Home The Author The Book Reviews FAQs More Stuff The Other Side


BLOG

RSS Feed 

Sunday, November 12, 2006

 

Hmp.

I just went to the cinema, and when I came home, I read some reviews of the film I'd just seen. Naming no names, I'm once again in a bad mood about critics who get over-excited about metafiction.

Here's the thing. The film had a twisty plot, and also elements of performance that gave the critic the chance to talk about the artificiality of film as a medium. Guess which one he decided to go on about? That's right: film. He got so worked up about it that he pretty much neglected to wonder whether or not the twisty plot, which was what the performance parts of the story were there to drive forward, was actually well rendered. Which is to say that, as a reviewer, he stopped doing his job. Was the film worth seeing? Based on what he had to say, who knows? He got a sniff of metafictional abstraction, and, like an addled bloodhound, dashed away to track something totally off the point.

The closest he got to talking about it, and thing that really rang the bell, was the following remark: he said, in effect, that audiences want to feel neither patronised, nor outwitted by a superior intelligence.

But that's exactly what I do want. I don't want to be patronised, but I do want to be outwitted, especially when I'm watching a film or reading a book that depends on a twisty plot. I like plots that lead me astray and then startle me by being cleverer than I was. If the author can't stay ahead of me, then there's no point: why pay to be surprised by something that isn't surprising?

My critic friend, on the other hand, didn't seem to like the idea that anyone might be cleverer than him. His ideal seemed to be an erudite discourse between film-maker and audience as to the nature of the medium they were partaking of. If I wind up watching films like that, I want my money back.

Not all critics take this line. I hasten to point out that I'm not railing against critics en masse - there's a lot of intelligent people writing criticism and reviews, and I enjoy reading good ones - but it's a pretty reliable indicator that, if a reviewer gets worked up about the abstract implications as to art in a particular piece, they won't tell you anything helpful about whether it's actually good or not - or if they do, it'll be hard to judge whether their enthusiasm is proportional to the work reviewed, or to the ideas they had when starting to write about it. Possibly it's a good film, or possibly they just liked the opportunites it gave them to talk about film; it's hard to tell. And that's neglecting to do your job in favour of mulling about it, like an actor who comes on-stage and starts talking to you about the Method instead of delivering his lines. I like reviewers who actually review. Go to www.rottentomatoes.com and find the sensible-sounding ones, is my advice.

Archives

July 2006   August 2006   September 2006   October 2006   November 2006   December 2006   January 2007   February 2007   March 2007   April 2007   May 2007   June 2007   July 2007   August 2007   September 2007   October 2007   November 2007   December 2007   January 2008   February 2008   March 2008   April 2008   May 2008   June 2008   July 2008   August 2008   September 2008   October 2008   November 2008   December 2008   January 2009   February 2009   March 2009   April 2009   May 2009   June 2009   July 2009   August 2009   September 2009   October 2009   November 2009   December 2009   January 2010   February 2010   March 2010   April 2010   June 2010   July 2010   August 2010   September 2010   October 2010   November 2010   December 2010   January 2011   February 2011   March 2011   April 2011   May 2011   June 2011   July 2011   August 2011   September 2011   October 2011   November 2011   December 2011   January 2012   February 2012   March 2012   April 2012   May 2012   June 2012   July 2012   August 2012   September 2012   October 2012   November 2012   December 2012   January 2013   February 2013   March 2013   April 2013   May 2013   June 2013   July 2013   August 2013   September 2013   October 2013   March 2014  

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?