Saturday, 25 February 2012

Scene 6: Reviewing Film Reviewing

It's been a while since I've posted, and frankly I am not sure what to talk about. 

Should I discuss the The Artist - the award-winning pastiche of 20's and 30's cinema with its cheeky, cheerful heart that I saw last week? 

Or should I talk about the Oscars, something that was heavily discussed on Film 2012, and has already stirred controversy amongst Claudia Winkleman, Danny Lee and their reviewer guests - just say War Horse and you get two very different responses! Watch the episode here to see what happens: Film 2012: Episode 7

No, we can come back to those. Let me instead ask a question: Film reviews, generally useful or not? 

I now read and watch many film reviews in my search to keep up to date on industry news, and think I have sometimes allowed such reviews to cloud my idea of what a film is going to be like. 

Of course if we watch a trailer for a film we build up expectations anyway, but these are our own - or at least the impression that the trailer editor is trying to give you. 

Reviews are generally there to give us more information to help make our mind up. The reviewers should be quite knowledgable about film, and know when to spot a piece of celluliod trash and thus help us avoid it - especially when cinema ticket prices can be quite expensive. 

However, the review is often the reviewers opinion as well, and it doesn't mean that what he/she thinks is bad or good is what you or I might. If there's one thing in this world we must remember about media and the arts it is that everything is subjective.

For example War Horse - I heard it was going to be horribly cheesy, so that's what I expected. So when I watched it, I immediately noticed how cheesy the scenes at the farm, with its almost constant sunsets, was. To be fair, even after I saw it twice, I still thought those bits were cheesy, but I had to admit to the brother that yes, War Horse was actually a good film.

I just wonder though, if I had not read anything about War Horse, would I have noticed the orange lighting or the strange glossiness of the farm, like it had almost been CGI-ed in? Possibly. I possibily wouldn't have moaned about it as much.

A different example is Midnight in Paris. There is a film that I think was rather let down by its trailer. The trailer is quite vague, and makes it seem like Owen Wilson just wanders Paris in a daze, and does a bit of dancing. It fails to get across the fact that he actually time-travels!  Something I only found out about because of reading a review - which is what made me want to watch it. 

On the other hand, the review also mentioned the theme of the film e.g. that there is no golden age. This unfortunately meant that I ended up thinking about this idea throughout the movie - instead of just relaxing and watching it.

Then again, perhaps its not just the reviews, its probably partly me. I think I need to learn how to sit back and just watch a film again - without worrying about comparing it to what I've read about it, or deconstructing it, or think about script ideas inspired by said movie (thank you War Horse). 

Anyway, enjoy the Oscars!

1 comment:

  1. Reviews seem to come in three types; the excellent, the mediocre, and those which leave one wondering whether the person has read the book, or watched the film.

    Like any other piece of written work a review should be; something attractive to read, easy to follow, and a piece of art in itself. Those who practice it should consider it a craft.

    Leonard Maltin skilfully précised films, whilst also reviewing those films in less than two hundred words. Yet the reviewer/ some of the reviewers for the Radio Times do not seem to have watched the film they are supposed to be reviewing, and if they did they most certainly missed the point of it.

    Anyway, this ramble aside, I do read reviews but gradually learn which to bother with, and which to avoid.

    P.S. Go 'The Artist'