Sunday 19 January 2020

James Dempsey: It’s too early to give Movie Show the flick despite critical savaging

Daniel Craig.
Daniel Craig.

EVERYONE’S a critic, so they say. That’s what the makers of RTÉ2’s new weekly film review programme, The Movie Show, are waking up to this morning after last night’s second episode followed in a similar vein to the previous week’s debut.

Over a decade after Dave Fanning’s fast-paced forensics of the week’s cinematic fare was cancelled by Montrose management, The Movie Show has returned to our airwaves in a very different guise. Gone is Fanning, his tiny set and his direct interaction with the camera. Instead, this version sees a seven-person team guide us through the week’s offerings: two presenters, who introduce a team of three roving reporters (providing the bants with whichever stars are currently on a press junket) and two film critics, whose already short reviews are interrupted by successive clips or chats with either or both of the presenters.

The programme receives considerable funding from a car brand, which retains the rights for direct product placement and maintains some editorial input into the show’s output. This is part of a move by RTÉ to reduce costs but continue to provide home-produced television, and is known in the industry as advertising funded programming. AFP is responsible for the corner shop in Carrigstown becoming a Spar, a brand which also funds the kitchen heroics of television cook Donal Skehan.

So far, the response to The Movie Show has been lukewarm, its critics on Twitter and weighing in heavily to attack the show’s light approach to film criticism. A constant recurring argument is that the presenters, Mairead Farrell and Eoghan McDermott, along with their troupe of underlings are too young to accurately pick apart the week’s new releases, and that a more seasoned (ie, older) person would have more gravity when dispensing stars or providing a proverbial thumbs-up.

The ridiculous and unjust ageist bias of this aside, the problem with the Movie Show’s reviews is that there simply aren’t enough of them. Paltry seconds of opinion are offered forth, but only after the glossy interviews have aired, with the show essentially becoming Xposé at the Movies. Having gone to the effort to employ additional people to do the actual reviewing, the show would be best served by allowing them to do so, rather than assuming we want to watch a back and forth conversation that takes twice the time to do half the job.

However, the Movie Show is to be applauded for at least securing interviews with bona fide stars and dedicating some of its running time to exploring the oft-overlooked aspects of the movie-making business. For example, last week’s episode featured an interview with Seamus McGarvey, the Oscar-nominated cinematographer from Armagh, as well as interviews with Daniel Craig and his current Bond-girl squeeze, Bérénice Marlohe.

Albeit the choice of the interviewer, “Nordy” Eoghan Doherty, to ask her if she had to prove she wasn’t a man to secure the role was somewhat left field.

That said, were the critics on the Movie Show to have gone for a robust form of criticism, like that seen on the arts review show The Works with John Kelly, they would have come in for some of it themselves as well. It is difficult to strike a balance when presenting one’s thoughts as gospel, particularly when everybody is capable of forming their own. Come on too strict, and they’re accused of being a po-faced elitist snob, hating all popular movies, refusing to turn off their brains and scoffing at the entertainment quality of a big explosion and a busty starlet.

Perhaps the most telling thing about The Movie Show is its title. It doesn’t say “reviews” or “criticism” on the tin, so perhaps its remit is to flog the film to the public, rather than to flog the filmmaker for work? Either way, after only two episodes the show is still finding its footing, and unlike the films it reviews, it can adapt from it limitations. One to watch, at least for now.

Follow James: @jim_on_a_whim

Today's news headlines, directly to your inbox every morning.

Don't Miss