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In Reply to: RE: An interesting take on SPR versus SiL posted by RGA on April 08, 2020 at 07:50:53
merely look at critic favorites, lauded directors' efforts, etc. For many years, I attended PIFF (Portland Int'l. Film Festival) and the curators all speak to one another, to folks in other countries to cull the consensus bests. "Film Comment" magazine is a great resource for those seeking the best films from around the world.
Well critics are not necessarily any sort of gold standard either - directors choose best directors. They also select who gets those life-time achievement awards. So when some "nobody" on a forum starts on that XYZ director is an overrated hack I often laugh and wonder what they have actually done artistically that was worth a crap.
Film is art - it's different than reviewing cars, stereos, or toasters.
To be a good art/film critic they have to have a pretty wide palette in that they can fairly evaluate all genres no matter the subject.
Take Horror - many of the good ones offer some commentary on society, mankind (humanity), consumerism, (Night of the Living Dead and Dawn of the Dead and George Romero in general) etc. The ability to see through the visceral (ie; past the gore) to what was actually the theme can only be done by critics at a higher level than the "horror movies are shlock" types. People with literature degrees tend to trump people who just know how to work the F-stop on a camera. But if the critic can't see past some red paint passing for blood then that critic is useless IMO.
Satire (JoJo Rabbit) runs flat on the literal minded (so does dark humor). So they frankly don't "get" Pulp Fiction's humour (or even realize it is a comedy) or probably any of Tarantino's other films. Do these critics even get that many of them are linked from film to film that there are set pieces that are carried over from film to film - the same white Honda car is in Pulp Fiction, Kill Bill and Death Proof or that Vincent Vega in Pulp Fiction is the brother of Vic Vega in Reservoir Dogs or that Kill Bill vol 1 and 2 are movies that the characters in Pulp Fiction would be watching in their "universe" - Mia Wallace is playing Beatrix Kiddo in Kill Bill. Hell those Kill Bill movies were set up in Pulp Fiction in the $5 milkshake scene. The dance scene in Pulp Fiction is taken from the movie 8 1/2 not, mistakenly assumed, a prior John Travolta picture.
Dark Humour, Science Fiction, Satire typically demands more from an audience. That is why when I see people gravitate to "pretty" cinematography and films built on camera angles with few words and more pictures I am less impressed with them as critics.
Even the well intentioned critics and sometimes well written reviews of Satirical film miss the point. The Hitler character in JoJo Rabbit comes from the mind of a 10 year old vision of what Hitler is representing to him in the absence of his father - a monster in the guise of an imaginary friend. He is not "actually Hitler" so it's an important differentiation that again fails to be realized by critics who operate in a black and white literal mind. If one laughs at the imaginary friend Hitler they are not laughing at Hitler.
I mean it should be obvious when "the main reason they present Hitler this way, however, is to deconstruct fascist thinking. Jojo can't even tie his shoes, and he sees the Third Reich in the way a young American boy would picture Navy Seals. Through him, WWII is almost a fairy tale adventure — there's even a scene where he sips watered-down soup across from Hitler, gorging on a roasted unicorn." https://badgerherald.com/artsetc/2019/11/21/jojo-rabbit-is-a-jaw-dropping-take-on-satire/
Although the film is set in the Nazi era, it, in fact, laughs in the face of present-day hatemongers and institutionalised propaganda machinery.
Jojo Rabbit uses Germany as an allegory to convey what indoctrinators and manipulators can do with the conscience of today's youth.
And what is also the point of satire is to make the viewer think and feel uncomfortable about what they are seeing. A good satire isn't supposed to be well loved by all. It should have people rail against it as they railed against The Producers back in 1967.
"Dark Humour, Science Fiction, Satire typically demands more from an audience." "More?" So Antonioni films, all of them are first-and-foremost visual art, demand "less"?
Bela Tarr? Tarkovsky? Kubrick?
Perhaps you don't like films of these very, very visual directors?
Some feel that what separates film from literature or theater is what makes it a true art form: the visual dimension is the key. I appreciate films that are well-made, period.
There are many kinds of critics and I think if one reads a wide selection and reads compendia of their opinions--- one can get a good general idea of a film's worth.
Obviously film is a visual medium and it is often integral to a film - for that matter so is music. Whether it be a blockbuster like Jaws or creating a claustrophobic space in Das Boot. Spectacle isn't irrelevant but it should serve character, theme, and not be the main attraction. Films that tend to stay relevant and that are still liked by modern younger and smart younger audiences are those that tend to be strong in character. This is especially true for films that were blockbusters back in the day. Jaws holds up because of the three main protagonists not because the shark effects are good (they're not).
A lot of visual directors tend to make themselves known like "look at this great shot" and that usually comes off as some pretentious director trying too hard to be original instead of serving a good character or story. Perhaps, because in both domains the film is weak so the spectacle has to make up for that failing. Avatar is an example of an atrocious movie where the director is throwing everything he possibly can at the screen to put lipstick on a pig.
I do agree with you though that film does not have to fit in a round hole - you can make a visual film and it can be very good and in many genres from Anime to horror to whatever really. The semi-hit example that springs to mind is Run Lola Run which relies almost entirely on visual style and direction and has little character development and plot but relies on pacing and visuals and it's a pretty exciting film. Kubrick is a fair example but I still say his movies still have a lot of meat to them and his camera work enhances but doesn't typically detract from the events.
The absurdity aspects of JOJO run through many currents that feed the rich river of satire.
The Yorkie scenes are... pure gold.
This movie continues to strongly resonate, it's pure brilliance.
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"Once this was all Black Plasma and Imagination" -Michael McClure
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