If you have a new account but are having problems posting or verifying your account, please email Niamh on [email protected] for help. Thanks :)
New AMA with a US police officer (he's back!). You can ask your questions here

Retrospective Critiques

  • 27-08-2019 7:38am
    Registered Users Posts: 4,751 ✭✭✭ The White Wolf

    I happened to come across the attached which isn't the first of its kind that I've read which tries to apply today's societal and cultural landscape to films that are decades old.

    Another example of this would be some of the reviews I've read for Tarantino's latest effort where some of the reviews come across as personal attacks on him as opposed to being a review of the film.

    I would be a left leaning individual on a lot of issues but as a fan of the medium, I do find this prevalence of politics/ideology tinged reviews to be tedious and quite frankly a bore. Every time I've read such reviews as this, they just across as just utterly redundant and the comments section are inevitably a mess.

    So I'm wondering if anyone else has noticed this?


  • Closed Accounts Posts: 3,423 ✭✭✭ batgoat

    The thing is, a film such as Natural Born Killers is designed to be studied to some extent. So it's entirely natural to question how right it was and I can't disagree.

    Other retrospective reviews can be tongue in cheek or can simply point out that certain aspects were questionable. It doesn't prevent an appreciation of them if they were overall well made. Eg Sixteeen Candles is a great film but the racist tropes are desperate. Then there are films that were simply ****e when reviewed but a hype machine which included reviewers overrated them to a huge degree. Eg Avatar was a great use of 3d but overall it's a terrible film, particularly for one that James Cameron had been mulling over for 30 years.

    In relation to Tarantino reviews that seem like personal attacks. His films are built around his personal obsessions so it's hard not to veer into negative feedback that doesn't touch upon the individual.

  • Moderators, Entertainment Moderators Posts: 27,814 Mod ✭✭✭✭ pixelburp

    I don't see the big controversy; most of that piece talks of themes of Natural Born Killers that were as true and present at release as they are now. It was always about the American medias bloodlust & role in violence, the issue of gun laws, and considered quite prophetic given how bad things have since got in the world of "entertainment news" in the US. Oliver Stone can hardly be described as subtle and it was right there on screen, so maybe the difference is you/me.

    Plenty of movies I've watched in the interim years, where I've since noticed themes, tones and messages not picked up before - simply because I was younger, less intellectually switched on. I saw NBK around 2000 in college and just seemed like a slick, anarchic punk kinda movie. I actually thought it was cool, in a "f*ck the system" kinda. Watching it again through more adult eyes and themes reveal itself.

    Doesn't even have to be "themed" films: saw Ghostbusters when I was a kid in the 80s and most of the adult humour sailed over my head. It was just a cool SciFi comedy. Now I watch it and I appreciate it at a different level, blowjob jokes n all.

  • Moderators, Category Moderators, Arts Moderators, Computer Games Moderators, Entertainment Moderators Posts: 27,239 CMod ✭✭✭✭ johnny_ultimate

    There’s a few perspectives on this.

    Firstly, divorcing the political and personal from criticism is unnecessary and counter-productive. Many great writers are fiercely political, and others offer deeply personal perspectives. These are incredibly valuable. And films can and do take on different meanings as time passes. To take the most extreme example, it’s impossible to look at The Birth of a Nation without a modern perspective, nor should we. The dialogue that can emerge between a film’s original context and a modern one is often worthwhile - a classic Godard film is still complex, politicised text that nonetheless can feel very different now than it must have done in 1960s France. Many films are political and ideological; the conversations around them can and should be too.

    That’s not to say bad takes aren’t common, people often thinking they have something interesting to see about a classic film without that necessarily being the case. You often see this crop up on social media, as people rip apart a steaming hot take on some classic or the other in a very 2010s, modern identity politics sort of way. These interpretations are often a bit silly, but that’s often down to bad writing - people unfamiliar with cinema history or the broader spectrum of film criticism.

    Ultimately, though, no classic should be immune to fresh perspectives either. Criticism shouldn’t conform to any consensus, and no classic should be untouchable - god knows standards change, and it’s not always possible to accept that as a mere ‘sign of the times’. The key is to just make sure your argument is good and interesting enough if you’re going to toss it out into the world :)