I watch a lot of movies. The two most recent are ‘Funny Face’ and ‘World War Z’; Hepburn musical versus Zombie Apocalypse. Actually the zombie one was the most life-affirming. Watching craggy Fred Astaire chasing young Audrey was…well, scary.
It’s easy to be critical. Maybe that’s why I like reading bad reviews. Here’s Roger Ebert on ‘Armaggedon’: “No matter what they’re charging to get in, it’s worth more to get out”. Or on ‘B.A.P.S’: “My guess is that African-Americans will be offended by the movie and whites will be embarrassed. The movie will bring us all together in paralysing boredom”. Very funny – unless you’re working in the publicity department.
But it’s remarkable what a bit of shameless editing can salvage. Here’s a few examples of creative marketing:
Mark Kermode on ‘The Most Fertile Man in Ireland‘ (2003)
Actual quote: “Sadly, The Most Fertile Man in Ireland is every bit as hilarious as its title suggests”.
Quote used: “The Most Fertile Man in Ireland is HILARIOUS”.
Andy Dougan on ‘Chasing The Deer’ (1994):
Actual quote: “If this is the best that Scotland can produce, we’re in a sorry state.”
Quote used: “The best that Scotland can produce.”
Philip French on ‘Anthony Page’s 1979 remake of ‘The Lady Vanishes’
Actual quote: “An amiable entertainment and about as necessary as a polystyrene version of the Taj Mahal. Hitchcock’s 1938 comedy/thriller is a near-perfect artefact…attaining a precise balance between suspense and laughter”
Quote used: “The most seductive opera ever written. Impassioned and sultry”.
Context is everything. Lose that and you lose the whole plot. But it doesn’t just happen to the movies. Think about your own life. If you were to pick out a segment, how would it read?
If you’d asked me at the beginning of January, I’d say ‘middling but hopeful. Sad in parts, but ultimately redemptive’.
If I were writing a review of my life based on this week, I’d say ‘Depressing. Lacking direction. Miscast’.
Thankfully, I’m not the best judge.
I think I’m seeing the whole picture: but I’ve only grasped a piece. The bits I want to cut might be the most important. But I won’t know till I get to the (happy) ending. Only then will I get it. And I’ll be amazed to have been a part.