Thursday, June 22, 2006

Inner Turmoil

A movie came through my Netflix queue last week.  It was called The Truce starring John Turturro as an Italian Jew recently freed from Auschwitz in the last days of WWII and trying to make his way home.  Since I'm more than a year behind in my queue, I often get movies that I don't really remember adding or why I wanted to watch them in the first place.  This is one of them, although I assume that it had something to do with my belief that Turturro is one of the most under-appreciated actors working today.  He has the same ability to completely disappear into a role as Johnny Depp, except without the pretty-boy good looks.

Anyway, I watched the movie, returned it, and gave it a four star rating (out of five).  There is only one problem.  I don't think it was that good.

Turturro was excellent, as always, but the story was kind of meandering and melodramatic.  OK, but not great.  But, it really got me thinking about how hard it it to criticize a movie about the Holocaust.

I mean, of course, on some levels it is a story that can never be told enough.  It is a story that should be told as often and in as many ways as possible, as a societal warning.  But the film fan in me says that just because a subject is important, that doesn't automatically make the movie good.

Anyway, it does seem a little silly having an extended argument with myself over whether to give a movie 3 or 4 stars, but my Netflix ratings are something that I take fairly seriously.  I think that their recommendation algorithms are fantastic, but they're precipitated on accurate ratings by me.  It is extremely rare that I disagree with Netflix by more than a star value about a movie (Although, I must admit I always do take some pleasure when I don't like a movie that Netflix thinks that I should.  It kind of takes the pain away from watching a bad movie.)  There have been many occasions where I thought that a movie looked good, but Netflix said I wouldn't like it, and I watched it anyway, and then feel foolish when, of course, I don't.

So, do I give an accurate rating to a movie based on its quality, or let myself be swayed by the subject?  Or, maybe I should just get a life and stop worrying about trifles like this . . .


Blogger Adam said...

I strongly believe that one's opinion of the movie ought to be solely based on the movie's inherent quality and not the subject matter. If I were black, but didn't like Spike Lee's "Do the Right Thing," should I be ashamed that I didn't think it was good? Hell no. (for the record though, I actually did like that one). It's kind of like how no one wants to talk poorly about someone who has died, no matter what kind of person they were. That's crap, I say! Call a spade a spade! It is for this reason, for example, that I feel no remorse in recalling Bear Bryant's drunkenness and cheating tendencies. Anyway, you get the idea. Holocaust be damned, if the movie wasn't that good, don't rate it highly.

6/22/2006 03:49:00 PM  
Anonymous Missy said...

Have you seen Hostel, Wiley? I'd be interested to know your opinion on it, without influencing first ;)

6/23/2006 03:23:00 PM  
Blogger wiley said...

Adam, normally I feel the same way, but there's just something about the Holocaust that make even me feel uneasy.

Missy, no I have not seen Hostel, and I am kind of cautious to. I really hated Cabin Fever (the director's previous movie) with a pretty severe passion, even though most of my friends liked/loved it. And while I don't normally have a problem with excessive violence in a movie, I don't like violence whose only point is to shock you by its depravity, which seems to be the case from what I've seen and read about Hostel. I don't know though, I might add it to my queue at some point.

6/23/2006 04:18:00 PM  

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