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.
*From The Movie Show