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Karie's Blog
Karie (site owner) Written by Karie (site owner)
Mar. 20, 2007 | 4:29 PM
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Some thoughts on the relevance of film critics

I think another part of movie going consists of what you are looking to get out of the experience.  For example, I have a friend whose tastes are 180 degrees opposite of mine.  She loves big fluffy mainstream comedies and action films.  Her recent movie going nights have included NORBIT and GHOST RIDER.  I am far more likely to be found at the Nuart or the Laemmle theatres taking in a documentary or foreign film.  I would never say my friend has bad taste.  It is simply DIFFERENT taste.  She is also not going into a movie with the same objectives that I am.  She just wants to relax, unwind and be entertained for a few hours.  She wants to forget about her boss, her bills and all of the other nagging problems in the outside world.  She just wants to escape for 2 hours.  People have had a similiar mindset about film going since it began.  In the 1930s people flocked to the movies simply to escape the overwhelming day to day life during the Great Depression.  The same thing happened during WWII.  Many people just want a fun diversion and an escape, nothing more and nothing less. 

There has been much ballyhoo in the press over 300 and WILD HOGS lately.  Both films received horrible reviews, yet both have been super successful at the box office.  Does the appreciation of a mass audience necessarily verify or confirm filmmaking excellence?  Well no, but it does mean something.  It means these films are getting a reaction from the public.  They are striking a nerve or perhaps filling a void in audience tastes.  My parents loved WILD HOGS and they rarely ever go to the movies simply because they feel movies aren’t made to appeal to people their age anymore.  With the Baby Boomer generation now entering their 60s, there is a whole audience that is out there and largely untapped.  Movies are seldom made that appeal to them.  With the rise of blogging, film critics and their opinions are becoming less valued than ever before.  My Mom even goes online and reads reviews and what people are saying.  I don’t think it is just the MySpace crowd doing this anymore.

Then again, movies like 300 or WILD HOGS also have huge marketing budgets and a powerful studio behind them.  That can always help propel a film regardless of how good it is.  It seems that perhaps the smaller films are the ones who stand to gain or loose the most by critical opinion.  A film like LITTLE MISS SUNSHINE might not have had the popular success it enjoyed without the critics getting behind it.  Then again the critics loved ZODIAC and it is floundering at the box office.  Who’s to say?

All in all, there is no real formula to guarantee a film’s success.  Sometimes horrible films do well and brilliant films often sink like a stone.  I think the movie business is just a big lottery and game of chance.  Read Patrick Goldstein’s column in the LA Times today for more insight. 

First Comment:

  1. Karie,
    I read Goldstein, and that prompted me to go see 300, plus my gut sense that the movie and its venue (the Chinese)were made for each other. I was right! Laughed my head off, and 90 minutes were enough (“so much for… so much”, as CC would say), but it’s no worse than Richard Egan or John Drew Barrymore in the oldies, if, interestingly, l e s s homoerotic. Hmmm. computers can’t do everything, at least not yet.
    It also doesn’t try to ape their anachronisms, but instead finds its own (quick: What US Prez was famous for saying, “Come, let us r e a s o n together”? (Xerxes to Leonidas)) Answer: LBJ.

    I tried Zodiac, too, at the Dome. B-o-r-i-n-g! Like every other police procedural/serial killer except it takes three times as long. Give me “He Walked By Night” anyday.

    What’s the “best” 1970s cheerleader movie? (1) Anything with Rainbeaux Smith, and (2)“Swinging” has a “plot”, “Revenge” has Rainbeaux’s kid (end credits). You choose. Taste is a slippery eel. Hard enough to hang on to your own rather than try to guess others’. Just be sure when you do you make it clear that’s what you’re do-in’. (said the teach to his favorite pu-pil)


    Posted by randini on 03/23 at 08:32 PM