Tuesday, July 29, 2014

The movie, Reaching for the Moon, is a reminder for me of why I hate being asked to rate movies out of five stars. It's too reductive. Say "three stars" and they assume it's kind of a turd, say "four stars" and they'll be expecting a masterpiece so you have to qualify that, well, Pitch Perfect isn't for everyone.

Reaching for the Moon isn't a perfect movie. It's not even a... great movie. If I had to rate it out of five I couldn't justify more than a three, probably: there are bits that don't work, some painfully long aspects that don't seem to go anywhere. And yet it's one of those movies that has stuck with me and that I feel like will probably stick with me for awhile yet.

It's also introduced me to the work of American poet Elizabeth Bishop, who is hugely accomplished and was a complete stranger to me. I mean, come on, if this poem -

One Art

Elizabeth Bishop
The art of losing isn’t hard to master;
so many things seem filled with the intent
to be lost that their loss is no disaster.

Lose something every day. Accept the fluster
of lost door keys, the hour badly spent.
The art of losing isn’t hard to master.

Then practice losing farther, losing faster:
places, and names, and where it was you meant 
to travel. None of these will bring disaster.

I lost my mother’s watch. And look! my last, or
next-to-last, of three loved houses went.
The art of losing isn’t hard to master.

I lost two cities, lovely ones. And, vaster,
some realms I owned, two rivers, a continent.
I miss them, but it wasn’t a disaster.

—Even losing you (the joking voice, a gesture
I love) I shan’t have lied.  It’s evident
the art of losing’s not too hard to master
though it may look like (Write it!) like disaster.
- isn't worth $17 for a movie ticket then I don't know what is. Gorgeous.

For me, I guess, the only question that matters when it comes to movies is whether it's worth seeing. Reaching for the Moon is, to me, worth seeing. Another better made and arguably more capital-i Important film like 12 Years a Slave... well, although I can appreciate it's well made and all it just didn't do it for me. I wouldn't be able to recommend it. Then you take something pretty lame like, say Hairspray: not a great musical or a great movie, I'd argue, but I saw it twice at the movies because it was just so freaking enjoyable.

So when it comes to the movies, if you care about such things, forget about star ratings and start thinking about whether it's worth the price of admission, the calorific debt of a choc bomb and two hours of your life.

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