A cautionary tale of how not to conduct a press junket interview…
It’s been known for directors and actors to get a little bit…shirty when discussing their films. They’ve worked for weeks, months and years on their projects, and sadly the success and failure of their work often comes down to a big opening weekend, good word of mouth, and the film’s ability to have the legs to stay in the spotlight over a sustained period. The press junkets that the filmmakers tackle upon a film’s release are essentially their chance to plug their movie. Someone though seems to have forgotten to tell BBC journalist Adam Rosser that he is not Jeremy Paxman, and that he is not grilling politicians on Newsnight. Take a look at his recent interview with Warcraft director Duncan Jones….
His opening question sets the tone:
“Duncan, should this have been one film?”
And on he goes:
“Hmm, and would you be disappointed if I said that I don’t have a sense of what Azeroth is?”
It’s relentless, uncomfortable viewing. Out come his pre-prepared notes and book for a little analogy, along with this doozy of a question:
“Were you the right man to write the script, but the wrong man to make the film?”
It’s clumsy at best and rude at worst. Duncan Jones, however, handles it like a pro. A bemused pro, but a pro nonetheless. I think it’s fair to say that there’s a right and a wrong approach to film analysis. I certainly don’t claim to be a professional (I wouldn’t even claim to be good, I’ll leave that for you to decide), but I am a believer of reviewing in context. For example, I gave 10 Cloverfield Lane (2016) 5 stars, and would give Vertigo (1958) 5 stars, if I were to review it. That doesn’t mean that they are necessarily directly comparable. I base my opinions and analysis on each film’s contemporaries and counterparts. It’s unfair to compare Citizen Kane to Step Up 3, surely? Just like (in my opinion) it’s unfair for Rosser to be hypercritical of Warcraft, a big, loud summer movie. Review in context, interview in context. He is, of course, well within his rights to ask more in depth questions, yet how he frames them comes across as misguided.
I’m not saying that blockbuster fare shouldn’t be open to analysis. It absolutely should. There’s a time and a place for in depth film discussion, but a 5 minute press junket interview probably isn’t it. Nor should the analysis be placed on overcomplicating a fantastical world. As Mr. Jones put it:
“…large numbers of fans have actually started to see the film…and they seem to get it, and understand the simple side of it, which is that green magic is bad, and green magic poisons you. “
It’s just not that complicated.