Travis McCollum – Movie Critic Interviews

Thursday, December 17, 2009 at 2:20 pm

It’s time once again for Critical Juncture, where we take a closer look at some of the opinions of today’s leading movie bloggers and critics. Our guest this week is Travis McCollum, the mind behind The Movie Encyclopedia, a blog dedicated to exploring some of the lesser-known and underappreciated films out there. As Travis says right at the top of his site, “Hello, I am The Movie Encyclopedia, and if no one else will see it…I will!”

True to his word, Travis and The Movie Encyclopedia provide movie reviews for such diverse fare as Yor, Space Mutiny, Johnny Mnemonic, and the entire Home Alone series. He also reviews quality films such as A History of Violence, as well as many of the new releases that just hit theaters.

At the tender age of 18, Travis is currently attending college and pursuing his dream of being a professional film critic for a major newspaper. If you’d like to know more about him, or join him in a discussion of cinema, you can always visit his Facebook page.

Now on to the questions…


Only Good Movies: What’s the first movie that you remember seeing?
Travis McCollum: The first movie I remember seeing? Well, I remember my first trip to the theatre was seeing The Lion King, but the first full-length movie I ever saw was at home, and it was the original Disney 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea. I watched that, and a few months later (time is a little fuzzy then, I am only 18) I saw The Lion King.

OGM: What’s the most recent movie you’ve seen?
TM: The most recent film I saw was Armored with Matt Dillon and Laurence Fishburne. That movie has been getting a lot of flack because it wasn’t screened for critics, but it was actually really good. The cinematographer and editor were the same people who did two of my favorites: Pulp Fiction and Reservoir Dogs. It has that Tarantino flair, and essentially it’s a B movie action flick. It kept me excited, and it was short and well-acted. I actually recommend seeing it.

OGM: Is there a particular film which you feel is criminally underrated?
TM: In my opinion, it’s The Warriors, which is a great movie with one of the best stories I’ve ever heard. The action was great, the tension was nail biting, it created some of my most overused catchphrases (“Warriors come out and play!” and “CAN YOU DIG IT!”), and when it was first released it was completely panned by critics. Now all this time later when it’s being re-released and having its 20th anniversary, people are finally starting to appreciate it. I wear a Warriors jacket all the time, and whenever I say it’s from The Warriors, people are like “What movie is that?” That film needs way more attention.

OGM: Which director do you feel has turned out the best overall body of work?
TM: I know this is going to sound cliched, but I consider Martin Scorsese to be the best director ever. Every single film he’s done that I’ve seen has been totally mind blowing. He has such an attention to detail that a lot of other directors don’t.

OGM: From an artistic standpoint, which film do you think is most important?
TM: Citizen Kane. Once again, I know its a textbook answer used a million times, but considering when the film was made and all the revolutionary techniques they used, it stands head and shoulders above the rest from an artistic standpoint. All or most films nowadays have taken something from that movie, and most new directors should.

OGM: All artsy considerations aside, which movie is your personal favorite?
TM: Shaun of the Dead. Yeah…that movie. All this talk about Citizen Kane and Scorsese and here I am saying an indie British comedy is my favorite of all time. But it really is. I like it for two reasons. First is the humor. Almost every line, every camera angle, every sound effect, everything, has some sort of hidden comedic message or an outright laugh-out-loud message. It also showed that indie comedies don’t have to be spoof movies or “quirky” to be funny. All they need are good punchlines, great physical humor and good actors to deliver those lines. The second reason is the respect the film has. Like the humor, every camera angle, line, sound effect, everything, pays homage to the films that came before it. It shows a deep respect for filmmaking, while at the same time being hilarious. I’ve seen that movie over 50 times, and it’s still hilarious every time.

OGM: In your opinion, which film is entirely overrated?
TM: By critics or by fans? If it’s by critics, then I’d have to say (and I’m going to get hate mail and maybe lose readers for this) There Will Be Blood. It wasn’t a horrible movie. Daniel Day-Lewis was great, and he deserved his Oscar and any other awards he won. What made it so bad, and to me entirely overrated, was everything else in the film. I probably would’ve walked out if it wasn’t for Lewis. The beginning lags on for a long time and serves no purpose whatsoever. They could have skipped to him finding the kid in the basket, but no…they let it drag. As for the rest of the plot, it’s boring and shallow.

And just to make myself clear, I love Lawerence of Arabia and Doctor Zhivago. Those movies are waaaayyy longer than TWBB and they still proved to be a lot more interesting. It’s just that there’s nothing interesting about an oil man; that’s all he does. He buys up an oil field and works on it. And I would’ve forgiven the movie for all this if not for the ending. The ending was just the writers giving up. They took a lot of acid or coke and wrote down whatever came into their heads. I can understand the disowning thing in the beginning of the scene, but the whole “I DRINK YOUR MILKSHAKE!!” and beating the preacher guy to death with a bowling pin was ridiculous. I’m sorry, but not even Daniel Day-Lewis’s brilliant role and acting abilities could save this one.

By fans, I would have to say Transformers 2:Revenge of the Fallen. It was huge at the box office, and yet there was nothing redeemable about the movie whatsoever. It was the same thing we saw in the previous movie…the same thing! At least New Moon had a different story.

OGM: Have you ever walked out of the theatre during a film? If so, what movie was playing?
TM: I have never permanantly walked out of a movie. I’ve walked out temporarily for two movies and didn’t go back in for a while. Those two movies were Clerks 2 and The Goods: Live Hard, Sell Hard. Clerks 2 wasn’t a bad movie. Honestly, it was a really funny movie. In fact, I loved most of it. But when the donkey show scene came on, I just looked around and walked out. I will sit through mutilations in all the Saw movies and Hostel movies, but I will be damned if I sit and watch an act of bestiality on-screen. I walked back in after that scene.

With The Goods, I was just bored. We were halfway through the movie, and I was just bored out of my mind. Nothing funny had happened the whole movie, so I got up, went to the arcade and played some games, bought a popcorn, flirted with the girls who worked there, and then walked back into the movie with about 20 minutes left. Trust me, I missed nothing.

OGM: In your mind, what’s the ultimate goal of a movie critic?
TM: I think the ultimate goal of a movie critic is to provide a service to the community. You see, critics mostly see movies before or the day that they come out. We watch the movie and then write a review before most people get a chance to see said movie. It’s our duty as critics to criticize films, whether good or bad, and give an honest opinion on whether or not someone should see them. Whether they listen to us doesn’t matter. We informed them, and now they have the necessary tools to discern whether or not the film is worth seeing.

OGM: Time to look into the future. Do you predict any major changes for the movie industry over the next 25 years?
TM: I think 3D will pick up and become more prominent in films. I think it will evolve and become better. I think immersion in a film will become bigger with 3D as well. Otherwise, I really don’t see any major changes. Maybe a complete switch to digital film reels, but really there isn’t a whole lot I think that will change in the industry itself.

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.
TM: Well, my original pick, Sam Worthington, has suddenly become a huge star. He has been a favorite actor of mine for a while, but now with Terminator Salvation and Avatar under his belt, he’s already a huge star. I guess my new pick would have to be Sam Worthington’s co-star in Terminator Salvation, Moon Bloodgood. She is fairly underrated and, besides Salvation, hasn’t had a whole lot of movie roles. She’s been in a few really good TV shows (all of which were cancelled, except Burn Notice, and she’s a very minor character), and from all the acting I’ve seen her do, she will make it big and may even win an Oscar soon.

OGM: Besides yourself, who’s your favorite movie critic to read?
TM: Roger Ebert. He has always been my favorite critic, and I always trust every review he does. He is a great critic, and if you get a chance to read his online review blog you’ll be doing yourself a favor.

Thanks so much to Travis for taking part in this week’s Critical Juncture. Another interview will be posted next week, but here are a few more to keep you occupied in the meantime:

This entry was posted on Thursday, December 17th, 2009 at 2:20 pm and is filed under Movie Critic Interviews. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.


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