Thus far my evaluations on this site have been resoundingly positive. There’s a reason: I tend to only write about films I like. And while for the most part I don’t intend to change this, I thought I might start sharing some less optimistic thoughts I’ve had about certain films. Of course, I by no means intend to begin writing about whatever blockbuster franchise hits the screen, but I wondered what it might be like to discuss a film that is either widely loved by the mass critical community or the more esoteric cinephilic community.
Consensus can be a powerful engine to drum up support for films or filmmakers rarely seen – the surprise Palme d’Or win for Apichatpong Weerasethakul’s Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives or the unlikely Oscar nod for Joshua Oppenheimer’s The Act of Killing or the inclusion of many great films from cinema’s past and present on the 2012 iteration of the Sight & Sound‘s enormous critics’ poll. And yet, consensus can also create immovable monoliths – works that detractors dare not comment upon for fear of being labeled a contrarian. Do online message boards ever allow negative reviews of Tarantino films? Even when his watery, so-called progressive politics are actually troublesome (Django Unchained)?
Well, in this new occasional column “Au Contraire” I’ll present an alternate viewpoint to the established opinion on any given popular film. My inaugural evaluation is of last year’s Best Picture winner Birdman – a film, that in this writer’s opinion, won far too many awards and garnered undeserved praise. Lest anyone think I’m taking the easy way out by picking an Oscar winner (as that institution carries very little clout for most cinephiles), my next entry is on a film from the seemingly critic-proof Béla Tarr. Let the angry comments begin!