Amateur Film Critic: Midnight Special

I am unqualified to critique film. But I will watch anything you ask me to, and I will have all manner of bad opinions about it. Today in Amateur Film Critic: Midnight Special.

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Welcome to Amateur Critic, Film Edition.

I have decided to commit to watching and writing about every single TV show or movie anyone asks me to. Good, bad, mainstream, obscure, insane, boring, whatever you’ve got. I’ll watch it, I’ll write about it, and I’ll try to make it interesting. The first request I got was for the movie Midnight Special, a science-fiction thriller directed by Jeff Nichols in theaters now. 

I went into this movie knowing basically nothing about it, with zero expectations. Honestly, when I committed to watching literally anything asked of me, I expected to get some intentionally painful suggestions. (I still hope I do. Those will be fun to review.) However, for my first reader suggestion, I was blessed with a quality film instead. This is a good movie. It is well-shot, well-acted and well-plotted. 

And oh baby let me tell you about the pacing of this plot. Such precisely executed, gradually fleshed-out exposition is that shit I live for. This movie teases you with information, keeping you on a need-to-know basis all the way through the end. It haunts you with each small mystery until the buildup becomes more than you can stand. When it finally answers each question, that answer just incites more curiosity. God, it is torturous, but in the best way. 

You will be left with several unanswered questions. This is not a problem for me. I find a little bit of mystery and uncertainty to be more engaging than over-resolved plot lines fraught with ham-fisted exposition. However, if you find that sort of vague, open-ended storytelling that emphasizes tone and experience over clarity and logic to be annoying, then you will not feel great when this movie ends. Just a heads up.

While Midnight Special was a fantastic intellectual experience, it didn’t have much of an emotional effect on me. That’s the price of keeping the audience juuuust on the outside of the story, looking in, but mostly in the dark. It’s difficult to get really attached or immersed. You’re always an observer, never really a part of the experience.

In the end, I regard Midnight Special exactly the way I would regard an incredibly technically skilled lover to whom I felt no real emotional connection. It’s an enjoyable experience which I’d gladly recommend (and for many folks, it would be an absolute ideal situation), but it’s not something I ultimately feel like I need to keep around in my life or think about extensively. You gotta hit me in the heartstrings if you want my full esteem.

Got a TV show you want someone to scope out for you before you watch it? Want the satisfaction of getting someone to talk about that movie you love that no one else has seen? Think it would be hilarious to make someone write a review of something truly terrible? Whatever you’ve got for me, I’ll take it on. Just leave a comment below or find me online.

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