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The discussion of "Good Will Hunting" should certainly remind us that
quality is in the eye of the beholder of a film.  Or maybe I should say in
the heart.  I am likely to resent or be perplexed by praise heaped on a
particular film if that film failed to move me significantly.  If, on the
other hand, I got caught up in a film significantly as I viewed it, if it
touched my heart, I'm naturally going to be incredulous when some critic or
reviewer dismisses the film as fluff or attacks the screenplay as tripe.
Or praises some film that I regard as absolute detritus.  But why should I
fret about the fact that a film that didn't move me proved highly popular?
I've got my favorites to fall back on.  I may even take pleasure in the
thought that I'm wired differently from the average moviegoer.  The thrill
is in the hunt for those films that do move me.  I've just completed a unit
on "Burnt by the Sun" in a contemporary fiction and film course that I
teach.  We tracked down reviews to try to get a sense of the variety of
opinions that might exist about a film as politically charged as that one
is.  One of the commentators said he was bored by the first two-thirds of
the film.  So was the guy who sat in front of me the second time I saw the
film at the theater. (He fell asleep).  Intellectually, a case can be made,
perhaps, that the film is flawed in this regard.  All I know is that I was
totally caught up in the tension generated by Mitya's presence, and I
assume that Mikhalkov was trying to create exactly that effect in the first
two-thirds of the film.  A thousand critics couldn't convince me that that
segment of the film is boring, or that "Burnt by the Sun" isn't a great
film.  I know there must be many who feel the same way about "Good Will
Hunting."  But (to quote Annie Hall defending her reading matter when Alvie
starts critiquing her new life style), "I like to get opposing points of
view."  Not a bad reason to subscribe to SCREEN-L, when you think about it.
 Ciao.  Dan.
 
Dan Gribbin
Ferrum College
Ferrum, VA
 
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