Thursday, August 05, 2010

The New Yorker Review of "Get Low": Make It Like I Would Have!

I've not yet seen Get Low, so I can't say if the New Yorker review is fair or unfair. However, there is one part that I completely reject:
The funeral is a lively affair, yet it signals the demise of the movie. There is a carnival air, with food being grilled and fiddle music played, but Felix, largely in closeup, takes the microphone and confesses to an ancient sin. He is wholly in earnest, of course, no more likely to fool us than if he were sitting on Oprah’s sofa. Had I been in that crowd, I would have been tempted to shout, Don’t tell us, old man! Keep your mystery, and your land, to yourself! Duvall could have done it; imagine him bending down to whisper his guilt into Spacek’s ear, with Murray close by, eavesdropping, and the rest of us shut out. Or imagine if Felix had died beforehand, leaving his baffled mourners to do the whispering. “Get Low” is deftly played, and it rarely mislays its ambling charm, but what a forbidding fable it could have been if the truth about Felix Bush, rather than emerging into sunlight, had slunk back into the woods.
This form of criticism--the movie would have been better had they made the movie I would have made--is common, but totally invalid. It's not very surprising that a critic thinks he would like the movie he made better than the one somebody else made. This is especially true when the critic doesn't actually have to make it. Comparing an ideal to something that exists is not a fair fight. So let's stick with critiquing what was actually filmed rather than what might have been filmed, shall we?

No comments: