August 5th, 2015
Either no movie or book in the last few years has been good, or I’m a picky critic. I strongly suspect it’s the second.
I have worked at a movie theater for the last nine-to-ten months. I have been a reader for as long as I can remember. My job allows me unlimited, free movies. The local library allows me unlimited, free books. I’ve read hundred of books. I’ve seen more movies in the last ten months than in my entire lifetime… of nineteen years. Don’t judge me, that’s a long time in my eyes.
Anyway, the point is this: I have yet to walk out of a movie or finish reading a book and gone “wow, that was incredible and I had an amazing time.” And until last week, I thought it was the fault of the directors, the actors, the script, the narrative, the characters, the pacing. To a point, maybe it was. I wasn’t the only one saying those things. But also… Maybe I’m just really snooty and snobbish and can’t appreciate a good time movie or book for what it is.
I won’t lie, I’m a pessimist. I’m my worst critic. But I never considered I might be others’ worst critic as well. For example, I saw Ant-Man the day before it came out. I hated it, with a capital HATE. I thought it was cliché and predictable and overdone. I gave it a horrible rating. But everyone else around me thought it was amazing. Then I saw Pixels, and gave it a worse rating. Later, someone I knew conveyed how they and another close relative were marveling at how I don’t enjoy anything. And they called me snobbish. That hurt.
In my mind, I was only looking past the CGI and fancy renderings to the stories, characters and acting. The script, the deeper nuances. I enjoy thinking, I enjoy deeper meanings I have to search hard for. To be handed everything in an obvious manner without much left to my imagination irritates me. However, feeling like that leaves me constantly irritated, because it’s a rare movie that does that. In my honest opinion.
So Sunday night I saw Paper Towns, vowing to take it easy on the movie, not look too hard for anything hidden deep, deep down, and appreciate it for what it was. And you know what? I really, really enjoyed it. Deep deep down in myself, I’m a huge romantic. I’m also a realist. The movie took both of those traits, mixed them together and the result was a movie I would totally go watch again. It is fun, letting go of your reservations and skepticism to enjoy a story.
When I think of my own creative endeavors, I know my number one goal is to entertain people. One of my lower goals is make people think, but if I think about how I’d feel if people hated my work, it hurts. Movies and books are written to be enjoyed. Yes, proper techniques exist, but what good is technique if the story is horrible? No one wants to read or watch a story about an old sock and its journey of decay. You can judge and critique a movie without canceling out the light-hearted, fun bits. Or even the serious bits that aren’t as serious as you wanted them to be.
Tomorrow I will take my little sister to see the Shaun the Sheep movie.
I’ll try—I’ll really try; hard—my hardest not to be such a picky critic.
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