Wednesday, 4 May 2011

Intermission: Forgotten Pleasures of the Multiplex (with apologies to Sight & Sound)

The June edition of the fabulous Sight & Sound magazine has a rather intriguing cover story. Entitled 'Forgotten Pleasures of the Multiplex', it corrals prominent critics and insiders - universally tasteful and high-of-brow - and asks a simple question of each of them: which mainstream film of the last three decades, a critical and/or commercial failure on release, would you rescue for critical re-evaluation? All of this is, of course, just a smart re-working of every film student's stock conversation: "which films do you love that everyone else hates?", though framing it over the last thirty years does give a bit more structure to the debate.

It's a little insight into the world of the average S&S contributor that 'mainstream' is interpreted to include such Megaplex-fodder as Spartan, Une chambre en ville and L'Ete meurtrier; to my knowledge none of these troubled the Doncaster Odeon. There are also a few that, as far as I was aware, are already held in popular and critical esteem (Bound, Menace II Society).

But it's a fascinating selection nonetheless. Some are predictable: The Godfather Part III (surely the cinematic counterpart to The Stone Roses' Second Coming in terms of critical reappraisal) A.I. Artificial Intelligence and even Alien 3 have long had their defenders. The Last Starfighter can legitimately be considered a cult film and it takes a very hard heart indeed to pick on Footloose.

There are also a few that I very much agree with and for whom critical re-evaluation is overdue: I was delighted to spot The Devil Wears Prada, The Craft, and The Runaways, all films that I enjoyed very much - and not in a 'guilty pleasure' sense, either. A very female trio, you'll note; while I am far from qualified to discuss the film industry's bizarre and somewhat diseased attitude to women, suffice to say here that this list of 75 underappreciated films does tilt somewhat toward the feminine.

Of course, this leads the reader to fill in the blanks themselves - for me, this list would include Dune, the Hollywood remake of The Ring, American Pie, Beerfest and A Knight's Tale. I would also heartily disinclude The Love Guru, The Switch and Final Destination 3, but I suppose that's just the nature of the beast.

I urge anyone reading this to pick up a copy - it's a really fascinating leading article composed to the usual high S&S standard. However, for the sake of completeness and for those who can't get their hands on one, here's the full list in alphabetical order:
A.I. Artificial Intelligence, Alien 3, All the Marbles, The Arrival, Avalon, Boogie Boy, Bound, The Bounty, The Box, Breakdown, The Butterfly Effect, Un chambre en ville, Contact, Contact High, The Craft, Deep Cover, De l'autre cote du lit, The Devil Wears Prada, The Entity, L'Ete meurtrier, Excalibur, The Falcon and the Snowman, Femme Fatale, Final Destination 3, Footloose, Galaxy Quest, The Godfather Part III, Gregiore Moulin contre l'humanite, Hangin' with the Homeboys, Henry V, Hudson Hawk, Hustle & Flow, The Icicle Thief, Impulse, Isn't She Great, Jennifer's Body, Joan Lui - Ma un giorno nel paese arrivo io di lunedi, Keeping Mum, The King, Knowing, The Last Starfighter, The Love Guru, The Man in the Moon, Menace II Society, Midnight Run, O.C. and Stiggs, One True Thing, Palmetto, A Perfect Getaway, Pineapple Express, The Razor's Edge, Return to Oz, Ronin, The Runaways, Session 9, Seven Minutes in Heaven, The Signal, Spartan, Static, Streets of Fire, The Sure Thing, The Switch, That Thing You Do!, Tin Cup, Tombstone, Trespass, Two Idiots in Hollywood, Unlawful Entry, Victor Victoria, The Village, The Wisdom of Crocodiles, Women of the Night, Working Girl, Year One.