Vox that talked about a shift in film criticism recently and how critics have become more socially conscious than ever. While the piece is an interesting assertion of how many movies of late have come to be judged as much for their ethics as their art there was one particular section that took me by surprise and stuck with me. In a section titled "The end of Kaelism" Weinman says, "A work of art — serious or popular — isn't supposed to be judged by how much you agree with it, but by how it makes you feel and whether it can convince you of its validity." The context of this quote is key as the writer was discussing the approach of critics such as legendary New Yorker film critic Pauline Kael and Andrew Sarris, the man who invented the auteur theory, as critics who ultimately sported an "art-for-art's-sake approach to culture." I was reminded of this approach, this train of thought, as I sat watching the latest from director Marc Webb ((500) Days of Summer, The Amazing Spider-Man). I was struck by the fact that despite recognizing the predictable tropes utilized in Gifted that I was really, really into the story and that despite the clichés of the courtroom drama Webb's techniques were overcoming them in a way that was delivering a film, a piece of art, that made me feel good; that made me appreciate movies for showing me what they can do. How they can move you. I went into Gifted expecting something along the lines of a sappy, Hallmark-style melodrama with better actors and production design, but within the first fifteen minutes Gifted had convinced me of its validity — it had convinced me of its sincerity that was ingrained in its otherwise competent execution. Sure, many will dismiss Gifted for being the type of film that is emotionally manipulative because it wouldn't be mad if you shed a few tears and/or formulaic in the way that the premise is an old cliché that has been used before (specifically in 1991's Little Man Tate which I haven't seen, but more or less sounds like the same movie), but just because a movie might indeed be full of cliché or admittedly formulaic doesn't mean it's automatically bad. Webb is able to tell this recognizable story in ways that allow it to pop. The director and screenwriter, Tom Flynn, are able to prove certain tropes aren't always bad and that doing the opposite isn't always good by delivering all that is predictable and formulaic about Gifted with a warm and wholly wonderful sincerity that comes straight from the heart.
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