In the next few posts I'm going to be looking back over some work I've done on movies I have dissenting opinions on. These are movies where my opinion differs from the norm. Usually, despite being a harsh critic, I give credit where credit is due. That's because I call 'em like I see 'em. I like to think I watch movies pretty carefully, pretty well, and know what I'm talking about. As a critic, this lands me in the position where I have to square what I see with the cold reality of what the consensus on a piece is.
A dissenting opinion is usually, but not necessarily, in the form of taking the high road of disliking a beloved classic. Living in the minority that just doesn't like what other people like. Naturally there are those people who have a taste for something everyone else has rejected, but these people don't come off as bores at cocktail parties.
So what I'm about to embark on over the next few weeks is self indulgent in the sense that I'll be defending, ad nauseam, my dissenting opinion. Saying why what you like is wrong. Digging into the really gross end of negative criticism because it's what I want to do.
The focus of the next five weeks is going to be on Steven Spielberg's 1999 Best Picture nominee Saving Private Ryan. This is a movie which I don't think is all that it's cracked up to be. I have my reasons but as preface I'd like to defend my forthcoming work as being the result of a misunderstanding. When I have a dissenting opinion, even though there's a strong bent of right versus wrong, I want to say that disagreement arrises from individuals differing on what they find salient. Nobody is wrong, but we might not have looked at the same picture closely enough.
Writing negative criticism in the form of a dissenting opinion really requires that you look carefully at the subject of the critique and explain why something is the way that it is, why it is popularly misunderstood, and providing a revisionist reading. The onus is on the dissenter (of course it is, that's why people hate dissenters). However, I hope that it means that I get to write deeper criticism than I ordinarily would.
This is a point of departure where I hope my work on dissenting reviews differs with what the soldiers in Saving Private Ryan would write off as gripes and fellow views would write off as nit-picks. I don't want to take the high road, and the easy road is no more attractive. I want to take the correct road. In general I agree with critics and reviewers. And usually I agree with consensus views--they are based on consensus after all. But sometimes what seems to be the right road is also the road less traveled. So let's beat back some of the weeds on Saving Private Ryan.