Reviewing the reviewers

Good article in the Guardian by Mark Lawson today on ‘critic proof products’ such as The Da Vinci Code. Indeed it does seem that no matter how much critics pan certain films, they are destined to do well.

In an age of $200 million movies its no wonder that studios want to ensure that their products do well, and more than likely are prepared to take less risks in making a movie and thus tend to create semi-watch able, entertaining eye candy that don’t really inspire beyond the same old plot formulas, for example:

1. Man meets woman or vice versa. Usually through a chance meeting, but sometimes through a blind date or whatever.

2. Man and woman either have rocky start before they fall in love or they just experience one of those “love at first sight” things.

3. After a whirlwind romance, one of two things happens. The man either does something stupid to tick off the woman and she leaves him. This usually involves either him cheating on her or them just having a general misunderstanding. The other option at this point is that he’s either lied about something in his past or just lied to her about something in general, and when she found out, she left him.

4. Turmoil ensues leaving both the man and the woman completely miserable.

5. The man does something spectacular and romantic to either apologize to the woman or to make it up to her.

6. She forgives him and they live happily ever after…at least until the sequel.

From: B movie central

Or how about:

Every story has a protagonist (hero) and an antagonist (villain). The hero is placed in seemingly insurmountable circumstances with the villain being the cause of those circumstances. The plot then thickens. The audience empathizes or sympathizes with the hero. The climax involves the protagonist almost giving into the antagonist, but at the last moment their unfaltering moralistic attitude wins through and the antagonist is defeated.

Indeed it always makes me smirk when people, especially critics, seem to expect more from Hollywood.

Since its inception during the 1910s, Hollywood has been one thing: a business. Driven first by European immigrants and then by Wall Street investors, film has never been an artefact but instead, primarily a commodity. However, unlike most commodities, all films are unique and so producers have attempted to reduce risk through a number of techniques including the remake.

From: Lacey: Introduction to Film

It’s no wonder that critics, who have to sit through much more of this crap than we do, get a little tired of the same movies parading before their eyes. In addition when most of the output is indeed Hollywood branded, it must be hard to come to terms with the fact that there is little point of even debating the artistic relevance of a movie when they know that at every point the studios have been trying to exorcise that particular ghost in place of bankable certainty . The result seems to often manifest in melancholy.
Lawson suggests other reasons why critics seem to not get through, proliferation of internet reviews, being out of step with the public, different tastes etc.

But I would like to suggest another more obvious reason why no-one listens to the film critics, ITS BECAUSE THEY ALWAYS TELL YOU WHAT’S GOING TO HAPPEN IN THE FILM!

Now I appreciate that its difficult to review a film without giving a little away of the story. But damn-it do you have to tell us what’s going to happen at the end?

A random review on the Guardian’s website for The King starts the last paragraph with

The movie comes to a crunch as….

I don’t want to know what friggin’ happens when the movie comes to the crunch! Its bad enough that most Hollywood creations are somewhat transparent, I at least want to kid myself that there might be a twist in the tail or an unexpected plot. What I do not want is a critic that not only rips the movie to shreds, but then tells me exactly what is going to happen anyway. No wonder people ignore critics, they figure, well I may as well make up my own mind.

Design + Copy = Bad?

Interesting article on design and the act of plagiarism on Design Observer

In the end, accusations of plagiarism are notoriously subjective, and some people who have seen my piece and Kunz’s side by side have said they’re quite different. You can judge for yourself. All I know for certain is that I felt a powerful sense of unease when I turned to page 476 in A History of Graphic Design. That alone compels me to offer Willi Kunz an apology. I just wish for both our sakes that I had a $500,000 advance to offer him as well.

Its a strange concept for me. Unlike in Fine Art where copying is practically de rigueur, music, writing, and graphic design views copying as akin to the eighth deadly sin.

In painting, copying masters work is seen as essential in honing ones skills. Further, referencing other works is core to the way a lot of art functions.

In a post-modern sense I can’t see how one could get away with creating anything without referencing others. Infact I would argue that its impossible to create anything truly original. Evolution doesn’t work that way and as products of evolution nor do we. Feedback loops are essential in pretty much most processes. This (commercially driven) issue with plagiarism seems to expect that output must be achieved without input. Pretty ambitious stuff, hey why not follow it up with perpetual motion after lunch and then maybe cold fusion before tea-time.

I understand that copying like for like should not be encouraged, especially if the person doing the copying is benefiting monetarily. But to expect design to follow the immaculate conception model is just wrong.

You cant design

BBC 2.0

Gotta love it, people are angry at auntie. I love the arguments;

Why should public money be used to create competition to a successful commercial venture such as MySpace?

….and what for it…..

Few will want to dispute the emphasis on building multi-media websites to cover areas ranging from sport to health. But the popularity of the BBC — it is already the most popular British website other than the search engines such as Google — makes it virtually impossible for commercial rivals to charge for similar online services in Britain.

This from such balanced and fair individuals such as James MacManus (executive director of News International) and Dan Sabbagh (media editor of The Times, a wholy owned subsidary of News International).

Damn the beeb to hell… dare they use public money to offer an free (monetarily and advertising) portal supporting society and stopping good honest, hard-working billionaires earning some more billions!

Also when did MySpace become just a successful commercial venture? I thought it was a ‘Place for Friends’, not a ‘Place for Friends to fill the pockets of multi-national conglomerates’. Seems to me that the BBC wants to set up a social networking site, not a cash cow. So in that sense James MacManus has nothing to worry about.

calm down dear, it’s only lazy journalism

Really should have posted about this when I thought about it yesterday. But I was being lazy, and now the point seems a little mute after today’s happenings. But I do feel I need to speak my mind about Charles Clarke getting all puffy and red-faced about media-representation of the government.

“I believe that a pernicious and even dangerous poison is now slipping into at least some parts of this media view of the world.”

Woh there dude….poison, dangerous, are these words that should be used when speaking about what is in essence free speach. I don’t agree with a lot of what the right-wing press prints daily in this country, but I do accept that it is the right of a free country to allow people to speak their minds. It is also the right of any citizen of this country to disagree with those statements. But to declare it poison, especially from a government official, is somewhat dishartening. Especially when the matter in hand is about how the government is apparently getting more totalitarian.

So lets some up, state officials declare that free media are becoming poisonous as well as lazy and deceitful, in what one assumes to be a bid to stop said free media on continuing with this angle. Isn’t this in effect attempting to control the media? Now I don’t think the government are really that totalitarian (but as Simon Jenkins states today – there does appear to be a creeping authoritarianism) but when they attack the press about printing points of view (however inaccurate), a dangerous line is being walked.

Overall, however, I do feel Clarkey boy had a point. Sometimes the press do go too far and print widely exagerated claims based on flimsy evidence and can tend towards absolutism.

“So some commentators routinely use language like ‘police state’, ‘fascist’, ‘hijacking our democracy’, ‘creeping authoritarianism’, ‘destruction of the rule of law’, whilst words like ‘holocaust’, ‘gulag’ and ‘apartheid’ are regularly used descriptively of our society in ways which must be truly offensive to those who experienced those realities.”

But then that’s always been the way the press deals with stuff. Why say something is kinda bad when you can scream “THIS THING THAT HAPPENED HERE IS ABSOLUTELY HORRIBLY TERRIBLE AND THE WORST THING TO HAPPEN, EVER….EVAARRRRR…ARGHHHHH…WE’RE ALL DOOMED….ARGHHHHH!!!!!” in 20pt red lettering.

For me the entire argument gets a bit paradoxical. Consider the situation, goverment is accused by press that they are being totalitarian, goverment gets angry and declares that press are essentially being totalitarian by suggesting that government is being totalitarian.
Now look, I have confused myself and am all ism’d out.

Rich Barnard – STFU


Artist: Rich Barnard

Rating: 5 out of 5

Media: CD

Genre: acoustic

Producer: self-produced

Favorite songs

  • something about you

Rich has been a firend of mine for a long time (we met at school circa 1990) and many a jape has been shared since. As a very good friend, I am ofcourse duty bound to say that his creative output is good. So on being sent a copy of his first full album, STFU, happiness and pride were in abundance. Yet moving the friendship aside for journalistic impartiality, I bloody well love this album. As soon as the last elegant bars of ‘Something about you’ faded away, I was doublie clicking on the first track such was my enjoyment of this very well produced record. And the second listen only enhanced the experience.

Simple in nature yet complex in all the right places, STFU is a relaxing and uplifting piece of work.

Tags: Music

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