How Kerry Conran Saw Hollywood’s Future – And Then Got Left Behind by Olly Richards at The Telegraph
I loved Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow – I’ve always been sad it didn’t do better, but I didn’t realize the directors hadn’t really done anything since.
While Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow is far from perfect, with some stiff line readings and uneven plotting, there’s much in it that is wonderful. Visually, it’s never dull, throwing up military bases in the sky, elephants that fit in the palm of your hand, dog fights through the streets of New York. Any faults are a result of too many ideas, not too few. It received mixed reviews, but some raves, notably from the late critic Roger Ebert, who said the film, “reminded me of how I felt the first time I saw Raiders of the Lost Ark. It’s like a film that escaped from the imagination directly onto the screen”.
But a few great reviews don’t make a difference if your numbers are bad, and Sky Captain’s were very bad. Cinemagoers, perhaps put off by its black and white visuals or comic-strip tone, stayed away: the film made just $15.5 million on its opening weekend. This would have been fantastic if the film had used the tiny budget for which the brothers had originally asked, but the reported cost of $70 million made its eventual worldwide takings of $58 million a catastrophe.
The Next Transition: The Bright But Uncertain Future of Film Criticism by Daniel Carlson at Movie Mezzanine
I believe this IS the best kind of film criticism, but Daniel appears to expect it to be financially viable and I think that’s overly optimistic. Individual writers are doing this (like the ones he mentions) but only as part of much larger publications or in very non-mainstream publications like Film Comment. So in one way, this kind of criticism already exists, but in another way, I’m not sure it will ever exist in the kind of pervasive way we’d like.
Somewhat related, mostly by virtue of being about film criticism, but also relevant in this projected move toward more essayistic criticism, Sam Adams at Indiewire discusses whether film critics should write in the first person.
Some of the best film criticism being published today follows suit—that is, eschewing the typical constraints of a review and instead opting for the potentially much more rewarding, all-encompassing criticism modeled by the best TV reviewers. Think of Wesley Morris’s stellar essays on Let’s Be Cops and Ted 2, both of which placed the films in the broader context of the political struggles of the moment and demonstrated how films can show us who we are, who we want to be, and who we wish we weren’t. Or David Ehrlich’s critical (in every sense) assessment of Me and Earl and the Dying Girl, which made deft arguments about the film’s use of perspective and style, interwoven with his own experience of caring for a loved one in pain. Or Jessica Ritchey’s examination of gender politics and Jurassic World. Or Matt Zoller Seitz’s piece about the contrast between Only Lovers Left Alive and our hyperactive, inattentive age. Or Tasha Robinson’s look at Disney’s latest iteration of Cinderella and its structural sexism. These and many other such pieces aren’t reviews as we’re used to thinking of them, but powerful works of criticism that look at any and all aspects of a movie and examine their artistic meaning and cultural impact.
This is the future of film criticism: deep, meaningful essays that aren’t afraid of spoilers and that blend aesthetic investigations with social reflections.