Cinephile Interview IV: Fast Film Reviews

Fast Film Reviews was possibly the first blog I came across after the creation of my own, and the reason I moved from BlogSpot to WordPress. The layout’s nice, the reviews belong in a newspaper, and I anticipate receiving its updates. Its creator, Mark Hobin, has mentioned that he doesn’t like talking about himself……but when there’s this much we talked about, I guess I kind of made him. (He agreed.)

This interview was conducted between November 26th and November 30th.

Recently, you were featured on Amy Moss’s blog, Moviewriting. When asked what your first experience at the movies was, you explained it was a rerelease of Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs. You also elaborated on the experience ever so vividly, as you tend to do with your critiques. When you enter a cinema nowadays, do you ever feel taken by the sight and sound in a similar way?

That’s the reason why I continue to prefer going out to the movies as opposed to watching them at home. It’s always an immersive experience. The Life of Pi is a perfect example of a film that deeply involves the senses. Experiencing Claudio Miranda’s cinematography on a TV screen just isn’t as powerful.

Unless we’re talking about a rundown shack with the nerve to call itself a cinema, we’re in full agreement there. You see a lot of movies in theaters. Sometimes it’s simply because they’re great movies, other times it’s the case of “I saw it so you didn’t have to.” Do you ever wish you had the time to go more often?

Of course I would love if film criticism was my main profession and I could go every day. Alas reviewing movies is but a hobby at this point in my life. I actually consider myself very lucky that I usually get to see two movies a week at the theaters.

Yeah, that’s very lucky!

Moving on: What’s your favorite film quote, and why?

Off the top of my head I’d say:

“Well, I’ve wrestled with reality for 35 years, Doctor, and I’m happy to state I finally won out over it.” as spoken by James Stewart in the movie Harvey.

I simply adore the film, I love James Stewart and it makes me smile.

(chuckles) Jimmy Stewart’s great. Saddens me that Hitchcock refused to work with him after Vertigo‘s (initial) failure.

You once said:

“Film criticism isn’t a science. There are no right and wrong evaluations just opinions. That’s why I never feel guilty when I love something everyone hates or hate something everyone loves.”

You’ve shown this in several of your own reviews. Yet you explain in your review of The Three Stooges (a prime example) that you “generally have a good idea of whether I’m going to like a film before I see it,” from trailers, IMDb, reviews, and often cast interviews. With those in the back of your mind, how on earth are you able to formulate your own, original opinion every single time?

That’s easy. It’s my personal impression and I am beholden to no one. I try to avoid reviews of current films until I’ve written mine. With older films, there is some danger of repeating what’s already been said of course. How many times has someone praised the cinematography of Citizen Kane in a review? I suppose that’s kind of unavoidable.

Box office and the critics sometimes enjoy no real correlation. If nothing else, it’s clear with box office successes like The Twilight Saga and flops like Warrior. Have you ever gone to see a truly TERRIBLE film just to say you were one of the millions who saw it?

Actually The Twilight Saga you mentioned is a perfect example. I always go into a film with an open mind. However I have watched films simply because they were box office hits and not because I had a desire to see them. I think we, as film critics, have a duty to report on movie phenomena. I’ve seen all of Michael Bay’s Transformers films and they keep getting progressively worse. Yet I’ll still be watching when Transformers 4 comes out June 2014.

Another Transformers? Yet another reason to avoid the series. I’d rather see a sequel/prequel to Armageddon (the only film of his I’ve seen and have tolerance for) than see trailers galore for Transformers 4. Besides the obvious, upcoming Bronx Bull, what would you say is the most pointless attempt at a sequel?

That’s an interesting question. Obviously deep down the point of any sequel is to make more money, which has a purpose. However some movies have a definitive end so a sequel is completely unnecessary. Given that criteria, S. Darko, 2009’s sequel to Donnie Darko, would be particularly ridiculous.

I know you’re a fan of The Fifth Element, and you’ve stated sometimes that it’s your favorite. I was researching the Golden Raspberry “Razzie” Awards tonight and I came across something shocking (even to me, who needs neurosurgery to remove that wild romp from my mind): Worst New Star – Chris Tucker for The Fifth Element and Money Talks. What say ye?

I won’t even address how invalid it is that Chris Tucker was nominated as Worst NEW Star in 1997 when he had actually appeared rather famously in Friday, two years prior. Like any award, it is merely an opinion and while the Golden Raspberry Awards are fun, they are just that, an opinion. Stanley Kubrick was nominated as Worst Director for The Shining. If nothing else, it proves that Chris Tucker made an impression.

Friday was from 1995? Gosh… What would you say is the most absurd excuse for a Best Picture (Oscar) winner?

Million Dollar Baby (2004) – If you need the complete opposite of a feel good movie, this is it. Its message of just give up and kill yourself is pretty bleak. The fact that Clint Eastwood has done this “grizzled old man” bit in virtually every movie at least since the early 90s doesn’t help things either.

I don’t think I could agree with you much more on that one. A Beautiful Mind and Kramer vs. Kramer are runners-up for me, and I’ll never understand why everyone thinks Million Dollar Baby is some sort of “ode to anti-sexism.” What would you say SHOULD have won that year (doesn’t necessarily need to be a nominee)?

There were some great nominees that year: Finding Neverland and Ray among them. But if I can choose anything, I’d go with The Incredibles. It wasn’t nominated for the BIG award, but it should have been.

Can’t argue with you on Ray, and unfortunately I haven’t seen Finding Neverland, so I guess I can’t argue there either. I remember loving The Incredibles when it first came out (I was in first grade), but I’ve seen it far too many times since then–mostly not even by choice–and I’ve sort of developed a phobia of it. I guess I can see why you say it should have, though.

While we’re on the topic of the Academy Awards: do you find the BAFTAs more/less reliable?

Do the BAFTAs sometimes honor a better film than the Academy Awards? Sure. In 2006 the BAFTAs voted for Brokeback Mountain rather than the Oscars’ Crash. The previous year BAFTAs named The Aviator Best Film, while the Oscar went to Million Dollar Baby. Both times I think the BAFTAs made the better choice. But I’ll always come back to Oscar. To me no other award has the same mystique and prestige. It is quite simply the most influential award in the entertainment industry.

If only the Oscars would honor (or would have honored) the comedy and horror genres more often…

The interview is wrapping up, so here’s your tenth and final question: Have you ever memorized/attempted to memorize a remarkable speech from the movies (i.e. Michael Douglas’s “Greed is good” from Wall Street, Heath Ledger’s “You wanna know how I got these scars?” from The Dark Knight)?

Yeah Gene Hackman’s inspirational speech to his players before the state finals at the climax of Hoosiers. You know the one. It starts, “Forget about the crowds, the size of the school…” It always gets me no matter how many times I hear it.

You can find Mark on Twitter @Mark_Hobin

Be sure to check out his recent reviews of Big Trouble in Little China, The Impossible, The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, and Holy Motors.


7 thoughts on “Cinephile Interview IV: Fast Film Reviews

  1. Reblogged this on Fast Film Reviews and commented:
    Alexander Diminiano of Cinemaniac Reviews recently interviewed me for his site. I must give him kudos for being one of the most ardent supporters of my personal blog. His comments are always such a joy to read. This was a fun interview. He asked some really good questions. Check it out!

  2. Another great interview, Great to see some love for early pixar as well 🙂 Out of everything my only argument would be that Transformers 2 was way worse than transformers 3, but that’s like saying a dog turd smells worse than a cat turd I suppose

      • When I went to Alcatraz this October, I was about to buy The Rock. Then I realized, “Oh this is Michael Bay, so it might not be worth my money.” I’m still curious about it, but I’d completely forgotten about it, so thanks for reminding me.

        Armageddon was a film I saw when I was eleven years old, and I really enjoyed it. I’ve rewatched it once or twice again since, though, and it’s grown stale.

        I think that trailer wins the award for “Most Extensive WTF Moment.”

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