|THE BEST MOVIE BLOG POST OF ALL TIME (or, how I learned to stop worrying and love the hype)|
|Written by Ivan Radford|
|Wednesday, 07 November 2012 09:11|
The best movie of the year. I’m sick of that phrase. It’s something people keep trotting out when they see something they really like. It used to be “I liked this movie” or "This is very good". Now? You can't just say "This is far above average”, it's "The best movie of the year", or "The greatest film of all time".
It’s no wonder, I suppose. After all, these are impressive phrases. They trip off the tongue quite easily. It sounds good. It’s the kind of thing that gets a film reviewer a quote on a poster. All good reasons to say it every so often – but now people seem to be saying it about every big movie they see. It’s like everyone’s turned into Heat magazine. Or worse, Nuts.
As a film-obsessive, my Twitter feed is full of film folks sounding off about this movie or that director. It’s great. But because I follow a lot of film critics/blogs, my timeline gets flooded with snap judgements every time there’s a press screening of a film. And this year, I've noticed that these spontaneous verdicts, these insta-reactions, seem to be turning into a sea of overblown hyperbolic platitudes.
It most recently happened when people poured out of a Skyfall screening...
And that, inevitably, puts it in direct competition with Argo, out this week, which people started hailing as the greatest film of the year during the LFF.
(Ok, these aren't great examples - searching through Twitter archives takes aaaaages)
But wait, what about The Dark Knight Rises? Wasn’t that the best movie of 2012?
And this is the irksome part. It’s fun to run out of a cinema screaming your face off about how amazing something is – but it’s another thing to forget your critical faculties altogether.
We’re watching films in an era where marketing drives everything. All big movies now have viral campaigns, clever post-modern posters, digital games designed to take you “inside the world of the film” and tell new stories starring yourself and your friends.
Fine, if that’s what gets punters into multiplexes. Normal people – people who aren’t silly enough to spend their lives writing about films most days of the week - go to the cinema a handful of times a year. Maybe once a month if they’re seriously interested. And studios would argue these extravagant PR campaigns are necessary to win audiences’ attention.
But is it getting out of control? Trailers for trailers are standard for all tentpole releases – not to mention trailers for the trailers for the trailers. It’s not just a poster that advertises a film now. It’s Scaramanga’s Fun House of neon signs and mirrors. And websites and magazines are buying into it. They jump whenever Hollywood asks, sucking up the bollocks they’re fed and spitting it back in audiences’ faces, hoping their bollocks-flavoured breath will attract more readers, listeners, or viewers. And that hype, with its pungent, genital-tinged odour? It may woo cinemagoers, but it’s making their verdicts smell a bit off.
“Lived up to the hype”. That’s another phrase that gets bandied around a lot these days. Movies aren’t judged by their own merit; they’re products, evaluated on how successfully they deliver on their advertising.
Prometheus suffered the biggest brunt of this hyper-hype era, building bloggers up to a climax that, for many of them, never came. There are two ways to respond to a film after months of over-excited blather: 1. You realise it’s only a film and not the second coming of Raptor Jesus, or 2. You decide it’s the BEST MOVIE EVER. So far this year, people appear to me to be leaning towards to the latter. Well, most of them, anyway.
Best. Film. Ever. If I ate a cupcake every time someone said something similar this year I would have exploded in July. And then people would have had to keep shoving cupcakes into my dead body for another four months, stuffing my stiffened orifices with baked goods until I resemble a Hummingbird Bakery-endorsed remake of Frankenweenie.
It should be said that there are still many sane people out there who resist the urge to fill themselves with hot air. For example, Master Robbie Collin of The Telegraph saves his number one of 2012 sticker for Holy Motors, Leos Carax’s bonkers-fest of a film; a movie far removed from the big mad hype machine.
But it happens with arthouse cinema too, in a different kind of way. Thousands of critics up and down the country currently think that The Master is a flawless, five-star masterpiece – an almost automatic by-product of it being a Paul Thomas Anderson film. And once one person proclaims it, everyone else follows suit.
Remember Moonrise Kingdom? Cabin in the Woods? There’s another cupcake or two to insert in the corpse.
And Looper, of course.
It’s entirely possible, of course, that we are currently in a golden age of cinema, that every single week sees a new five-star movie, seemingly directed by the bastard hybrid of Alfred Hitchcock, Orson Welles and Martin Scorsese – all of whom obviously owe a debt to Christopher Nolan’s Batman franchise. Or that these websites genuinely believe that every film is forever topping their previous favourites of 2012. It’s also possible that all those reviewers have just got caught up in the hype machine by accident, spinning round and round the tumble dryer with the Emperor’s new clothes.
Well, I’ve loved a lot of stuff this year – and there have been several four and five-star releases – but I’m calling it. That Emperor with the freshly laundered shirt and trousers? He may not be completely butt naked, but he’s wearing a fetching pair of pyjamas. Now can we please stop reviewing his purple gown and sparkling crown and have a calm debate about his boxers instead?
Oh well, at least it’s almost the end of the year now. It’s not as if this will keep going all the way through December.
What do you think? Am I imagining this or are reviewers more excitable than they used to be?