Iain Stott – Movie Critic Interviews

Wednesday, July 1, 2009 at 11:42 pm

Iain Stott is the resident movie critic over at The One-Line-Review, and his reviews are distilled down to a single line of penetrating criticism. If you’re a movie buff with a busy schedule, Iain’s reviews allow you to learn the essentials and then get back on with your life. Recently, Iain was kind enough to participate in the latest edition of Critical Juncture, so be sure and thank him by checking out his site.

Only Good Movies: What’s the first movie that you remember seeing?
Iain Stott: The first film that I remember seeing as a child is Superman II (1980), which came out in the UK not long before my fifth birthday, and is one of the few films that I managed to see in my home town, which has been cinema-less for many years now.

The only real reason why I remember seeing it is because a boy who lived across the road from my Nan’s house was sat behind me. This is indicative of how much films (didn’t) thrilled me as a child – cinema held no real place of importance in my early life: playing football, drawing – these were my passions. It wasn’t really until I was around 19 or 20, and discovered a world of film beyond Hollywood, that I fell in love with the movies. And with that in mind, perhaps my I should say that Three Colours: White (1994) or Delicatessen (1991) are my real first films.

OGM: What’s the most recent movie you’ve seen?
IS: Well, as I was born 80 years and six months after the birth of cinema, I’ve had rather a lot of films to catch up on. So I tend to watch mostly Old films on DVD – the most recent being Marcel L’Herbier’s L’Argent (1928), which, although excellent, was perhaps not as impressive as I had hoped that it would be.

OGM: Is there a particular film which you feel is criminally underrated?
IS: The one film that springs immediately to mind is Kurosawa’s much maligned I Live in Fear (1955), which is often written off as a slightly unsuccessful examination of fear and paranoia (perhaps down to the misleading title.) But for me, the film is not so much about fear as it is about the illusion of personal freedom, and on that level I consider it to be a masterpiece and one of the great Japanese director’s best works.

OGM: Which director do you feel has turned out the best overall body of work?
IS: That would have to be Ingmar Bergman. In his career, he turned out more 60 films, very few of them being anything less than excellent, and many of them being absolute masterpieces. I considered proffering Terence Davies, as almost everything he has done has been a masterpiece, but as he so often struggles to find financing for his projects, he seldom works, and as a result his filmography is perhaps a little too sparse for consideration. Ozu and Kiarostami also crossed my mind.

OGM: From an artistic standpoint, which film do you think is most important?
IS: If we take most important to mean most influential, then undoubtedly, the answer is Citizen Kane (1941). A quick perusal of polls of critics and filmmakers would soon back this up. But whilst Citizen Kane (1941) is indisputably important, influential, and above all else a cracking good film, for me, there are a number of other films that engage with me greater on an intellectual, emotional, and visceral level. And if I was to choose just one, that would probably be Kiarostami’s life changing Close-Up (1990).

OGM: All artsy considerations aside, which movie is your personal favorite?
IS: My favorite? The most entertaining. A film that I can watch no matter one sort of mood I’m in. A film that I come back to over and over. A Film that always puts a smile on my face. That would have to be The Apartment (1960). Wilder, Lemmon, MacLaine – bliss.

OGM: In your opinion, which film is entirely overrated?
IS: No one particular film comes to mind, but one filmmaker does – Godard. Now, whilst I quite enjoyed his early light-hearted work (although I wouldn’t say that any of it was particularly great), as the years have progressed and he has become ever more pretentious, his films have become increasingly interminable. But I haven’t seen all of his work yet, so perhaps I’ll find something that I love one day.

OGM: Have you ever walked out of the theatre during a film? If so, what movie was playing?
IS: Never. I have turned a DVD off, though: Butchered (2003), quite the worst piece of amateurish rubbish that I’ve ever seen. I’m not sure how long I endured it for, but it certainly wasn’t long.

OGM: In your mind, what’s the ultimate goal of a movie critic?
IS: Well, I’d say that there are two types of film criticism: the first involves directing people towards worthwhile films to spend their hard-earned money on, whilst the second involves helping filmgoers to better understand what they have seen. So, the ultimate goal of a movie critic is either to direct people towards certain films with concise reviews or to influence their tastes with more in-depth, spoiler riddled writings. Both types serve a purpose.

OGM: Time to look into the future. Do you predict any major changes for the movie industry over the next 25 years?
IS: Nothing ever really changes. Hollywood will continue to pump out works that virtually everyone quite likes, but that no one really loves or hates. Whilst art house cinema will continue to polarize audiences, tiny though they will no doubt continue to be. Either that or Smellovision will revolutionize the industry!?!

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.
IS: What really births stardom? A sex tape, a superstar partner, large mammaries, luck? It’s seldom talent. So who knows?

OGM: Besides yourself, who’s your favorite movie critic to read?
IS: I don’t really have one favourite. I subscribe to Sight & Sound, so that’s my main source for film reading. I also like Ozu’s World and Like Anna Karina’s Sweater, mostly for their rather wonderful titles. But I generally just haphazardly surf around, reading what ever catches my eye.

Also recommended:

Elsie Flannigan – Movies and the Masses

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