The one word you’ll never hear from me in a film review
Let me reveal something you probably didn’t know about me. I swear. I swear quite a lot. Well I suppose it’s not a lot compared to let’s say the thugs in Attack the Block. But I swear more than you would expect from a middleclass woman of my age.
It dawned upon me only recently when colleague had brought her toddler to the job. She and I had a meeting and he was supposed to occupy himself making a drawing. However he didn’t. There was something more interesting in the room pulling his attention. That thing was me.
Every time a curse or invective – no matter how harmless – came over my lips, he looked at me triumphantly and told me bluntly that I needed to put a coin in the curse pot. Apparently they kept one at home for those occasions. The frequency of those coin claims made me realize that my language can get pretty filthy at times. (As in the case with my co-worker, it turned out. She admitted to me that the biggest donations to the curse fund came from her, not from her kids.)
Actually my cursing doesn’t bother me as much as it maybe should. At least not as much as it bothered the little boy. Words are just… words. There is no magic involved. I don’t think God will take offence because I call him out and I don’t believe there’s a devil that will come running to my assistance if I pick a word from his realms.
On the contrary I think a good cursing that is done with consideration, variation and precision can enrich your language. I’d probably swear a lot more in this blog if I wasn’t writing in a foreign language. Swearing correctly, in the right moments, choosing the appropriate word, is about the hardest thing you can do when you’re not on your home arena. It takes skill. So that’s why you don’t see a lot of f-words in my writings, even though I’m principally not against it.
But there is another word that you’ll never see in a film review at The Velvet Café. Can you guess which one? It’s the m-word. Got it? Not? OK, I’ll spell it out then.
The world seems to be filled with masterpieces considering how often I hear it tossed out by film fans and I suppose I’ll step on a few toes when share my dislike for it but I’ll do it anyway. Because I cringe every time I see it. It’s pompous and arrogant.
If you say: “I really love movie X; I think it’s fantastic because…”, you leave it open for someone else to say “I didn’t like it at all”, and then you can hopefully get into a constructive conversation about your likes and dislikes and get into a deeper understanding of the film.
But if you just toss on the word “masterpiece” as a label on the movie: “The Masterpiece X”, you’re making a claim of objectivity, taking for granted that there is a general consensus that this movie is outstanding. It becomes untouchable, out of reach for discussion.
The word masterpiece indicates that you’ve taken a position above everyone else’s. You’re a self appointed judge, who thanks to your superior knowledge about the film art can make verdicts and distinguish the masterpieces from the rest.
I admit that the word comes out slightly better when used by an established, respected film critic who can put some weight behind it. I still don’t like it, but when it comes from an authority at least it doesn’t sound silly as when it comes from a teenager who appoints “masterpieces” among the handful of movies he or she has seen.
If I had a pot where film bloggers had to put a coin every time they used the word “masterpiece”, I’d be rich by now.
Let’s talk about movies we love or hate. Let’s explain why we think a movie is good or bad, from our own, very subjective standpoints.
The m-word is [insert appropriate filthy word] annoying. Please drop it.