Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Question for the Week of Oct 1-7: Judgement Mistakes

What do people forget when they judge a movie or respond to a review of it?
Acting as if a movie's quality reflects on the actors in it. I've trashed every part of a film - performers, plots, stories, scores, and directors. You find serious flaws in a flick, unless you simply like to sit back and watch a bunch of pictures with sound; pix, both bad and decent, can have noticeably terrible roles, performances, effects, execution...

But simple reactions to one piece, one film - that's easy. If you know anything about the creative process, and how it meets with the real-world film industry, you know that it's more complicated than "this movie sucks, Ryan Reynolds must be a terrible actor." It's more likely that he chose a bad script, and perhaps even for good reasons.

I famously hate Alien 3, but Fincher's other work shows him to be a smart, gifted director. I can rip apart A3 as much as I want, but it doesn't define his whole career, or his work ethic.

And, at any or every level, a motion picture can just fall apart. Some movies have made me hateful - toward the characters and writers and directors involved. Certain film series disappoint time and again, while a few particular actors seem to be undermining their own legacies.

For my own part, I tend to assign blame from the top-down. Directors I followed gleefully turned out to be a bit one-note in themes and ideas (I'm sorry, Mr. Burton, but it's true), prone to huge breaks between films (& I didn't like Jackie Brown for some reason), or as likely to hit as to miss (don't ever make a Clerks movie again, dude). Even auters that I didn't follow, but seemed competent, fell prey to all three. Or worse.

Think about how this applies to the players. Even a terrible film can seem competent for the brief time any one actor is on set. At times, a lead is so distanced from the production that they don't know how any of their scenes are actually playing on film; it's less likely still that they know how every scene without them will come across.

In any company, if you're in one field, like maintenance or research, you can't vouch for the performance of someone else in totally different station, like HR or security. It's the same way with the actors you see up on the big screen... At least, it's common enough that they deserve some credit. Many thespians don't see test screenings or rough edits. They could miss any warning sign's about the movie's quality.

You also can't guess what frame of mind they were in when they took the project. If a movie premise sounds dumb, maybe it was pitched as a different picture. Maybe they were sold on the part, not on the overall production. On one hand, any film or role might have a strong appeal - or turn out much differently than expected.

And hey, everyone needs work, right? This economy is awful...

I do and will still come down on soulless, bloated, completely misguided choices as if I were the hammer of God, but my criticism of the smaller players is always tempered. Studios, producers, directors, and editors, however, are all folks who have a greater say in the final cut.

I can say that an actor's role is no good, while still appreciating the actor and their effort.

I might try to define my standards in a later R3V13W3R$ entry. You can look at the entries tagged "awful" to get a sense of what the basement looks like. It's a pretty good way to read some of my harshest criticism.

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