If film critics aren’t salivating fanboys or stuffy film scholars (whose fear of the supposedly lesser contemporary world of film runs a shockingly parallel course to recent Republican apocalypse proclamations), then they are likely young and over-stuffed with Internet knowledge (not that this is a bad thing). Not everyone, but many people who write about films these days are lacking the seemingly prerequisite component: love for movies. This critique does not apply to Manohla Dargis and A.O. Scott, who, in an increasingly cynical world of film criticism, always remain optimistic. You can consistently count on these two for a succinct and insightful view of movies today.
Their write-up in the NY Times about a year filled with movies that are freely playing with storytelling convention is a must read. Again enlightening and clear, this article is also hopeful about the evolving form.
As someone who has gotten dinged many times for giving away “spoilers,” I appreciated Scott’s taken on our spoiler-obsessed culture:
It’s funny how much people complain about spoilers, when so many plots are the same. This is partly because so many movies fit comfortably into established genres, and much of the time moviegoers seek out the comforts of familiarity. You know which rom-com characters are going to end up together, just as you know that the franchise hero — whether it’s Harry Potter, James Bond or Spider-Man — is going to withstand the dastardly attention of the villain, and that foreknowledge anchors the thrills and surprises you encounter along the way. Following genre conventions is not necessarily a sign of failure — some of the best movies ever are perfectly orthodox westerns, detective stories, melodramas and marriage comedies — and flouting them is not in itself a virtue. But it can be thrilling to see something that feels new, risky or unusual, and even to venture into the realm of the confounding.