I am offended, not because of who I am, but because of what I love. In spring, a breakthrough Guardian article dared to suggest two outlandish things: that in my third year of Film Studies I likely had a girlfriend. And that if I loved film I would introduce her to it by sitting her in front of a LAPTOP to watch a movie for the first time. Lately I’ve wonder in Pop Culture why do so many breakout female writers have toxic boyfriends? For much of this I have no answer.
The article that once set #FilmTwitter afire is well written. I do wish the author had set their sights on a takedown of The Godfather instead of some moderately successful movie from over 12 years ago. I don’t like reactionary articles but an unpopular or non-take opinion now known as ‘smug journalism’ has not only become the defining sub-genre of Social Media Opinion, I’m afraid its mostly become a trait of millennial writing. The author of the piece agrees with me on several things about There Will Be Blood: the rousing score, memorable set-pieces, and underrated Paul Dano performance. We also agree that Daniel Day Lewis’s method trope is tiresome and that third year students watch a lot of movies. I think movies should strive to entertain as much as they teach lessons, but the slight the author gives is admitting to not having seen the whole film. Not an actual requirement in today’s culture. Which produces reactionary pieces so incendiary they have become known as hot takes. In a non gig economy this wouldn’t happen.
This pandemic is getting to everyone. How else can you account for an alternate take on 12+ year-old movie getting a follow-up article here? Anyone’s fresh take on a film is a triumph of free speech as far as I’m considered until they get paid enough for it. The article is a series started during the COVID-19 crisis. Of course Brits don’t take to stories about American exceptionalism. Critics like to set their sites on easy targets like Forrest Gump and Titanic. The series does include such legitimate takes as why Top Gun is so popular when it is actually so bad? But if you delve further into it you might notice something. The stiff Brits have never been on a ‘slam bang thrill ride’. They simply have no idea what it’s like to put two thumbs not just up, but all the way up. One entry may centre on a justifiably grand negative viewing experience over a period of years, but greater ire should be placed on even more lazily written takes. The Forrest Gump one begins with an aside that someone was shouting in the theatre during the elevator scene in Speed because it wasn’t a bus. Not exactly the kind of person you want reviewing a crowd pleasing film. He then goes on to describe the experience watching Forrest Gump as the most ungodly viewing experience imaginable. Any critic who decries a viewing experience in an ungodly way and gets paid to do it, shouldn’t be a film critic. If the experience of watching a movie is so awful to you, turn it off or pick another career. There is already too much suffering in the world. It’s perfectly reasonable not to like Academy Award winning movies in IMDB’s top 250 whose credibility is strained by the fact that Interstellar is number #30 but there are actual worse things in the world, and getting paid to write about a hateful viewing experience isn’t one of them.
The article which inspired this draws a negative direct correlation between race, sex, age, orientation, and taste. The article also conveniently overlooks minorities who like it in favour of the now lazy toxic male narrative. Sure men are bad. Are they also to blame for the one thing you have control over? The article grossly commits the sin of pleading ignorance on the subject one is writing about, and like most millennial written articles, can’t just be straightforward opinion it has to be endlessly and needlessly contextualized. In the end the author goes a long way to say it wasn’t for me when they could have spent more time on a film they liked rather than one they fell asleep to years ago. I’m not gonna spend time on an impeccably written takedown of Platoon or Oliver Stone. Unless I get paid of course, which increasingly within my age group seems like a more legitimate option. My Gen Y Y chromosome has screwed me yet again in ways that won’t be clear until the history books have been written. Anyone who says they didn’t like Fifty Shades of Grey is fine, but if they haven’t watched it and reviewed it it’s a problem because it requires honest work to do so. Pay someone else who cares.
What we all can agree on: Johnny Greenwood’s score for There Will Be Blood is the second best Radiohead score after Thom Yorke’s song for Motherless Brooklyn. Robert Elswitt’s cinematography is excellent and on par with his best work in Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol. It is one of the first non-blockbuster films I can admit to genuinely liking. Though anyone claiming discovery on a film produced by a major label that stars major actors and wins Academy Awards is being thick.
What me and the author agree on: Daniel Day-Lewis’ method acting trope is toxic. The rumour is he threw an actual bowling pin in ad lib at an actor’s head before that actor complained of the danger then got fired.) Milk is also an overused motif. Plainview’s milkshake monologue is kind of stupid. And finally those epic film viewings that go on for years despite their irrelevance and your seeming indifference to them later inevitably becomes more relevant.
What me and Critics agree on: It’s uncomfortable being unfairly singled out for things you like in a negative way. A lot of good writers also seem to have bad taste in boyfriends. If it’s a slow news day why can’t I get paid to write?
Nobody agrees with me on: The whole spate of May 2005 movies; Kingdom of Heaven is not as good as its reputation suggests. Crash thoroughly deserved its 2005 Best Picture win. Any movie titled Kicking and Screaming sucks. Jaume Collette Sera surviving remaking House of Wax is a feat. Suzanne Bier projects are better for their discussion than their content. Episode III is the best Star War (It has the most stars and the most wars). L4yer Cake is awful.
- My dad doesn’t often immediately have his finger on the pulse of what women want but when asked he stated why would you ever show a woman that film?
- The first line in the original article is a misquote. The cited author did not in fact coin the term mansplaining and finds it degenerative so maybe lazy millennials should go back to using proper words: https://www.commondreams.org/views/2008/04/13/men-explain-things-me-facts-didnt-get-their-way/
- Why did I never meet female writers in college who were interested in film geeks.
- You don’t watch movies on a laptop unless you have no choice.
- This article triggered my terrible recollection of watching Wolf Creek. That movie is excruciating and I blame Netflix’s lack of quality control. 98% recommendation my ass.
- What is a Rite of passage sort of film? A smart movie you don’t have to be smart to watch.
Ex-Boyfriend comes clean after admitting to helping during viewing experiences of the last Quentin Tarantino film.
“I’ll admit it. I was mad when she said she hadn’t seen it. I mean how can you not have lived without experiencing cinema vérité? I tried telling her what she was missing, but she wouldn’t listen. I told her there was romance in it. I then helped by pointing out every single reference in it that I could read on Wikipedia and IMDB’ so she wouldn’t miss anything while she was watching. It shocked me after the 6 1/2 hours it took to get through it on an Apple Laptop that her mind wasn’t blown. How could she? Something about her foreign nature didn’t take to a American exceptionalist feature. And I did all the right things. At every social gathering we went to I would corner one of her friends or family members to tell them how crazy she was for not seeing what I have seen. You should have seen their faces, they all looked at me like “she” was crazy.
I didn’t want her to have to go through the same confusing experience as me watching it. No dice. In the end I realized there’s no convincing people with bad taste what’s worth it and that we definitely live in a society where Warner Bros. hasn’t released the Snyder cut… yet.
By an offshoot of Poe’s law I will state this article is written in jest.