I must confess: I’m a crap critic…


I’d make a terrible critic. I’d make a particularly bad movie critic.

I think we have different agendas. That’s why you’ll rarely see a review of a movie or a TV show here. I’m crap at it. The stuff I love, they tend to hate. That’s proven by the fact that I rarely enjoy movies that win awards. I might appreciate them, but I rarely walk out of the theatre changed in any way by the experience.

When I watch a movie, I’m not watching it to assess the actors performances, or the plot, or the direction or any of those other things that Margaret and David* talk about. I’m not watching it in order to give it a star or two or five.

When I watch a movie, I want to be moved. I want to be entertained. I want my mind to be blown and my senses to be amazed and my heart to be tugged.

It’s not that I always expect a happy ending- I know that’s not possible- but I want a hopeful ending, an ending that hints at a possibility beyond the closing credits.

The thing is, sometimes I think critics are too focused on things they think they’re supposed to be focused on, rather than the reasons that ordinary people go to the movies for.

The other day I was listening to a podcast (yes, I’m a nerd), and someone whose opinion I respect very much made the comment that he was going to try very hard not to see Baz Luhrmann’s The Great Gatsby. The critics have panned it too- the ones who are supposed to know about these things, anyway.

That’s the thing I love about a Baz Luhrmann production- it’s a production, a spectacular production…every time.

With a Baz Luhrmann movie, there is a reaction- and it’s never an ambiguous one…and that’s the point. You either love it or you hate it- you don’t come out thinking, ‘yeah, it was ok.’ And that’s the point.

I saw The Great Gatsby last night and have one word to describe the experience …Stupendous.

It was completely over the top- as a spectacle, in its rollercoaster cinematography, in the lushness of costumes, settings and music. It was over the top in its escapist fantastical whole. It’s that more is more that brings the emotion out in a Luhrmann film.

Our narrator, Nick Carroway is overwhelmed. He’s been taken from his usual life and thrown head first into the whirlwind that is the Gatsby. Through the excesses of production we feel the same. I was enthralled from the opening scene and didn’t draw breath again until the closing credits.

What did the critics say? Things like “…tramples over the subtleties of the F Scott Fitzgerald classic…” or “transformed a book of class, subtlety and sophistication into a frenzied folly, with the heartfelt emotion of a Las Vegas floorshow.”

Others have loved it. I’ve seen ratings from 2 stars to 4.5 stars.

Friends opinions have been as divided. One said, ‘don’t you think it was, well, a little OTT?’

A little? A little over the top? Absabloodylutely. If you don’t do excesses, if you’re into subtlety, you’ll hate it. Somehow though, I don’t think Luhrmann would care- he just wants you to really feel something. He wants you to be moved. I was.

It’s 5 stars from me.

Gold star

*From The Movie Show

Author: Jo

Author, baker, sunrise chaser

10 thoughts

  1. I think when you step into a Baz Lurhman production you should expect just that. But as a fan of the book (I recently re-read it in preparation to see the film) I can see why critics and the like could be harsh. However, I haven’t see it yet, hoping to this weekend, but I do expect it to be over-the-top but I also hope that the essence of the story isn’t lost either! And you’re not a bad critic, just a real life one!

    1. Thanks Jodi. I deliberately didn’t re-read the book- I wanted to be able to separate the 2- if that makes any sort of sense. The book has a gorgeous subtlety & the movie is gloriously overwhelming. I hope you enjoy it too…

  2. I really enjoyed the Great Gatsby. I think he portrayed the essence of the story rather well, though it’s been 20 years, I will admit, since I last read it. Di Caprio is always excellent of course. It’s not, perhaps, the usual movie goers fare, but I loved it too.

  3. OK you’ve convinced me I must catch it at the cinema, Baz Lurhman movies just are not good as videos, I loved Australia and Moulin Rouge for their larger than life portrayals. Not to mention Hugh Jackman. I think you make a great movie critic

    1. hello, you’re a Pisces- you should love it 🙂 BTW I haven’t commented much, but loving your Tassie posts….

  4. Style over substance is fine, if you know what you are in for, I say. I’m going to go, I’m probably going to hate it. But you have to see it, don’t you? And for the style, in 3D at the cinema…I never listen to the critics. I have my own standards and half the time the critics don’t know what they’re talking about 😉

  5. I’m keen to see it. I was to go with friends this week to a fund raising showing but it was only in 2D and given that Baz’s stuff is usually visually decadent I want to see the 3D version.

    As a critic, I find it hard to be negative. I’ve been doing some write ups in my Fraser Coasting blog and find that I try to balance the bad with the good. A friend who also contributes to that blog recently did a restaurant review which was quite negative and I felt bad for the manager (who I know). I would have ended it on a positive note, whereas my friend didn’t. Of course it was her review and I couldn’t change it… but still…

    1. I’m the same. My mum always says if you have nothing nice to say, don’t say anything at all- & I’m like that with reviews. If I didn’t like it, I won’t talk about it.

  6. I don’t normally enjoy the critically acclaimed movies either – I’d rather be entertained than intellectually challenged by a movie. You should definitely do more reviews, I’d read them! And a belated thank you too for linking up last week – I obviously had a shocker and missed the last 4 linkers – sorry!

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