Why do Good Movies Fail to Get the Notice they Deserve?
I remember the first time I took a film class in the University of California at Los Angeles. I really did not know what to expect. When I scanned the room, there were all sorts of pretentious looking people. These are people with beards and all sorts of funny hats. People seemed like they were going out of their way to look artistic, different and eccentric.
Well, it turns out that these are actually the most conform people on the planet, because they all talk about the same thing, they eat the same foods, they smoke the same drugs. In other words, they did the same things and they were really preoccupied with a certain loop. It feels that they have to think a certain way, talk a certain way, hangout with certain people, otherwise they're not going to be as credible as they could be as far being "genuine artists" are concerned.
As you can well imagine, this did not rub me right way. I thought that this was quite an oxymoron, with the heavy emphasis on the word moron. I did not want to have any part of that. Although unfortunately, graduating with a film degree from the University of California at Los Angeles, that stand to relegate you to a certain stratum of the population that it tends to be particularly afflicted with a heavy percentage of the exact kind of people I just described. It was hell to say the least.
So, I switched fields and got into writing. I just couldn't stand another pretentious film-maker. Sure, I'm pretentious at some level or the other. I'm not exactly excepting myself from the situation but let's face it! You can only smell your vomit for so long, until you cannot tolerate everybody else's vomit. It gets old quickly. Call me a hypocrite all you want but I just needed to get out.
I raise this with you because the whole idea, movie criticism, both in Western Europe, North America and other developed markets tend to be the product of certain expectations. I wish I could tell you that the people setting these expectations are regular people like you and me, they're not. They form a particular small, narrow, cultural elite. Maybe they work at certain magazines or maybe they're part of a studio or some sorts of local art scene. Whatever the case may be, this is a fairly small community in terms of actual number of people and they actually communicate a lot with each other. It's very easy to develop some sorts of artistic group thing.
Now, this is very dangerous because one of these community members said that something is good, what do you think would happen? That's right! People would think this person is an esteemed and credible and legitimate member of the group, they will give the person the benefit of the doubt. Everybody gets lazy, people don't even watch the movie and they just take the person's word for it. This is how, believe it or not, movies are dub "good, significant or important" in the world of global cinema and cinematic criticism.
It doesn't need a genius to realize that there's wrong with this model. What if those credible people are wrong? What if they're bias? What if somebody slip them a few thousand dollars? Do you see where I'm coming from? There's just so many things that could go wrong. There's just so many things that may not fall into place, but these happens all the time. This is why I would say, the whole idea of good movies failing to get the notice that they deserve. It's one question that you need to address with your eyes wide open.
In other words, you have to be very critical. You can't assume too much. You can just say, "How do I know that this is really a good movie? How do I know that this really failed? How do I know if this is not really getting the attention that it deserves?" This way, you have developed a healthy level of skepticism so you don't get suck into that vortex of incestuous artistic criticism that really involves only a small group of people scattered in a few spots all over the planet. You don't have to play the game at that point.
Do I believe that some movies failed to get the movies that they deserve? Absolutely! Do I believe that this happens all the time? Do I believe that the system is fundamentally flawed, because this doesn't happen, these artistic movies don't get the success they otherwise deserve? I'm not so sure, because I understand how criticism works; how the intelligentsia behind movie reviews truly operate, and given these internal mechanisms, I'm not the one to jump the gun. I'm not the one to automatically assume that just because somebody, somewhere who has managed to attract some sorts of following thinks that a movie is significant or is some sort of cultural landmark that have to somehow, some way sits up and pay attention. I'm not quite there yet, so should you.