Monday, 10 July 2006

Review by Reviewer

Stephan Metcalf doesn't like The Searchers. It's a problematic movie, to be sure: it's difficult to feel sympathy for a racist, some of the humour is dated and Wayne acts the way he always did which is good or bad depending on how you view that -- and I'll go out on a limb and say I like it. It seems though that Metcalf mostly dislikes the movie because of the people who rate it:
[I]t is widely considered, by the initiated, at least, to be among the four or five best movies of all time. At his maiden screening, a young Cahiers du Cinema critic named Jean-Luc Godard wept, later adding, "How can I hate John Wayne … and yet love him tenderly … in the last reel of The Searchers?" Martin Scorsese and Paul Schrader routinely name The Searchers as one of their favorite films[.]

And also those who don't:
Not coincidentally, pop critics like Pauline Kael, who found much in the film "awkward," "static," and "corny," and Roger Ebert, who finds the movie flawed and "nervous," have been the most vocal dissenters in the cult of The Searchers.

This being the blogosphere someone has already penned a much more thorough take-down of Metcalf's review, in this case Bryan McKay, who I mostly agree with even if he spoils it with the last, insanely pompous, paragraph:
Well, I'll take my small, challenging films any day over a piece of commercial fluff. Let me endure three hours of von Trier's torturously beautiful melodrama; let me stew over Godard's intentionally distanciating and difficult pictures; let me take all these films off your hands, Metcalf, because I'm guessing they weren't meant for you.

Robert Farley over at Lawyers, Guns & Money spots another flaw in Metcalf's argument:
The problem I have with Metcalf is that he seems to think that because The Searchers leaves open questions that can be talked about, it's a failure as a movie.

Yeah, I totally hate it when movies just leave questions hanging there and fail to explain everything properly...

1 comment:

Bryan said...

I'm glad you enjoyed my article, Paul. "Insanely pompous" is a label I'll wear proudly!