I’m always intrigued by the blurbs on print adverts for the latest films. Usually, the more obscure the film, the more obscure the person supplying the congratulatory “must-see” quote.
Which is why a (printed) advert for Holocaust drama The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas in The Times today caught my attention. Here is what the critics had to say, with names given in full, in the original annoying syntax.
- “Stunning, simply stunning” (THEEDGE – 4 ROCHFORD, ESSEX)
- “A great achievement” (NIMROD-14, UK)
- “A must-see…This really is in my opinion, the best film of 2008 so far” (JOSEPHSALIBURY, UK)
- “An incredibly powerful, moving story… I would recommend it it immensely to everyone” (HANNAH EDWARDS, UK)
- “Please, please see this film, it will remain with you for a long time.” (MJAVFC1, UK)
- “Truly heart-wrenching stuff” (OLIVERGBYRNE, CALIFORNIA, FULLERTON)
- “This film wrenched me apart adn reminded me of humanity inside even the most hardened man” (TOMASSHAFFENDEN-1, UK)
As you can see, these are not film critics. They are in fact commentors on the IMDB page for the film. It even says so in tiny, tiny writing in the bottom right-hand corner.
I find this puzzling: why not take something from the Times’ own film critic who called the film “one of the most moving and remarkable films about childhood I’ve ever seen”?
Why not do something creative with social media and quote from a specially designed online presence for the film – even if it’s just a Facebook or Myspace page? Just how relevent are the views of OLIVERGBYRNE, from California, to British people?
A more extreme and amusing example of obscure film-blurbism Guy Ritchie’s not-awful-but-completely-bewildering Revolver (about gangsters, unsurprisingly). The film was universally panned by critics, yet huge billboards appeared around towns declaring it “Brilliant…Guy Ritchie back to his best!”
Fair enough if that’s what you think, except that the line is from The Sun’s online film e-zine Film First which had bagged a WORLD EXCLUSIVE interview with the director, as The Guardian pointed out at the time. Private Eye established that the “brilliant!” part of the quote was from none other than The Sun’s Page 3 girl Ruth (she makes a brief appearance in the film).
But the real point is this: if you want to know how good a film is, don’t listen to the film companies or their PR goons – go to IMDB and Metacritic and find out for yourself. That way, you can read all the good and bad comments, not just the ones cherry-picked by ideas-starved marketeers.
With cinema tickets costing upwards of £10 in London, I know who I’d trust.