Great (but dashed) Expectations: the lot of every film critic?


I have a confession to make. Well, truth be told, at 36, I probably have quite a few to offload, but my rule is one declaration per blog post, just to keep things nice and simple.

So I’m putting this out there: I’m a man who is never satisfied.

Not in a rude way you understand but whenever I leave the movies I never have that ‘fully full’ of cinematic happiness feeling I used to when I was younger.

Why is this? What’s gone wrong? Is it me that has the problem or is the whole damn filmic world letting me down? Apart from the passage of 20 odd years.

A case in point is Stacey Passon’s recently released Concussion (2013), a film I had massively high hopes for during a recent cinema trip, a mainstream, erotic drama about lesbian characters, written and directed by lesbian film-makers.

From the description of the film on the Odeon’s website is sounded provocative and boundary-pushing, the story of a middle-class lesbian woman who becomes a high-class prostitute for wealthy New York women after she gets a whack on the head.

I have reviewed the finished product here and not in a positive light.

But whose fault is that?

Is it me, my personality and tastes?

Or is it down to the marketing people behind the film’s publicity and the cinema’s own PR machine?

Reading the online blurb and letting my mind get carried away shows that perhaps it was my mistake. I read more into a film based on a brief description and imprinted this on my perception of what another different and individual human being created and put on the big screen.

I was ‘cinematically prejudiced’. I like that phrase; must trademark it and use it in an academic paper at some point.

Stacey Passon never made my movie she made her own and, full credit to her, she has put her work into mainstream cinemas when this would have been a more complicated operation a generation ago.

Since then, a plethora of ‘New Queer Cinema’ (as B. Ruby Rich would call it) has pummelled movie audiences of all persuasions helping, with a shift in political and social changes, to change our attitudes toward representations of gays and lesbians in cinema.

So, society’s expectations on movies are broader than my own narrow view. I am stuck in the past.

No one else watching the film was surprised by what is, essentially, a standard and well crafted relationship-in-crisis drama. But I still wanted to be shocked by the scandalous, enraged by such subject matter, to have my blood boil and heart race at the events being depicted.

I felt the sex scenes were stilted and passionless, but maybe they were also normal, healthy sexual relations. A gay man upset about the lack of raunch in a lesbian film? How incredible!

So what’s the solution, how do I manage this longing for perpetual cinematic excellence?

Here it is: until the day arrives when film-makers around the world are able to intuitively produce movies that are exactly in accordance with what I and I alone specifically want to see, and until I pluck up the courage to become the brilliant and equally intuitive film-maker I know I am in my head, I will walk up to any cinema box-office in the world and anticipate that the film I am about to subject my senses to will be the worst and most miserable artistic effort ever created for the silver screen.

So then I will be content? Maybe, but very probably not.


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