Good day fellow film followers and fans of the finer things in life. (Don’t you just love alliteration?). I normally write to you separately regarding these two matters, but today there appears to be an overlap. I assume you avidly read both columns anyway, no? But in case you were wondering, here is what triggered this blatant disregard for the rules. For the first time ever I felt compelled to write a negative film review. I pondered for a while, as the thought of putting somebody off watching a film they might enjoy did not sit right with me. It got me thinking, dangerous I know, but I did it anyway. My taste in films may not be the same as yours. Then I extended the thought into, ‘actually, my taste in everything might not be the same as yours’.
As I sat down with Goldie Hawn my long-haired-Golden-Retriever to watch one of Hollywood’s latest offerings, my expectations were fairly high. The lead actress is one of my faves, as is the supporting actor. Both have done incredible work over the years, and when this happens, as a viewer I tend to feel safe. Boy was my safety net soon removed. What transpired on my screen over the next few hours was nothing short of a crime. Adapted from a well-known novel with no real care, the screenplay was clunky, the direction atrocious and the acting straight out of am-dram, but without any of the charm.
My desire to share this with you and prevent any of you from making the same mistake I made rose in conjunction with the end credits. However, as I said, I did a little thinking first. I did not want to fall into the trap of your run-of-the-mill film critic. I like to think of myself as a film fan first and foremost, and this column is like having a weekly chat with dear friends. And as such, the wise words of Peter Ustinov often ring in my ears when I sit down to type, “Critics spend an awful lot of time looking for the wrong word. And they usually find it”.
Back to taste. My taste in films is as eclectic as my taste in friends. And if you know me well, you will be well aware how disparate the plethora of friends I hold close to my heart actually is; in a truly scrumptious way. I have mentioned this before, but so much so that not all of them have met. There are some that I know would just not get on, but I adore all of them. That philosophy spreads through the heart of nearly everything I like. I get as much pleasure from fine dining as I do a greasy kebab after the cinema. Yet I still think I have impeccable taste in food. You see, taste is objective. In my opinion, and there are other people far more qualified to talk about it who agree, there is no such thing as good taste. The artist Lucian Freud once declared this exact sentiment, and quantified it by saying that we ‘just like what we like’.
We spend so much time caring about what other people think, that we often compromise our authenticity for fear of ridicule. Particularly in Malta, where I see much more conformity than I do in the UK, where ‘bad taste’ is invariably passed off as eccentricity. I am not patriotic in the slightest, as those who spend time in my presence will know, but one of the things I love about spending time in the UK, actually, make that London, is the differences in taste I see all around me. From fashion and interior design to food and film. Whatever, or whoever you fancy, there is usually someone around who agrees with you and an establishment that will cater to your every need. And I for one find it refreshing to know that however good or bad other people may think my taste is, someone out there wholeheartedly agrees with me.