Aaron, Kat and Jeff – Movie Critic Interviews

Thursday, September 24, 2009 at 1:51 am

Our latest edition of Critical Juncture features a first for us. Instead of interviewing just one movie critic, we’ll be going for a trifecta courtesy of the fine folks over at They Shoot Actors, Don’t They?. This Toronto-based group of friends are made up of Aaron, Kat (or Katarina, if you prefer), and Jeff, and they’re always eager to post their opinons on film and engage in some good-natured cinematic debate.

Jeff works in the arts, by the way, and you can also enjoy his other blogs such as Kung Fu Fridays and A Theatre Too Far. Kat is a film nut who counts movies and snacks among her favorite things on the planet. She also enjoys listening to music from Japanther and Springsteen, and she’s been known to break open a copy of The Crying of Lot 49 from time to time. Finally, Aaron is a scarf-wearing librarian who also keeps a blog known as Biometrics Today. Now that we’ve got the introductions out of the way, let’s see what our new friends from north of the border have to say for themselves.

Only Good Movies: What’s the first movie that you remember seeing?
Aaron: I’m sure there were plenty before that, but my first movie I can recall seeing in a theatre is Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom. It terrified me.
Kat: It may not have been my first movie, but my earliest memory of being in a movie theatre was for a 1985 John Boorman film called The Emerald Forest. Images from it haunted me for years, but it wasn’t until “the internet” that I was able to finally figure out what the film actually was.
Jeff: I couldn’t tell you, actually. I have strong memories of seeing a Star Wars/Empire… double bill, and Snow White and the Seven Dwarves at an early age but an even stronger memory of seeing a cardboard promo display for Superman III in a theatre lobby and wanting to see it so badly. I was really into Richard Pryor at 4 years old.

OGM: What’s the most recent movie you’ve seen?
Aaron: Ong Bak 2.
Kat: Ong Bak 2, the final Midnight Madness film at TIFF.
Jeff: The new straight to video animated flic, Superman/Batman: Public Enemies. I don’t even really like Superman. I hope he doesn’t become a recurring theme as I answer more of these questions.

OGM: Is there a particular film which you feel is criminally underrated?
Aaron: I think almost everyone who has seen it rates it quite highly, but John Paizs’ Crimewave is criminally under-seen, so I think it fits the bill as an answer here.
Kat: I agree with Aaron that John Paizs’ Crime Wave is the one of the most criminally under-seen films ever. As for underrated, I have to say Hudson Hawk. Everyone pans it, but it’s actually great.
Jeff: Superman IV: The Quest for Peace. I mean… I agree completely with Kat and Aaron on John Paizs’ Crime Wave. It’s one of my absolute favourite films of all time, and I wish there were more films being made with the passion and originality that that film’s full of. Other than that, though, I think that Antonia Bird’s Ravenous is an absolutely spectacular genre film that disappeared from theatres far too quickly and, while it has its fans, hasn’t reached the cult status that it deserves. What makes it even more of a marvel is that Bird was a last minute replacement after the film’s original director was fired or quit a few days into shooting.

OGM: Which director do you feel has turned out the best overall body of work?
Aaron: He has some lame movies under his belt, but he also has some of the best + I am always excited to see what Martin Scorsese does.
Kat: Werner Herzog is all hits and no misses, as far as I’m concerned. He’s a master of both fiction and documentary filmmaking and he’s never made a single formulaic film in his career. As he himself said in a recent TIFF Q&A, he is a “good soldier of cinema”.
Jeff: Ten years ago, I would have said the Coen Brothers but that just isn’t the case anymore. Probably Paul Thomas Anderson or Bong Joon-ho. They might not have huge bodies of work, but they’re the most exciting young directors working right now, and I’ll see anything they make.

OGM: From an artistic standpoint, which film do you think is most important?
Aaron: I think arguing for a “most important” movie is a near impossible task, but I’d vote for Citizen Kane as a movie that changed so many ideas of what film was capable of artistically, critically, + commercially. My film school answer would be Battleship Potemkin. Both of those are boring + predictable. Sorry.
Kat: That is a near-impossible question to answer, but the most important film in my own life is definitely Alain Resnais’ L’année dernière à Marienbad (Last Year at Marienbad). It was the first “art film” I saw, and it completely changed the course of my life.
Jeff: I don’t think there’s such a thing as a most important film really, but if I had to choose… King Kong, probably.

OGM: All artsy considerations aside, which movie is your personal favorite?
Aaron: The aforementioned Crimewave is right near the top, as are Kicking and Screaming, Seven, and Goodfellas.
Kat: It’s probably a tie between Pulp Fiction and Singin’ in the Rain, both of which I’ve seen more times than most other films combined.
Jeff: Probably either Seven Samurai, Miller’s Crossing, Breaking the Waves, or Short Cuts. King Kong would be up there, too.

OGM: In your opinion, which film is entirely overrated?
Aaron: Amelie is a pile of trash.
Kat: Julie Taymor’s Titus was the most ham-fisted pile of junk I’ve ever seen.
Jeff: American Beauty, The Sixth Sense, or Juno. Take your pick. Also… Kat’s choice of Titus is so wrong. So so wrong. We’ve had that discussion many times though and she won’t budge.

OGM: Have you ever walked out of the theatre during a film? If so, what movie was playing?
Aaron: I have walked out of The Rise and Fall of the Grumpy Burger, but few, if any, other than that.
Kat: I try never to walk out – but I’ve fallen asleep a few times.
Jeff: I never used to, but now I do from time to time. I think my first walkout ever was during The Avengers. It was too nice outside to sit through that crap.

OGM: In your mind, what’s the ultimate goal of a movie critic?
Aaron: To entertain readers and hopefully turn them on to remarkable films they might not have otherwise known about. I find that people will see a movie they are anticipating whether a critic has told them it’s lousy or not, but hopefully the criticism will at least give them a laugh or another perspective on the film regardless.
Kat: I think critics should try to provide something more than a plot recap and a personal opinion. I love reading intelligent analysis that actually gets audiences thinking about films on a deeper level than just whether they “liked it”. That said, critics shouldn’t lose sight of the fact that they should be entertaining as well.
Jeff: Ideally to spread the word about incredible films so that they get seen by as many people as possible, and, to a lesser degree, to warn people to stay away from bad movies.

OGM: Time to look into the future. Do you predict any major changes for the movie industry over the next 25 years?
Aaron: Well, film is already beginning to vanish as a format. I hope we don’t see digital delivery completely take over, but that looks to be the way things are headed. On the brighter side, new digital delivery formats will allow more young filmmakers to create popular work outside of the regular studio and festival circuits, and established directors to take on much riskier projects. But those ideas are entirely obvious to anyone looking at all. How about this: Hollywood will fall into the sea!
Kat: There are some obvious economic and technological changes coming, but what I hope for is a wholesale reinvention of the distribution side of the industry. Distro companies have forgotten how to market smaller titles, and a lot of real gems get buried as a result. Fingers crossed that they are forced to relearn how to release anything that isn’t a bloated, zillion-dollar star vehicle.
Jeff: The way things are going right now, unless some sort of arts funding is involved, it doesn’t look like small films have much more than 5-10 years of theatrical exhibition left. VOD’s the future, I think. Thankfully by then, HD televisions will be closer to being the standard, so while it won’t be the same, it’ll be okay-ish.

OGM: Here’s another chance to predict the future. Name a relatively unknown actor or actress who’ll be a huge star within five years.
Aaron: Kat Dennings may already be on her way. I think Olivia Thirlby will continue to do great stuff. Josh Peck is one to watch too.
Kat: I think Anton Yelchin, the kid who played Chekov in the new Star Trek and also played John Connor’s dad in Terminator: Salvation, is going to be huge. I have my fingers crossed for Amanda Seyfried (recently of Chloe and Jennifer’s Body) too – I hear that in real life she’s a huge dork and really into meteorology, just like me.
Jeff: I just saw Sean Byrne’s The Loved Ones at TIFF and thought that Robin McLeavy and Xavier Samuel were fantastic in it. Samuel has a small part in one of the upcoming Twilight films, so he’s set, but McLeavy will doubtlessly be popping up in a lot of films in the next few years, too.

OGM: Besides yourself, who’s your favorite movie critic to read?
Aaron: I think Karina Longworth from Spout is great. Entertaining, smart, + well versed in a huge gamut of movies.
Kat: Locally in Toronto, I think Jason Anderson of Eye Weekly and the Toronto Star is the only one really worth his salt. I’m a huge Roger Ebert fan. In recent years, he’s become one of my favourite journalists on any subject.
Jeff: Like Kat, I always read Jason Anderson’s reviews. Our tastes overlap more often than not, and he writes with a great mixture of thoughtful criticism and humour. I’m always afraid of having films spoiled for me by reviews though, so I actually don’t read as many critics as I probably should. I tend to keep myself informed on films before their release, see them, and THEN I’ll read what others had to say about it.

Once again, thanks to Aaron, Kat, and Jeff for taking part in this installment of Critical Juncture. Drop by their website whenever you’ve got a free moment, as the site’s title is just a small indication of how witty this group of canucks can be.

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