Ages ago, I’ve been tagged by Red Metal to do their 11 very intriguing questions. Many thanks for the tag!
Since Piotrek is understandably busy arranging his wedding, I’m going to do this one on my own – so no double answers this time, sorry 😉
Between music, film/television, and game critics, which do you find the least consistently reliable?
Between music, film/television, and game critics, which do you find the most consistently reliable?
I’m going to answer the two above together. I must admit I don’t spend much time following critics of any kind, not even book critics (with the exception of you guys ;)) and particularly not movie critics. I’ve been burned too many times to pay any attention to what most of them has to say 😉 These days I very rarely read commercial reviews; I prefer to form my own opinion about any form of artistic expression, be it a movie, a TV series, a music album, or a video game. From time to time I check aggregate opinions on BoardGameGeek, sometimes Polygon, IGN and IMDB 😉 I grew tired of RT, their aggregates seem skewed by arbitrary algorithms and I find myself disagreeing with the majority of the critical reviews compiled there.
What was your single worst theatergoing experience?
Scary Movie (2000). I went to see it with a bunch of friend and ended up so disgusted that I left the theater in the middle of the movie.
What was your single best theatergoing experience?
Apocalypse Now Redux (2001). It’s one of the best movies ever for me, plus I had the theater mostly to myself – there were maybe two more people in the room with me.
Do you think a lousy ending can completely ruin an otherwise great work?
Yes, absolutely. The ending is the finishing touch; it’s the message that will stay the longest with your audience. If you botch it up, it shows you either don’t know what you want or you’re unable to convey what you want – or you just don’t care, which is probably the most damning in my book – and as a result it makes the stuff you presented before seem like a fluke, and not a conscious effort.
I’m trying to think of books and movies that suffered because of this deficiency. I’d say that among books The Girl with All The Gifts still stands clearly in my memory as an example of a lousy ending, and I’m not sure whether the author simply had the ending prepared in advance and couldn’t make the rest work seamlessly toward it, or whether he just decided to change it at the last moment. Whatever the case, I felt that there was a significant discord between the body of the novel and its ending, and it affected negatively my otherwise positive experience with it. As for movies, Looper seems a good example of the malady. It’s not a great movie, but it had its moments – to have all the good will it gathered crash down around its ears by that illogical ending. Source Code is another movie that just sucks in the ending department – I mean, really, the tonal dissonance is so glaring that it left me utterly baffled. Was the director surreptitiously lobotomized right before the ending was filmed?
Do you think an incredible payoff can redeem an otherwise middling (or even bad) work?
I think so, to an extent. For me, the payoff must flow naturally from the buildup; so if buildup/setup/plant isn’t there, the payoff has no foundation. And while I can’t remember a bad movie with a great payoff (I don’t count the small inside jokes) I well remember a movie where the payoff was so bad it soured the whole experience for me – Nolan’s Prestige. For a movie dedicated to showing the audience how magic tricks work to hinge upon real magic in the conclusion is just a cop-out (and that’s the best case scenario).
As for comics, I really like the silent issue of Spider-man in Michael J. Straczynski and John Romita Jr’s run (Amazing Spider-man #39) – it’s about Aunt May’s discovery of the identity of Spider-man, coming right after some very violent events concerning vampires and demon totems and whatnot, and even if I’m not totally buying the Morlun hocus-pocus, this issue worked surprisingly well as a payoff.
Do you feel the price increase of AAA games was justifiable or not?
Can’t really answer this question, I so rarely play video games :). I do imagine they now take even more man-hours and more skilled workers to be properly done, and there are no shortcuts. On the other hand, I remember how Cameron’s Titanic was used as an excuse for a wholesale rise in theater tickets – the rationale was that it lasted for three hours or so, but the prices never went back to their previous level, even for shorter movies ;).
What work did you like as a kid only for you to realize it doesn’t hold up at all?
Robin of Sherwood. Don’t start me on it again! 😀
What work did you not like as a kid only for you to later realize it’s amazingly good?
For a long time I was deeply offended by the ending to Howard Pyle’s The Merry Adventures of Robin Hood. I mean, seriously! It says “merry” in the title! So WTF is this ending??!!! Yes, you can see that I still have some strong opinions on this topic ;).
Another book that I read as a child and found it somewhat underwhelming only to read it a bit later and discover it for the masterpiece it is was Ursula Le Guin’s A Wizard of Earthsea. I read it for the first time when I was about 8, soon after reading Tolkien, and expected something similar to LoTR. Instead I’ve got a fallible, vulnerable, even somewhat unlikable at first protagonist, and a story based on the concept of restoring the balance – as if the darkness had a right to exist 😉 Preposterous! Just ask Sauron! 😉 I read Le Guin again when I was about 12, and loved it ever since.
Are there any podcasts you listen to regularly?
Nope. I only listen to audiobooks when driving longer distances, because I tend to focus so much on the sounds. Aaron from Swords and Spectres recommended some anicent history podcasts to me, so I will give them a try at some point. I also listen from time to time to Simon Sinek’s A Bit of Optimism, where he talks with his guests about certain social/ethical concepts.
Taking cues from AK’s last question, what is the most bizarre combination of ingredients you enjoy?
Oh, I suspect quite a lot of the traditional Polish cuisine might be falling into that category. I really like pickled wild mushrooms, which are intensely sweet and sour. Polish pickled cucumbers are delicious, too. And Polish beet soup (borscht) – oh, that’s a glorious combination of sour and spicy and umami! 😀 For Christmas, you add little dumplings filled with wild dried mushrooms, preferably bolete, cooked and mixed with fried onion, which add a touch of sweetness to the whole thing.
…and now I’m getting hungry 😉
Thanks for the tag, Red Metal! If anyone wants to take part in the fun, you’re more than welcome to give it a go!