Thrash Til Death – Movie Critic Interviews

Thursday, July 16, 2009 at 5:10 pm

Billed as your #1 source for live-action anime, LiveActionAnime.org has everything that fans of Japanese anime could ever want. With more and more of these films being remade in the Hollywood system, it’s also a great place to keep track of some of the coolest movies coming to a theatre near you. As part of this week’s Critical Juncture series, we sat down with Live Action Anime editor and reviewer Thrash Til Death to get his take on the state of cinema. Here’s what he had to say:

Only Good Movies: What’s the first movie that you remember seeing?
Thrash Til Death: If I cast my mind back, it would probably be “The Searchers”. My grandparents had a huge collection of westerns on VHS. When I was very young, I was around at their house a lot and they’d let me pick the movie I wanted to watch. I don’t know why, but it was always that one.

OGM: What’s the most recent movie you’ve seen?
TTD: “Red Cliff”, in the cinema just yesterday, and I loved it. Unfortunately, only the abridged cut made it to UK cinemas, but it’s still one of the most downright entertaining experiences I’ve had at the movies in months.

OGM: Is there a particular film which you feel is criminally underrated?
TTD: One in particular stands out; a Korean film called “Musa”, the title of which translates out to “The Warrior”. It’s a historical war epic drowned in the slew of historical war epics that have emerged both from Asia and the West ever since “Gladiator”, but to my mind, this one stands miles out ahead of the pack. One of the most brutal and uncompromising films I’ve ever seen.

OGM: Which director do you feel has turned out the best overall body of work?
TTD: This is a tough one, but I guess maybe Akira Kurosawa. “Rashomon”, “Ikiru”, “Seven Samurai”, “Yojimbo”, “Sanjuro”, “Throne of Blood”, “Ran”… you don’t get many directors who operate at that kind of consistent level of excellence.

OGM: From an artistic standpoint, which film do you think is most important?
TTD: When push comes to shove, the most important movie would really have to be “Birth of a Nation”, the movie that invented film grammar as we know it today. Continuity editing, parallel lines of action… this film started it all in one fell swoop.

OGM: All artsy considerations aside, which movie is your personal favorite?
TTD: “Blade Runner”. I’m a bit of a dystopian cityscape fetishist, so couple that film’s seminal look with Vangelis’ score, memorable characters and a subtly existential story, and I really can’t ask for anything else.

OGM: In your opinion, which film is entirely overrated?
TTD: “Halloween”. John Carpenter’s technical credits are irrefutable, but I find the portrayal of the threat in that film to be just too mundane to inspire any fear and the characters too dull to inspire much involvement. I’m not big on slasher films anyway, but they can be done well. The original “Texas Chainsaw Massacre” does right what “Halloween” does wrong.

OGM: Have you ever walked out of the theatre during a film? If so, what movie was playing?
TTD: Only once, during “Epic Movie”. The trailers had me convinced it would be a moderately funny film. What I got was the most insipid, puerile, mean-spirited, unfunny, and downright worst piece of shit I’d ever seen. I quite literally couldn’t bear to watch more than 45 minutes.

OGM: In your mind, what’s the ultimate goal of a movie critic?
TTD: Good and bad are terms purely subjective to the viewer, and not for the critic to decide on objective terms; that’s a common misconception about a critic’s role. Beyond the obvious role of consumer advice, I think a good critic should have the insight and the vocabulary necessary to deepen viewer’s understanding of movies and help make their movie-watching experience more discerning and more rewarding.

OGM: Time to look into the future. Do you predict any major changes for the movie industry over the next 25 years?
TTD: Not really. The movie industry is consistently profitable and seemingly immune from economic fluctuations, so there isn’t really any incentive for major studios to shift from the Summer-blockbuster/winter-Oscar-bait cycle they’re presently locked in. On the technological side of things, the use of 3-D and digital environments may become more commonplace, but that doesn’t necessarily equate to any difference to extant narrative formulae.

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.
TTD: Sam Worthington. He’s widely agreed to have upstaged Christian Bale in “Terminator: Salvation” and he’s due to star in “Avatar”, James Cameron’s new Biggest Movie Ever. He’s a talented actor, and everything seems to point to him breaking into the mainstream in spectacular fashion over the next year or so.

OGM: Besides yourself, who’s your favorite movie critic to read?
TTD: Roger Ebert. Having been in the critic business for over forty years, he’s possibly one of the single biggest reservoirs of film knowledge in the world, and yet he still obviously harbours a deep and honest love for the medium and doesn’t come across as cynical or jaded. His reviews are written with flair, wit and insightfulness and are simply a joy to read.

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