Michelle Graham – Movie Critic Interviews

Saturday, April 3, 2010 at 5:24 pm

Whether you’re looking for movie news or movie reviews, Film School Rejects is one of the best places to enjoy the wonderful world of cinema. That’s why we’re delighted to have Michelle Graham, a contributing writer for the site, as this week’s guest on Critical Juncture. As returning readers know, each week the Critical Juncture segment asks film critics and bloggers to answer an identical series of questions about movies, thus affording our regulars with an opportunity to compare and contrast.

For more on Michelle Graham and Film School Rejects, be sure to visit their Facebook page. In the meantime, let’s commence with the questions…

Only Good Movies: What’s the first movie that you remember seeing?
Michelle Graham: The first movie I remember seeing on TV would probably be Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom. The sheer terror I felt at the voodoo, ripped out hearts and freaky masks stayed with me for years, not to mention the ick factor from all the bugs! The first movie I saw on the big screen was The Little Mermaid, which my parents had to walk me out of for a good 10 minutes because I was so scared of Ursula. Bloody sea-witch terrified the little 5-year-old heart right out of me, growing so big and making whirlpools.

OGM: What’s the most recent movie you’ve seen?
MG: The last movie I saw was Burton’s Alice in Wonderland, and I could not have been happier with that interpretation if you paid me to be. The characters were well-rounded, the way in which we were introduced and assimilated into Underland was realistic, and the whole style of the picture was beautiful. Of course, what else could you expect from Burton?

OGM: Is there a particular film that you feel is criminally underrated?
MG: Miami Vice. I have no idea why people were so displeased with that movie. Perhaps it’s because I haven’t seen the original series, but I found the whole thing thoroughly enjoyable. It may not be Citizen Kane, but few movies are. However, if we’re talking about movies that don’t get enough love in general, it’d have to be Kiss Kiss, Bang Bang. That movie is fantastic; the dialogue is sharp and goes flying by at 100mph, the characters are completely realistic and the relationships are fascinating. Unfortunately it hasn’t been seen by nearly enough people. Critics love it, but the general populous seems to have ignored its existence, which is very sad.

OGM: Which director do you feel has turned out the best overall body of work?
MG: I’m not really an expert in directors, but I have my pet few. One of my personal favorites (due mostly to his style) is Tim Burton. I recently saw Alice in 3D and it blew me away. I’m not a fan of 3D technology–I didn’t particularly enjoy Avatar–but Alice completely sold me on it. I wish every fantasy movie could be adapted by Tim Burton, just to see what the hell he would make of it. However, I’ll always be a child of the big Spielberg movies, and he has an excellent repertoire, also. I read rumors that Indy 5 could be making its way to the big screen and as long as he doesn’t include aliens this time, I’ll be booking my seats a year in advance.

OGM: From an artistic standpoint, which film do you think is most important?
MG: I can’t answer that. Each genre has its own unique collection of highly referenced and influential movies, and those collections are still being added to. For example, the horror genre was hugely impacted by Halloween, but more recently the Saw phenomenon has created a whole sub-genre. It may not be one that I particularly like seeing the creation of, but it definitely spawned a new modern emphasis and moved horror away from the slasher approach that had become so common. However, neither Halloween or Saw have any impact on the romantic comedy genre. At least, I really hope they never do.

OGM: All artsy considerations aside, which movie is your personal favorite?
MG: Agh, another that I can’t answer. I don’t do favorite movies/songs/books because I have far too many that I love to pick from. I can’t even do countdowns, the best I can do is name a few random loves. The Star Wars franchise, Kiss Kiss Bang Bang, Groundhog Day (who doesn’t love this?), Dirty Dancing, Conversations with Other Women, Batman, Batman Begins, The Dark Knight… I could keep going!

OGM: In your opinion, which film is entirely overrated?
MG: There are many, many highly overrated movies, but the most recent that I can think of is Avatar. That film bored me so thoroughly that I spent a good chunk of it playing with the 3D glasses.

OGM: Have you ever walked out of the theatre during a film? If so, what movie was playing?
MG: I’ve never walked out of a movie while it was still playing. It’s against my nature, I have to give it a chance all the way to the end, and I need to know how the story plays out. However, that doesn’t mean I’ve never wanted to. I was pretty close to walking out during Hot Fuzz; it just wasn’t my cup of tea.

OGM: In your mind, what’s the ultimate goal of a movie critic?
MG: A movie critic is someone giving their opinion of a film. They should never forget that it is only their opinion, and they should never bring their own biases into the theatre. The ultimate goal for me is always just to judge the film based on what I thought of it and never to get too snobbish about the content. If it’s an enjoyable film but complete fluff, it shouldn’t be discounted.

OGM: Time to look into the future. Do you predict any major changes for the movie industry over the next 25 years?
MG: The movie industry seems to be losing originality as the years go on. Increasing numbers of adaptations, more sequels/reboots to existing franchises and fewer original works are shrinking the celluloid world. Things are probably going to get a whole lot worse for a while. Happily, with the success of films like The Hangover and Juno, studios are more willing to put small wads of cash into funding modest pictures, so the end is not quite upon us. Other trends such as comic book movies/young adult adaptations/vampires are normal cycles, so they’ll probably die down again in the next five years (or after the second part of Breaking Dawn, in the case of vampires).

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.
MG: Mia Wasikowska. I know she’s already done some big things and that should rule her out of this sort of question, but she really was excellent in Alice in Wonderland.

OGM: Who’s your favorite movie critic to read?
MG: I don’t have a favorite critic to read, because I rarely do. However, I adore Jonathon Ross (“wossy” on twitter) and his show, Film2010. I also enjoy reading the critical assessments of movies that are long since out, such as those found in Cinematical’s Shelf Life series, or the Movies We Love column on Film School Rejects.

Many thanks to Michelle Graham for taking part. For more opinions on cinema, be sure to join us again next week for another installment of Critical Juncture.


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