Sunday, August 30, 2015

The Problem with Movie Reviews

I read movie reviews not to find out if a movie is good or bad (I'll be the judge of that, thank you) but to see if a movie generates enough interest for me to actually watch it. Also included in movie reviews these days is an assessment of how the film delivers on racial and gender issues. Too many white people? It will be noted. Problematic treatment of women? Whether they're being sexualized as "the whore" or marginalized as "the girlfriend," this too will be noted.

These things are, apparently, crucial a certain audience's ability to enjoy the film. Which brings me to this review of Z for Zachariah, which almost avoids that stuff before dropping it like a deuce at the end.

Z for Zachariah could have benefitted from a deeper plunge into the ways race and gender relate to faith.

I haven't seen the movie, so I don't know...maybe a deeper plunge into those issues would have improved it.

Maybe a deeper plunge would have proved to be a distraction. Watch the trailer below. Would a deeper exploration of race and gender make this movie more interesting to you?

Meh. Seriously. Just because Chiwetel Ejiofor is in it doesn't mean it's 7 Years a Slave. Ejiofor is a fine actor and a bonafide leading man. For him, talent not ethnicity should win out. Surely not every performance needs to become an opportunity to talk about race.

Still, this kind of thing in the commentary world may be waning. Not completely, I fear, but there was a time I think when a piece like this wouldn't have waited until the last paragraph to discuss the "deeper plunge" into racial and gender issues. It would have been front and center, in the first sentence under a piece titled "Z for Zachariah's Race Problem."

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