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Daily Reads: Why There’s No Objective Criticism, Jennifer Lawrence As Hollywood’s Biggest Female Star

Daily Reads: Why There's No Objective Criticism, Jennifer Lawrence As Hollywood's Biggest Female Star

Criticwire’s Daily Reads brings today’s essential
news stories and critical pieces to you.

1. Why There’s No Objective Criticism. GamerGate has so many cultural critics writing about its misogyny that questions of “ethics in gaming journalism” are mostly being pushed aside (or mocked when brought up). One of the frequent complaints of GamerGate, however, is that video game reviews should be “objective.” Alyssa Rosenberg of The Washington Post writes why that’s not possible, and why those claims shape our view of video games as art.

The critic Paul Tassi tried to explain…“The public would be wise to read a breadth of reviews, and find reviewers whose tastes generally line up with their own. But even then, when a reviewer suddenly has a drastically different opinion than you on a game, it’s not because they’re biased or have suddenly lost their objectivity.” Readers, in this model, should look for a reviewer whose priorities match their own, rather than chasing a critical windmill. But they should also understand what it is that they are seeking, rather than pretending that they pursue some sort of more ethical model of journalism. Read more.

2. 31 Underseen Asian Horror Movies. Yesterday, Rolling Stone’s list of horror films you haven’t seen actually included some films that most horror fans haven’t seen, for a change. But they’re just scratching the surface, and Film Comment’s Grady Hendrix is here to draw attention to a number of terrific underseen Asian horror films worth seeking out.

“The Uninvited” (Korea, 2003). Lost in the flood of nearly indistinguishable horror movies that Korea hemorrhaged in the early 2000s, this is one of the coldest, most anti-human ghost stories to ever creep onto the big screen. An interior decorator sees dead people, and so does his upstairs neighbor, but then the movie shrugs off that entire plotline and submerges viewers into a spookily quiet, glacially slow, cryptically oblique ghost story done Henry James style. Full of brooding atmosphere and alienating screen compositions, it’s a useful litmus test: some people will find it boring and slow, others will find it a heartbreaking work of staggering unquiet. Read more.

3. Why Some Dread the New Marvel Movies. Yesterday, Marvel announced nine new superhero movies on the way from 2016 to 2019. Plenty of superhero fans are rejoicing, but Todd VanDerWerff of Vox writes about why he’s not looking forward to any of the new comic book movies, even if he expects he’ll see all of them and enjoy most of them.

No, what I’m reacting to here, I think, is the way that these sorts of lists and master plans remove whatever capacity geek cinema has to surprise us. I like to think back to the visceral thrill I felt at watching Robert Downey, Jr., revive his career in that first “Iron Man,” or the way that Heath Ledger lit up the screen in “The Dark Knight” in ways we hadn’t quite expected…See, to me, Marvel’s never made a great movie. It’s come close — both the first “Avengers” and the second “Captain America” are terrific examples of the form — but inevitably, the stories revert to the company’s “three big fights, laced with shallow character stories and snarky humor” formula and devolve into an ending where a bunch of things created in a computer hit each other with other things created in a computer. Read more.

4. Steven Spielberg’s “A.I.” Is a Misunderstood Classic. Steven Spielberg has made plenty of great films, but few as divisive as his 2001 film “A.I.: Artificial Intelligence.” The film is considered by many to be a fatal compromise of a Stanley Kubrick project, particularly with an ending seen as sickly sweet. Robbie Collin of The Telegraph, however, argues (correctly, says I) that the ending, and the film, is actually “wrenchingly sad.”

One of the apparent objections was the epilogue set in the future: it was seen as both superfluous and a Spielbergian sop to sentiment: a snuggly, upbeat ending for a film that never courted one. Yet properly decoded, it’s the opposite, and provides the film with a shattering payoff that raises it to the level of both directors’ greatest work. Read more.

5. Jennifer Lawrence as Hollywood’s Biggest Female Star. Vulture has published their latest list of most valuable stars in Hollywood, and for the first time it’s been topped by a woman: Jennifer Lawrence. Bilge Ebiri writes about why that’s important, and about how Lawrence has mastered picking her projects and being herself in the public arena.

But Lawrence has made her awkwardness her secret weapon…In fact, the more the world scrutinizes her, the more Jennifer Lawrence seems just to be herself. That was particularly true during the recent ghastly phone-hacking scandal, when, instead of issuing a typical, publicist-approved statement, Lawrence went off — not just on the people that had done this to her, but even those, including her fans and friends, who had looked at the stolen and leaked photos. Suddenly, she had turned the spotlight around on the rest of the world. Read more.

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