Just watched Harry Potter and I’m not sure how I feel about it yet. I think I like it. But I admire it more than I actually like it. Like, it was really well crafted, has lots of cool shots, I like how they frequently have stuff going on in the background, but somehow the whole seems less than the sum of its parts.
Anyway, it makes me think about film criticism because it seems like the vast majority of critics love the 3rd movie way more than the first 2. Ebert is among the only exceptions. I’m just not sure why the critics feel this way. Personally, I liked the 2nd movie better. It’s not complex, but there’s a sense of wonder to it, interesting little twists, and fortune cookie wisdom. What I think is, critics watch so many movies that they value movies that are different, that show more complexity and ambiguity. That’s really important to them.
Actually, pastor made a good point in his sermon today. He was saying how in the 80s, there was a strong sense of good and evil. With the Olympics, there was a subtext of bad guys (athletes from Communist countries) vs. good guys (Western democracy), kind of depicted in Miracle. In movies and in TV shows there was a strong clear line between the good and the bad.
Nowadays, critics especially but people in general seem to value ambiguity, especially moral ambiguity. That’s somehow more compelling or entertaining than black and white moral lines. He mentioned the X-Files as a typical modern show, where it’s not at all clear who is good, who is bad. Lots of shows have the same kind of ambiguity. Like the Sopranos. The Shield. 24 even. Moral ambiguity is critically praised.
I dunno, I feel the same way also sometimes, valuing complexity when it comes to character. I like how the X-Men movies show different mutant responses to persecution. What I wish was that they showed a little more complexity on the human side. Singer and his whole gay subtext thing is fine, but it’s like it’s so strong that he makes it impossible for a human against the mutants to be anything but evil. I wish there were a human character that was against the mutants because he realized that power corrupts, so humans depending on the good will of mutants like Professor X would be foolish – the natural tendency of those with unchecked power is to abuse it, not be benevolent. So the survival of humans naturally depends on humans checking the power of mutants. That would be more complex and interesting to me than all the humans just having blind fear of mutants. But that doesn’t fit with the gay subtext so it will never happen.
Anyway, yeah, moral complexity interests me also. The danger, as our pastor pointed out, is in valuing moral ambiguity to the point of saying there is no right and wrong at all. In the 80s we probably laid things out too simply in terms of black and white; real life is more complicated than that. But the fact remains that there is a right and wrong, so it’s a little dangerous to value moral complexity too much, I think. I dunno.