You are what you watch.

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Friday, June 10, 2005

Movie Critics (And Why I Hate Them)

This is really two posts, cleverly combined into one. First, my post about the movie Kontroll (Which is mindblowingly amazing) and second, why movie critics suck.
First, things first, Wednesday night, I saw the movie Kontroll. As I mentioned, it was awesometastic (It's not a word, it's better than a word.) The best way I can think of to describe it "Imagine if Fight club was set entirely in the subway, and filmed in Hungarian." But I really want to tell you as little as possible about this movie, because the less you know the better.
This is my new general philosophy, I want to know as little as possible about a movie going into, so that I can actually enjoy it fully. See I think movie reviewers over-write and generally ruin movies. There are a few basic mistakes they make.
1. Over-writing. Maybe this is some way for them to prove themselves, but a lot of reviewers seem to feel the need to write a complete academic essay on a movie. Take this example, from Premiere's review of Matchstick Men:
While the picture has a jazzy feel that a Larry Tate type might describe as “kicky,” Matchstick Men eschews the pillowy nostalgia that made the aforementioned Paul Newman–Robert Redford starrer so comfortable; it’s altogether more ruthless, which is part of the fun. (Sure, you’re thinking, “What about The Grifters?” but that’s exactly my point. The Grifters is a galvanizing morality play—Greek tragedy as full-color noir. The Sting was a lark, and so, finally, is Matchstick Men.)
Chatty, conversational, academic writing. Rereading that paragraph, I don't know whether or not I want to see Matchstick men, I just know that Glenn Kenny (the critic) has seen a lot more movies than I have. And finding those examples in reviews is way too easy, that was the second review I skimmed at
2. Spoilers. The common rule in writing is to back up what you say with examples. For Takeple. take the paragraph above, I used the example from the Premiere review to back up my claim about revieexcessivelyxcesively academic. But in movie reviews, this back fires. In addition to potentially spoiling important plot points, it makes you wonder when things are going to happen, instead of what's going to happen. I spent most of pulp fiction wondering when the rape scene would, instead of being suitably surprised and shocked by it.
3. Prejudice. Reading reviews slants you one way or the other towards a film. You might not have noticed that the lead actress mispronounces Massachusetts, but after the film critic in the Times points it out as flaw, you notice everytime. I find myself plagarizing critics when I discuss movies after I've seen them. Like they get in the of making my own decisions.
The less I find I know about a movie, the more I enjoy. For example, I saw The Fog of War, knowing absolutely nothing about it (I'd wanted to see something else, but got carded buying tickets). If I'd read reviews I probably wouldn't have even seen iactually actaully really liked it and recommend it.
So this summer, I've decided to swear off movie reviews completely, (sorry, Cinecast). I'm going to go in a blank slate. Will I end up seeing some bad movies? that'sbut thats what summers for, and when I see good movies, like Kontroll, I'll only enjoy them the more for not having them partially ruined for me.


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