perfect–not even Citizen Kane. In his lifetime, critics were often unkind to Orson Welles; and many were dismissive of Alfred Hitchcock. In the ’50s and ’60s the French loved the Master of Suspense, but they also loved Jerry Lewis; so there’s that. It was a film critic turned director from France named Francois Truffaut who coined the term “great flawed film.” If some of my favorite movies fall into that catagory, that’s okay with me.