One great movie will still be shown to audiences this year – if the studio gives them the time

At Slate Annual Film clubFor 2022, film critic Dana Stevens emails fellow critics–Bilge Ibiri, Beatriz Loaiza, and David Sims–about the film year. Read the first entry here.

Hello again,

Well, let’s start with the last question first. Dana, when I first saw the Daniels family Everything is everywhere at once– before it opened, as I was making Ke Huy Quan Themes for New YorK Journal – I had no idea if it was going to be a hit. I knew I loved him, but I wondered if his central storytelling maneuver would appeal to mainstream audiences. The maneuver, of course, is said to be the fact that at a certain point in the middle of the movie, you realize you have no idea what’s going on.

Maybe I’m overestimating it. You are an act You know one thing going, you’re led on a journey by filmmakers who know what they’re doing. The Daniels family understands that a complicated story doesn’t have to mean complicated feelings. They’ve got you in the palm of their hands, even as they throw multiverse after multiverse at you, cutting wildly between different timelines, genres, and iterations of characters and letting their movie go a little crazy. and it was gratifying to see that the masses were willing to follow them, proving the not too old adage or that important thing that you can confuse the masses so long as you do it with confidence and formal finesse. There is a great tradition of this in cinema, practiced by people as different as Luis Bunuel, Alain Resnais, Claire Denis and Christopher Nolan. (2023 double feature idea: Hiroshima mon amour And the Oppenheimer.)

What does he explain EEAAOsuccess? We can’t just say it was a good movie, because a lot of good movies don’t get seen. I know the topic of immigration and what it is can resonate with a lot of people, myself included, but you definitely don’t need to have that experience to appreciate the movie. Or maybe the success of the picture is evidence of this Avengers: Endgame The Russo Brothers (who produced EEAAO) Actually you have some kind of magic touch. But again, the king of Rhosus gray man This year it was weak. (Netflix would definitely claim some obscure billion-hour-watching metric to tell me that gray man is a success, but I have yet to meet a non-critical person who remembers watching this movie.)

Or maybe it was the A24 machine, which looks pretty good in this whole marketing thing. (One of the awards season releases, Whaleis currently doing very well in limited release, despite largely mixed reviews — and this isn’t exactly a movie that screams at the box office. EEAAO In theaters it certainly helped, prompting people who might have waited two weeks for it to get to the live stream to go and enjoy it on the big screen in attendance (Boo, hiss) other humans. As a result, the film had an actual footprint. has become Thing, instead of another disposable piece of digital trash, I clicked while folding laundry and then promptly forgot. Such as gray man.

This time last year, I was very optimistic about the future of movies in theaters, and I still am. But I worry that we’ve ended up in a situation where it’s precisely the smaller films that need time to build an audience that have almost no margin for error. These are the releases that end up rushing out of theaters if they don’t hit it big in a weekend. One of my favorite films of 2022 is Chadian director Mohamed Salih Haroun Lingui, Sacred Links– a suspenseful drama about a single mother and her daughter trying to deal with a girl’s pregnancy – perhaps providing a sad example of that. Haroun’s work is intimate and immersive, with subtle sound design and wide shots that often frame characters against their environment, skillfully conveying the social tension at the heart of the picture. It’s a movie that totally impresses you in the theater. But on the small screen, a movie like this loses some of its visual and sound scale gravity.

I saw Languages At the New York Film Forum one evening after seeing something else in action. (I couldn’t remember what that other movie was, so I just looked it up: It was a Kenneth Branagh remake Death on the Nile, 70 mm check. I actually didn’t mind this flick – but not every theatrical release is memorable.) The audience was small, about three or four people in all. But the movie just knocked my head off my shoulders. Moby release Languages I played maybe three full weeks at Film Forum, and I have a hard time imagining it ever got much of a chance anywhere else across the country. In better times, this image becomes an artistic phenomenon.

A woman wearing a headscarf sits in a doorway in a still of Lingui, Sacred Links.
Lingui, Sacred Links.

Now, to be fair, Languages It’s a great movie by any measure, and I’m sure if you watch it at home in appropriate conditions, it can still be effective. But I was told that live streaming and video on demand would open up the world of cinema to everyone! More people will see and appreciate these films than ever before! That this was the great democratization of the medium! Well, where the hell are these people? I don’t blame the fans for skipping it Languages. In their defense, they don’t actually know the movie exists. Your phone will not show reviews of a relatively obscure African movie when you sign in for the day’s news. Even people who may be interested in a movie like Languages You most likely won’t hear about it. Because increasingly, the ways we once explored about movies — other than blockbusters — are being closed off. I don’t know what the solution is.

Of course, I could have already done my part and reviewed it Languages, and perhaps it should be, albeit late. (It’s already gotten plenty of rave reviews in a variety of publications, and currently has a 96 percent “fresh” rating on the Tomatometer.) But I already had a board full of to-dos at the time, including a review of another small scale film in foreign was Also He played Forum about this period: Belgian director Laura Wandel’s incredibly well-acted and incredibly well-acted schoolyard bullying drama. Stadium, which is basically a 72-minute panic attack. (This one has a Tomatometer rating of 100 percent, from 63 reviews, though for some reason it’s not mine.)

I’m raging here on this issue of what gets reviewed and how because I’m kind of obsessed with it professionally. Forgive me for turning the camera on myself here, but we’re critics so we might as well discuss this. My life seems to be divided between larger films that I am expected to write about, and smaller ones Wants to write about. Now, I’m lucky because I love a lot of big studio movies, like symbol picture And the Top Gun: Maverick and, um, Express train, so it’s not exactly a chore for me to deal with blockbusters. And I’m also very fortunate to be working alongside our friends Alison Wilmore and Angelica Jade Bastin, who are both excellent critics in their own right. This allows us to spread out a little more than many other outlets and cover more headlines, and our editors are very good at sending us in directions that align with our interests and tastes. But there is no way we can cover everything, or even a fraction of everything.

I’m curious though how others approach this question of what to write about, especially in an era when so much is being released on so many platforms. One of the ironies of criticism in our hyper-fragmented digital age is that a small movie review gets only hearts from eyes, but truly Eyeballs – actually can motivate more people to watch the movie in question than a review of a blockbuster movie that gets more readers but doesn’t move the needle one bit for the movie in question. Of course, we’re not supposed to worry about traffic – but we do. And while I didn’t buy much into the Consumer Reports school of film criticism, I get a little excited when I hear from someone that my review Athens or Morena or Room number 6 Make them watch this movie. Does this just make me cliche hungry for confirmation? Should we worry about whether our reviews make people watch these movies? I know a lot of critical friends who would say we shouldn’t. But if not, why are we even here?



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