Welcome to “Friday Favorites” which highlight some of my favorite movie-related things.
In light of my recent post about film critics, I decided today’s Friday Favorite could only be Anton Ego’s review from Ratatouille. It’s certainly something that I can relate to, both as a film buff and as something of a critic. And as I’ve said before, I love a good movies speech. Take a look:
Here’s the transcript of this scene, for those who can’t watch the video:
In many ways, the work of a critic is easy. We risk very little, yet enjoy a position over those who offer up their work and their selves to our judgment. We thrive on negative criticism, which is fun to write and to read. But the bitter truth we critics must face is that, in the grand scheme of things, the average piece of junk is probably more meaningful than our criticism designating it so. But there are times when a critic truly risks something, and that is in the discovery and defense of the new. The world is often unkind to new talent, new creations. The new needs friends. Last night, I experienced something new, an extra-ordinary meal from a singularly unexpected source. To say that both the meal and its maker have challenged my preconceptions about fine cooking is a gross understatement. They have rocked me to my core. In the past, I have made no secret of my disdain for Chef Gusteau’s famous motto: ‘Anyone can cook.’ But I realize, only now do I truly understand what he meant. Not everyone can become a great artist, but a great artist can come from anywhere. It is difficult to imagine more humble origins than those of the genius now cooking at Gusteau’s, who is, in this critic’s opinion, nothing less than the finest chef in France. I will be returning to Gusteau’s soon, hungry for more.
I, like most critics, enjoy the discovery of something new. Something that’s not what you expected. That’s always the greatest joy of filmgoing, and it’s what keeps me going back time and time again. It’s why I go into movies with a positive attitude, because until I see something it’s always an unknown, and within the unknown resides promise.
I also love the bit about how the “average piece of junk” is probably more meaningful than any criticism or analysis of it. I don’t write these reviews and analyses because I think I know best, or because I’m right. Actually, the odds are I’m wrong, and it’s been pointed to me many times. I write them because I enjoy it, and because it helps me connect with movies in a deeper way. And simply because I love talking about them.
For me, Anton Ego is one of the greatest characters ever created. The moment when he eats the ratatouille is one of my all time favorites (look for that in another edition of Friday Favorites). Of course, it helps that Peter O’Toole voices him.
What do you think? Is there anything more exciting than the possibility of being surprised by a work of art? Do critics have a place, even if criticism is inherently meaningless? Let me know in the commments!