Tuesday, 23 May 2006

There Are No Stupid Questions

Are the critics able to stop a turkey in its tracks? may just be the stupidest question I've heard in a while, however.

It's not even remotely the right question to be asking. Critics may have some influence on a movies Box Office, but, as the article points out, some movies — the big summer movies that no critic wants to take to their bosom— are going to make what they're going to make and critics can neither help nor hinder them. The Guardian article even uses Kingdom of Heaven as an example of a flop, to which Ridley Scott had already replied, in the Guardian no less, "$225m isn't bad, I guess."

Bad reviews are always fun to read, though, and I imagine they are fun to write. You can just imagine AO Scott, or not as I have no idea what Scott looks like, getting himself in to a right old lather when he writes:

Thus we have had a flood of think pieces on everything from Jesus and Mary Magdalene's prenuptial agreement to the secret recipes of Opus Dei, and vexed, urgent questions have been raised: Is Christianity a conspiracy? Is "The Da Vinci Code" a dangerous, anti-Christian hoax? What's up with Tom Hanks's hair?

It's not just me right? I read the 1-star reviews and the 5-star reviews because that's where the goodies are. What I want, though, is the reviewer to write-up a movie I might not have heard of if not for them. Elsewhere, I might have access to a very good arthouse cinema, the Showroom in Sheffield is one I've been to quite a bit, but often I don't, so I like being told about films that I don't particularly have access to but might be interested in if they ever come to DVD.

Not Coming To A Theater Near You is a good example of a site that gets this right, they champion movies, often obscure but not always, of many different types and quietly pass over those that aren't so good. They seem passionate about movies as a whole and tend to be good at pointing out what made the experience good for them. I don't think "Not Coming" are under any illusions that anything they say will make a great deal of difference to a movie's bottom line, but they probably feel that if they've made one person watch "Shoot The Piano Player", say, this month then they've done their job.

To be honest, Philip French has done his bit for championing the great and the obscure and there are many films that I have seen because he gave them good reviews in The Guardian. Reading him moan that he hasn't done enough to stop the latest blockbuster juggernaut, though, gives me pause to wonder whether it was all just about his ego rather than a filmgoers enjoyment.

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