Rod White introduces the July 2015 brochure

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Mon 15 Jun 2015

Rod White introduces the July 2015 brochure

Film reviews, and the negative side of positivity...

I do wish film critics and reviewers would stop writing positive reviews for bad* films. I know how naïve and daft that sounds, given that the appreciation of cinema is as much in the eye of the beholder as anything else, but it sure makes my job harder (bless...). Good reviews raise expectations across the board: of the people selling them and of the people thinking they might want to watch them. Consequently, us poor exhibitors get pressure to show these bad* films... from both ends! Conversely, almost, critics/reviewers are often very harsh on films that, actually, will be very well thought of by large swathes of the cinemagoing public, though those films are more likely to be review-proof. It's a minefield! (*When I say bad films, I am referring to films I would consider to be not good... objectivity, hopefully, applied!)

It's all very well us showing any film for which a positive review can be found, but - beyond the fact there would be far too many of them - we have to think about whether, ultimately, you would thank us for it. Hopefully, we only rarely get that wrong. Most critics and reviewers don't often consider that which we simply must: what might audiences make of the film? It's very easy to write a glowing review demonstrating your extraordinary insight and singular intelligence, when you're never likely to be held to direct account for your judgement in a way an admission-charging, 'curated' cinema like this one, believe you me, often is. And if there's a film you've read a few decent reviews of that you think might tickle your fancy, and we're not showing it, it's likely because we think those reviews are... well... misleading.

So, Dear Film Reviewer, spare a thought for us poor film programmers when you're working on your legacy and reputation as iconoclast, controversialist or visionary aesthete. Someone somewhere is likely 'picking up the tab' for your largesse!

And now July's films, at least one of which you will currently not find any reviews for anywhere, so 'hot off the press' is it... Cleanse your 'arthouse' palate immediately post-EIFF with the best blockbuster re-boot in many a year, Mad Max: Fury Road (we've thrown on the first two Mel Gibson ones too, for good measure), before getting all serious again with Alex Gibney's study of the Church of Scientology, Going Clear: Scientology and the Prison of Belief. While you're in the mood for documentary, check out Asif (Senna) Kapadia's quite brilliant Amy, which details, in similar style to Senna, the all-too-brief life and untimely death of the incredible Amy Winehouse; or even Wim Wenders' wonderful The Salt of the Earth, a profile of social documentary photographer (and oh so much more) Sebastião Salgado; or both! By now you'll be longing for some narrative fiction I'm sure, so soar to the musical heights of Handel's Messiah with the boys in The Choir (under the tutelage of Dustin Hoffman), and then have a right good laugh with Robert Carlyle's directorial debut, the marvellous, Glasgow-set, jet-black comedy (and EIFF's recent opening film), The Legend of Barney Thomson.

If that's all a bit too 'current' for you, and you subscribe to the view of our sometime chief projectionist that "all the best films have already been made", the month is spread through with some classics from Orson Welles (in this his centenary year), including restorations of two of the best films ever made, The Third Man and Touch of Evil (two films that are NEVER EVER out of my top 5 of all time) and the rarely seen, finally available, Mr Welles' favourite of all his films, Chimes at Midnight.

There, not a bad* film among them!

Rod White, Head of Filmhouse

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