Here’s a fact: I didn’t care for the new Patty Jenkins film, Wonder Woman 1984, at all.
Here’s another fact: My good friend and film critic colleague, Max Foizey, happened to like it.
Today, we are still friends. There is zero hatred between us, outside of an epic disagreement on Rian Johnson’s Looper that lingers. Haha, I kid. Disagreement should merely be the beginning of the friendship. A bond forged by a mutual adoration of film’s sweetest wonders, and a shared equity in its darkest impacts.
For some reason, that unwritten rule-always respect your fellow human’s opinion of film-is being shredded this week after the release of the DCEU’s latest offering. One critic will announce that he/she/they doesn’t like the film. Before five minutes can pass, another critic blasts the former for their take on a movie. Just a simple opinion on a piece of art being blown up for no true gain.
What do the attackers get out of it: Supreme acknowledgement that they are overly confident in their own palette, or an outside issue barging its way in? One could say a split. I have never held a grudge against Matt Neglia, founder of Next Best Picture and the weekly podcast attached to the site, for disagreeing on a particular film.
A couple of weeks ago, Neglia wasn’t a big fan of the new George Clooney film, The Midnight Sky. I was quite fond of the Netflix film, but that didn’t make me launch a Twitter missile at Matt’s tent. Nope. I found what Clooney was planting deep inside of a very sad space movie. Perhaps a spot that others either didn’t find, or much approve of. That’s film for you in its palest form: An endless debate!
Every week, at least once or twice a day, a few film critic friends and myself engage in a group text. We share initial thoughts on a new film, a look back at an older film, or just inside industry banter. There are hot takes and colorful exchanges, but zero hate. None at all. Just friends talking about the movies.
Forget the hate. Leave it out of the movies, please. Eliminate it by keeping it locked away, far away from our mutual interests/professions. Most of us are doing this for the love of the game, putting our views of a movie on a website or printed newspaper/magazine, with the hopes of one thing: catharsis. By putting it all down on paper, or spoken into a microphone, there’s a gentle yet assured release of that movie from the pending section in our brains. A decision is made, and that’s what it is. The majority of our words are filled in by us, not an editor demand. We decide to look a lot closer than usual.
I just don’t need to see disrespect or worse, hate, come out of that collective experience. Instead, as in most life solutions, we should discuss and find new meanings in each other’s opinions. Get fired up by someone’s alternative view, don’t wish to take out their legs. The way writers grow is by reading each other’s work. I don’t think all film critics read a lot of each others reviews (especially before their writing process finishes), but a respect is there. It’s there, right?
I didn’t go into WW84 trying to dislike it, or wanting to see the Gal Gadot bullet train crash. If there is one good thing about the sequel, it’s Wonder Woman herself. Gadot does her best with the entire movie on her back, or whatever is actually worth remembering. In the end, I was very disappointed, let down in a tough way after the enjoyable and engrossing original.
But that’s me. Other critics see it a different way. As my dad once said, it’s like looking at a painting: we all get something different out of it. Our opinions are unique and should be celebrated or lifted up, instead of bombarded or hated.
2020 has been bad enough. It doesn’t need to end with film critics tearing each other down. Remember the lesson. More love, less hate. More conversation, less first impressions with too much trust. More compassion, less judgement.
Thanks for reading and have a great final week of the year. (covers mic, thank GOODNESS!)