I’m so full of breathless anticipation for Master and Commander, I keep forgetting I haven’t actually read any Patrick O’ Brian novels. It just feels like I have, since they’re so boundlessly adored by people like ODID*, OEIT**, and, of course, OTAY***.
Normally on the eve of the opening of such a movie event, I would be starting to dread the arrival of the reviews. I’m far too much a slave to bad reviews, and I hate it when I let a little faint praise burst my bubble before there’s even a chance to go see for myself. I’m sure I’ve cheated myself out of a lot of enjoyable movies, if not great ones, this way. Also, there is something to be said for being disappointed first-hand. And I always wonder what sort of meaningful relation there is between my experience of a movie in the pursuit of pleasure, and the experience of someone who is at work when they’re at the movies. Remember why Pauline Kael retired? She said she just couldn’t watch all those movies anymore; she was sick of them, or at least the vast mediocre portion of them. If that’s what years of reviewing can do to someone so susceptible to movie love–well, I’m not so sure I should be giving quite so much credence to people undergoing the same week-in, week-out cinematic force feeding that pounded the pleasure out of moviegoing for Kael.
Not to question the whole critical enterprise, or anything. I wouldn’t want to talk myself right out of an arts blogging gig! I just hope that in the future (starting tomorrow) I will not let myself be swayed too easily by a cranky critic or two. It’s beyond my power to not read the reviews, but I hereby resolve to stand up to them. (It’s a bit easier to talk a good game when the trusted Cinetrix has already weighed in positively on the O’Brian. Hooray for sneak previews in Boston that allow her to get the jump on the papers!)
*Our Dad in Detroit
**Our Ex in Texas
***Our Terry and Yours