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Culture Forum

  1. 18 Apr '13 11:56 / 7 edits
    I rarely read or listen to critics


    Source : scacchipazzo 'It pains us to admit it' thread

    I don't know whether this is just because scacchipazzo happens not to read critics, and prefers his own judgement. However, a number of posters on this site have previously mentioned they don't bother to read critics as they mostly find their opinions worthless.

    As I mentioned before in this thread, I recently saw an excellent film called The Hunt (semi-spoiler alert), about a man accused of being a paedophile. After I had seen the film, I trawled the web for reviews. We are talking, I should say, of people paid to write criticism professionally.

    Mostly they were extremely positive, like my impression, but some professional critics made the following negative comments:

    1 The film was misogynistic, as it was primarily the women who were 'duped' into believing that the man might be a paedophile, and their behaviour is shown in a biased and negative light.

    2 The film was unbelievable, as the acccusations by the child concerned which start the whole process were unprompted, and it was impossible to believe a young girl (e.g. about 5-6) would make, and in particular continue to stand by, such allegations without outside influence.

    3 Evidence that the film was misogynistic included the fact that the lead character's dog's name was Fanny.

    To which I make the following comments:

    1 In the film, just as many, if not more, men are 'duped' as women. The men, indeed, act very much more badly than the women.

    2 I have no idea whether 5-6 year old girls would make such allegations unprompted. However, there are two absolutely pivotal scenes in the film where adults are shown (unintentionally) effectively forcing the child to repeat these allegations. One is a man, the other is a woman.

    3 The film is in Danish.

    Which leads me to wonder:

    1 Did these critics actually watch the film?

    2 If they did, what makes them think they deserve to be paid for this level of insight?

    Interestingly, I noted that one piece of negative criticism came out some time after the main round (which had been pretty much exclusively positive). I was left with the distinct impression that the publication had decided that another article praising the film wouldn't be very 'copy worthy' and so went with a negative one just to be contraversial.

    So, what is your experience of critics? Do you value their opinions and, if so, which ones and why?
  2. 18 Apr '13 22:34 / 1 edit
    Originally posted by Rank outsider
    I rarely read or listen to critics


    Source : scacchipazzo 'It pains us to admit it' thread

    I don't know whether this is just because scacchipazzo happens not to read critics, and prefers his own judgement. However, a number of posters on this site have previously mentioned they don't bother to read critics as they mostly find their experience of critics? Do you value their opinions and, if so, which ones and why?
    I basically stopped listening to critics after the "The Cook, The Thief, His Wife & Her Lover" was billed as a must see movie full of nuance, excellent writing, photography and billed it as an "art" film(like other films are toilet paper). The movie is horrific, depressing, ghoulish, displays the basest of human instincts as if these were worthwhile characteristics. Around that same time Il Postino came out and got terrible reviews from the same critic. Il Postino is a wonderful film, well written, photographed, funny, interesting and extols humanity's better values. Go figure.

    More recently I attended a revival of an opera which had its world premiere in Dallas in 1988, The Aspern Papers. I remember the original reviews. They gushed over Dominic Argento's compositional skill, melodiousness and pretty much called the work a masterwork. It went on to play perhaps in two other opera houses in the world. As if it were indeed a must revive work they brought it back. I am a season ticket holder so having already paid I decided to give it a chance. The "pre-review" gushed about the staging, colorfulness, singing, larger than life drama. Reality: Dull, melodies impossible to follow(post review admits you cannot walk away whistling any tunes, but blames the listeners simplicity for it instead of the composer), dark, depressing, unbelievably stupid libretto, horrible costumes, dreary. Competently composed, but certainly no masterpiece. Opera was half empty(surprise) and remained empty although it has one more night to bomb even worse. I admit I was curious about the review after opening night. Almost identical to the 1988 review. Terrible. Far off the mark.

    I'd rather form my own opinion. Music critics are especially galling and over-criticize nuances appearing only in their heads, tear down singers, instrumentalists and conductors. I have seldom read a review I agreed with nor have I found bad reviews to be accurate nor good ones to be on the money either. About the only truly accurate critics I know of from history were Breitkhoff & Hartell in Vienna and Sozogno and Riccordi in Milan. Boy they knew music well and rarely ever, if ever published operas that did not go on to become huge hits!
  3. Subscriber FMF
    a.k.a. John W Booth
    18 Apr '13 23:51
    When I lived in Japan I was almost completely sealed off from music critics because I did not have access to the internet until quite late on and I could rarely be bothered to buy imported magazines. Meanwhile, being in Japan, I'd never [and still haven't since] had access to such a wide range of music. It was interesting to spend a month in the summer each year in the U.K. and see how my 'in-a-vacuum' opinions/reactions measured up against what had been oozing from axles of the review machinery, and sometimes marvel at how much fluff, hype, gossip and tabloid-horse-race stuff was to be found in the public domain, subtly/clumsily/egregiously interwoven with what was supposedly professional reviewing of the musical content of releases.
  4. 20 Apr '13 12:24
    Originally posted by FMF
    When I lived in Japan I was almost completely sealed off from music critics because I did not have access to the internet until quite late on and I could rarely be bothered to buy imported magazines. Meanwhile, being in Japan, I'd never [and still haven't since] had access to such a wide range of music. It was interesting to spend a month in the summer each year ...[text shortened]... terwoven with what was supposedly professional reviewing of the musical content of releases.
    How about the overall criticism of Verdi? Invariably he gets cast as vulgar and unpolished. Verdi! Creator of so many masterworks. If Verdi was only known for Otello he would be immortal. Verdi also influenced greatness in others with the librettist of Otello, Arrigo Boito writing two masterworks in the libretti of Otello and Falstaff. I just could never get over the critics' beef against Verdi. Since then I view critics with great disdain.
  5. Subscriber FMF
    a.k.a. John W Booth
    20 Apr '13 14:47
    Originally posted by scacchipazzo
    How about the overall criticism of Verdi?
    It was shocking.