Resolution: Take the Bitch out of Criticism

One of my New Year’s Resolutions is to try to be nicer to people who like movies I hate. For some reason I’m not bothered if someone hates movies I love, but when someone loves movies I think are bullshit I fly into attack mode. I guess I consider being critical of someone for not liking a movie you like to be pushing an ideology on someone, while being critical of someone for liking a movie is … puncturing an illusion? Or maybe I’m just a jerk. I don’t know. At any rate, I apologize to those who have felt attacked by me and vow to (try to) disagree more elegantly. Though a recent trail of comments on my Facebook status indicates my struggle:

Cynthia hated slumdog millionaire, what is wrong with you people. 12:23am10 Comments
Aaron Dobbs at 1:12am January 3
You hate a lot of good movies. Your hating this one isn’t particularly surprising. šŸ™‚
Cynthia Rockwell at 9:20am January 3
and you like a lot of crap, so likewise. šŸ˜‰
Cynthia Rockwell at 1:06pm January 3
i will add:
-great music
-possibly cutest kids i have ever seen
-the outhouse scene is worth the price of admission alone

but that’s about it.

RT at 1:10pm January 3
is there a short answer to why you hated it? was gonna go see it today? Too Sappy? Manipulative? Etc?
Cynthia Rockwell at 1:28pm January 3
it may not be hollywood but it’s the height of hollywood melodrama, manipulative and obvious and big and bombastic. i scoffed through the entire thing. except the outhouse scene.
RT at 2:10pm January 3
seen this? I don’t know much about this org, but their picks & categories seem very lame..what are they thinking?
TE at 7:55pm January 3
oh, lighten up. it was entertaining and visually grand. i pay good money to be manipulated!
TE at 7:56pm January 3
and yes the kids were adorable, makes me want to bring home a little slumdog.
Cynthia Rockwell at 9:24pm January 3
“what will we live on?” “LOVE.” vomit! he is a shellshocked zombie and she’s a gorgeous party girl, they will break up a week later.
MP at 4:29am January 4
i’m with you, cynthia — it was cliched, poorly acted, full of holes, and shamelessly unimaginative. if we pay for manipulation let it at least be good manipulation.

but at least it was fast with lots of music and shiny colors.

Facebook status updates get most of my film criticism these days. I also posted a link to this article, with which I fully agree, but which also does the kind of criticism I tend to do but want to move away from: criticizing the critics rather than the film:
A quick scan through the critical reactions on a review aggregator like Metacritic or Rotten Tomatoes reveals a fountain of excessive praise, as if, with the year’s end approaching and the award-movie field looking paltry and weak, many critics found themselves in possession of use-it-or-lose-it superlatives and decided that Slumdog was their only chance to get rid of them.
But on the fundamentals of the film itself, I fully agree with him:
Slumdog isn’t a terrible movie, but it’s sappy, suspense-free, and packed with one-note characters, including a female lead who’s more object than person. In terms of violence, it’s grittier than most similar pictures, but mostly in a desperately “edgy” way that seems designed to gloss over its blatant sentimentality. The best you can say about it is that it’s stylish schmaltz.

5 Responses to “Resolution: Take the Bitch out of Criticism”

  1. therese
    January 4th, 2009 | 4:10 pm

    yes, stylish schmaltz, big and bombastic, like just about any other bollywood/love story movie i’ve ever seen. perhaps people are especially impressed by it b/c they haven’t seen any bollywood so this blew their minds. sure it had zero edge (depending on one’s taste and tolerance) and was corny as hell, but i wasn’t expecting city of god, i was expecting what it’s been touted as – the “feel good movie of the year” with a kickass soundtrack and pretty colors. oh shit, do you hate city of god, too? i don’t want to get into it! anyway, you’ve every right to moan about movies you hate but it’s why i pay zero attention to critics, i don’t need to be patronized by someone with “superior” taste.

  2. therese
    January 4th, 2009 | 4:16 pm

    i should add that i took many hours of film crit classes in college, often from a feminist perspective. i had to step back from it all as it took a lot of the fun out of watching movies. just my POV, but thought i’d mention that i kinda know where you’re coming from.

  3. January 4th, 2009 | 5:49 pm

    ha i haven’t seen city of god but from what i understand it has all the traits that would make me hate it too. and this isn’t an issue of me not being able to step back and enjoy movies, this is just a crap movie. give me shaolin soccer or galaxy quest over this condescending crap any day.

  4. January 4th, 2009 | 6:04 pm

    to reiterate, this post is an apology for attacking people, not movies. i still *hate* slumdog millionaire.

  5. joel
    March 1st, 2009 | 2:27 am

    im with ya. Even if slumdog hadn’t won the awards it did, it would still have been massively overated.

    Charachters motivations and behaviours were inconsistent,
    and the whole message of the film is empty – with no real worth.