Monday, April 16, 2012

Movie critics hate movies

I wouldn’t call myself a moviegoer per se. I appreciate the medium immensely and I know how to identify a good actor, good sound design, good writing and good direction but I wouldn’t call myself a moviegoer. The reason? I don’t really agree with the critics on everything – especially with their puzzling conclusions around Oscar-time. It is apparent to me that movie critics hate movies and they are akin to the bunch of repulsive car-hating blowhards who for some odd reason are chosen to select their Car of the Year every year.

Just a minute, kitteh...
Now I may be veering off track slightly but fuck it – it’s easy to compare Best Picture (only a sanctimonious son of a bitch would refer to a movie as a “picture” because it’s not one fucking picture is it?) with Car of the Year. The Artist is after all, quite a boring flick. If it had a car equivalent, that car would be the disgustingly humble Hyundai Elantra – OUR excellent media’s Car of the Year.

I dunno. I thought the Aventador was better.
 In my opinion, and this is the opinion of a person who writes a blog with the word “ninja” in it, all of The Fast & The Furious 5, X-Men: First Class, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hollows Pt.II, Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol and Rango were superior films to The Artist. Each achieved near-universal critical acclaim (yes, even Fast 5) and each were more entertaining and more engrossing in more spleen-shatteringly evocative ways. Now, correct me if I’m wrong, but isn’t that what we want?

All this progress and a black & white film wins.
Of course, this is not to say these films all deserved Best Picture (although Harry Potter should have been in with a shout) but it seems to me that the loathsome cretins who make up the Oscar panel judge acting as the only real tangible prerequisite and then just go with a trend (“this year a gay movie/black actor/Idols contestant/Mickey Rourke should win”)   – this is like judging Ice Cream based purely on temperature and then only selecting out of varieties of one flavour.

Rainbow fudge-ripple swirl didn't stand a chance.
 They then saturate the media with claptrap (claptrap means bullshit) so that the public are brainwashed into believing that The Iron Lady (the touching story about one of Great Britain’s worst Prime Ministers) is worth watching. Honestly? A movie about Margaret Thatcher? They might as well make a coming-of-age movie about a young Wouter Basson.

Wag... wat?
The Artist, like all of its competition in the Best Picture category was superbly acted as is expected but awesome acting cannot save a boring movie, can it? The average moviegoer knows this instinctively – it’s the reason why I donned a massive pokerface when Nolan’s incredibly deep and unique film about magician rivalry in the golden age of magic, The Prestige, wasn’t nominated for anything that mattered.

"OK kid. I'll explain to you how Two-Face works."
Gone are the days when movies like Gladiator and Training Day would win stuff. Now we’re being subjected to The Hurt Locker and The King’s Speech. It’s not because the critics are especially qualified or because they’ve taken the sum of each movie’s parts into account. Oscar movies are pre-selected and movies like X-Men: First Class or the excellent Watchmen aren’t even viewed. Why?  Because fuck these tasteless knuckle-dragging plebs, that’s why.

How you look to a celebrity... and anybody with more than 500 Facebook friends.
That’s what the Academy and Hollywood thinks of normal people. It’s funny because their primary propaganda vehicle is E! Enteraintment – that home of fat lipped PR execs, has-been soap actors and annoying-voiced banshees famous for spitting on their fathers’ graves by making sextapes and marrying Hugh Hefner. All of these esteemed individuals would fiercely contend the Raspberry category for Worst Performance on a Reality Show. How untalented do you have to be to come across as a bad actor when living your own life?
They're not acting. Celebs do in fact need time away from their spouses each week.
Don’t get me wrong, I don’t despise ALL of The Academy’s favourite flicks – although it’s really hard for me to judge films like Gone with the Wind or Casablanca because I can’t pretend I know how to appreciate them –  what with the greyscale/Technicolor, flanging music, weird accents, strange acting, now-dead actors and all. Although I am a fan of Clark Gable.

Quite frankly my dear, not a single damn will be given.
 I love Godfathers 1 + 2, Gandhi, Platoon and Rocky which have all won in the Best Picture category. Many will now agree however, that How Green Was My Valley (this green, bitch) should not have beaten Citizen Kane. And then there was 1984, 2001: A Space Odyssey and the extremely influential Metropolis which probably didn’t get a look in because it’s German.

"First you will create Destiny's Child, then you will marry Jay-Z..."
 The 90s, I feel were a golden age in Oscar history – where public and critical opinion was somewhat in sync. Dances with Wolves, The Silence of the Lambs, Unforgiven, Schinder’s List, Forrest Gump, Braveheart, The English Patient, Titanic, Shakespeare in Love and American Beauty all won. My only disagreements here were with The English Patient (Fargo should’ve taken it), Shakespeare in Love (Saving Private Ryan?? Life is Beautiful??) and somewhat surprisingly, American Beauty.

A lot of my readers are doing this right now.
American Beauty is one of my favourite films – with all the appeal that anything featuring Kevin Spacey on a mid-life crisis smoking a spliff should have (that is, a lot). That being said, 1999 was a great year for movies – literally ushering in the new millennium in the film medium. It had The Matrix and The Sixth Sense for Zion’s sake – TWO films that simply changed shit and changing shit trumps Keven Spacey getting high in my book. Both of these films would pride a place in any modern movie fan’s DVD/Blue Ray collection and American Beauty though great, wouldn’t really.

It's like a plastic bag. You'd only watch it twice if you're weird.
In the Naughties (and beyond) things changed a bit. Gladiator, A Beautiful Mind, Chicago, Lord of the Rings III, Million Dollar Baby, Crash, The Departed, No Country for Old Men, Slumdog Millionaire, The Hurt Locker, The King’s Speech and most recently, The Artist all won in the best picture category.

Jar Jar Binks won the award for "Single Most Offensive Character in the History of Media."
First and foremost: Chicago?!?! I saw it. It was neither more interesting (being an annoying musical), nor more original (being based on an annoying musical), nor more exciting (annoying musical, again), nor more well-acted than anything it was pitted against. This is the Oscars – not the Grammies and Gangs of New York should have taken everything. To this day, I can’t for the life of me figure out how a film on par with Gladiator couldn’t beat a film on par with Grease. 

"You wanna know why my pigs are named Catherine, Rene and Richard?"
Anyway, it was actually from 2006 onward that I began to notice the Academy’s tendency to simply exclude great films from the Oscar hype via convoluted media propaganda and straight up fuckery. Don’t get me wrong, I love The Departed but I much prefer The Prestige (and for that matter V for Vendetta). My dad thinks it (The Prestige) is the finest movie ever made and I think he may have a good point. It has a genuinely unique premise (the Departed doesn’t), it’s damn well crafted and it features Batman AND Alfred AND Wolverine. What more could you want?

Alternative cover for The Prestige.
 2008 was an interesting year because there were some genuinely excellent films nominated. Frost/Nixon was like Rocky with words, Benjamin Button had a beautiful story to go with its interesting premise and of course the eventual winner, Slumdog Millionaire was a defining coming-of-age/love story that captured global audiences by portraying the soul of India better than anything Bollywood could muster. All of these films deserved a look in.

In India, Sharukh Kahn wins best actor every year. Even when he hasn't appeared in anything.
 My problem: all of the films nominated in 2008 paled (PALED I SAY) in comparison to the un-nominated magnificence of The Dark Knight. Expected... because things like Nutella, Dino Riders and Monster Trucks pale in comparison to the Dark Knight.  For me, it remains the best superhero movie, best comic movie, best action flick, best crime drama, best psychological thriller, best romcom, best documentary, best slasher film, best rap video, best animated feature and the best creation in the history of man. Fuck logic.

Awesomeness invalidates argument.
 Heath Ledger’s Joker was chillingly breathtaking. The duality of the Batman was captured to perfection. Not a single character, nor line, nor set piece was wasted. Everything fit as snugly as a cat in a shoe box. In fact, it wasn’t that Slumdog won that bothered me – I’d have chosen it any other year – it was that it won over The Dark Knight when The Dark Knight was so obviously and universally sublime in every way. This was a horrible case of genre discrimination just so a-typical of the paedophilic, incestuous and [insert inappropriate, insulting and overblown adjective here] shitterati that control the Oscars... especially when you consider the odds-on favourite in 2009.

Half Smurfs. Half Twilight.
 2009 was another great year for moviegoers – a year that gave us Precious, District 9 and Inglorious Basterds among others. Yes, all of us were swept up by the beauty and scope of Avatar but in essence it was Fern Gully with aliens. Nobody would call it better than Dark Knight so why wasn’t Dark Knight made the favourite (or even nominated) in 2008 when in 2009, Space Pocahontas was? Making Avatar the favourite was just a big fat, pseudo-Smurf, dark blue middle finger to Chris Nolan. I mean by virtue of Avatar, Transformers should have been nominated for an Oscar.

Michael Bay loves the MTV Movie awards.
 Of course Avatar didn’t win like was predicted – that honour went to the one movie nobody watched. I’m not going to go into the details about this film but when measured against the admittedly excellent Precious, the tremendously brave District 9 or the somewhat incongruent Inglorious Basterds (all of my friends like it so I’ll include it), it’s found terribly wanting. The result was a facepalm that was heard around the world. An explosive facepalm that not even a bomb-disposal expert in Iraq played by Jeremy Renner could diffuse.

Although Hawkeye might.
The best movie to come out in 2010 was undoubtedly Inception. Similar to the Matrix but with far superior actors, no mistakes and Hans Zimmer instead of Rage Against the Machine, Inception was a masterpiece and it continues to capture the imaginations of audiences the internet over.  Why was the King’s Speech better? Because it featured the dude from Bridgette Jones’ Diary being taught how to speak by the Tailor of Panama? Because it wasn’t directed by Tim Burton yet it featured Helena Bonham-Carter?  Because movies that feature political figures always get recognition? I really have no idea. At least Christian Bale won an Oscar for the Fighter that year. 

"I dedicate this to the retards better known as the Terminator: Salvation stage crew."
 It’s easy to see that I’m huge fan of the Nolan brothers’ work. They’re the Mario & Luigi of film – perfectionists whom together (and apart) have compiled feats of storytelling greatness with a consistency that other, far more seasoned directors and writers can only dream of. Still all-round brilliant films like Memento, Batman Begins, The Prestige, The Dark Knight and Inception are critically glossed over in favour of one-dimensional fare that lack any sense of imagination, vision, originality or excitement. In essence we’re told that Angry Birds, while great in itself, is an infinitely better game than Skyrim.

I wanted a different pic. But then I... wait for it....
The Academy is in truth, a closed circle – a guild of sanctimonious trolls that are unready, unwilling and completely unable tolerate anything that deviates from what they know. They view movies as a medium which cannot be excellent unless boring, arty, sepia-toned, period-based, fact-based or adapted from classic literature and they ignore originality and all-round quality in favour of single-minded prerequisites. The Academy will sit together in a room and say things like “I honestly think that this movie about gay cowboys is more daring and original than this movie about thieves who steal information from people’s dreams.”

Straight guys have never shared a tent since.
Furthermore they continue to indulge the admittedly brilliant Scotts, Camerons, Boyles, Spielbergs and Aronovskys of this world, showing us that in Hollywood, it’s not about what you do but who you are. There’s an automatic feeling to the Oscars, a sense that Danny Boyle only needs his film to be made in time to make the cut. Meanwhile, other equally brilliant visionaries like Tarantino, Snyder and Nolan (for me, the finest filmmaker of the current generation) are given piss instead of mead and told to like it. 

"Don't give me a cup of sheep's piss and call it mead!"
Movies are about entertainment first and foremost. A truly entertaining movie must be enjoyed thoroughly – taking into account not only the performances of the actors, but also the plot, the atmosphere and everything else that can be measured out of 10. THEN you have to consider how it pushed the envelope. The King’s Speech was good in every way but it didn’t push the envelope – not more than Black Swan or 127 Hours and definitely not more than Inception. But movie critics hate “movies” and want to see “pictures.” A lot of them want to see little boys.

One of my favourite films is Swordfish – very underappreciated in its time (although hardly Oscar worthy), the portrayal of Gabriel Shear was in my opinion John Travolta’s finest performance – so much so in fact, that the dazzle eclipsed the entire movie. The most memorable scene was incidentally a veiled attack on Hollywood (specifically their tendency to overlook screenplay) by astronomically named writer Skip Woods. The epic monologue went like this:

My favourite actor (Christian Bale of course) once said, “You look back at the history of the Oscars - some of the best movies never got shit.” 

I know that feel, bro.