This statement might seem a verbose assertion that Everyone MUST like movies, and in doing so like the artform I like. But its really targeted at those who profess to be devotees of the cinematic arts but whose only perspective seems to be to find overt fault in every movie and judge everything they see as “not good enough”. I’m speaking of film commentators, both professional and amateur, who apparently measure their cinematic virtue by how sardonically and patronisingly they can denegrate a film - overt energy spent pointing out petty flaws rather than celebrating compelling successes.
I’m not adverse to judgement - informed judgement of merit, worth, success and value of a film is an important part of understanding cinema. Nor am I advocating that reviews should be glowing and rose-tinted with blind sycophancy. But I am suggesting that it is more helpful and useful and constructive to start from a base position of actually liking movies - the presumption of movies being Good rather than a baseline of Not Good Enough.
Certainly there is the cream of cinema - The Godfathers, Taxi Drivers, Blade Runners, Mad Maxs and Citizen Kanes of the world but that should NOT mean that if a film isn’t on par with these it is invariably Bad or No Good. It seems too many critics and amteur commentators start with a premise of disliking the movie they are about to watch and subsequently watching it with the express purpose of fulfilling that premise. So very often I see solid, well shaped films that aren’t shallow or stupid, suffer appalling reviews with overtly harsh criticism of inconsequential things. Much film criticism has become a race to the bottom to see who can dislike films the most.
It strikes me that these people evidently Don’t Like movies…!
Case in point… I recently saw sci-fi/pseudo post-apocalyptic monster-film ‘Monsters’ by Gareth Edwards. I knew very little about the film before hand and came out of the theatre being both surprised and satisfied, intrigued and fascinated. 2hrs of my life very well spent. A smart, engaging and surprising film well worth the cost of admission. It’s a film that - even without overt monster chases - both satisfies its genre contract and yet presents a very fresh perspective on the monster-movie genre.
All this before the revelation that the director also wrote, shot and created all the visual effects and did so on a home computer on on a budget under 200k. That said, as has been pointed out by other critics, there’s a valid argument to the notion that a good film is a good film and the size of the budget shouldn’t elevate an ordinary film to a great one (or conversely draw undue criticism for an expensive one)
But in the case of Monsters, irrespective of the major production achievement of squeezing such a lot out of a little, the film is a very solid piece of classically structured cinematic storytelling - a romance road movie with giant monsters as a backdrop.
It seems the film (and other such break out films before it) is damned either way - praise for its technical production or criicism that its technical production shoudnt be the yardstick of its merit. Alternatively where Michael Bay’s Transformers monstronsity is rightly pillored for incompetent storytelling that its astounding visual effects cannot salavge; here we clearly have a filmmaker who has focused first and foremost on character story with VFX in background support but is cricised that its not enough of a Monster movie…! Poor bastard can’t win.
At what point do we declare openly that Monsters is a very effective film, it works really well, its well made and it’s worth the price of the ticket…? When do start reviewing a film based on what it achieved rather than what it failed? Where is our baseline of what makes a good movie?
For the record, i fucking loved Monsters..! I loved it because I love movies and this was a good movie. I loved it because I love filmmakers and Gareth Evans has skillfully made a good movie. I cared about the characters, i was fascinated by the story world, I was compelled to wonder ‘what happens next’? I was surprised and satisfied by its conclusion and I had lots to talk about over a beer with friends afterwards…. Fuck all you arseholes who just want to bitch and moan. Where are the critics who love imperfect movies…?