Wednesday, 17 September 2014

Vale Margaret and David


It is always hard when a favourite television show ends. The characters have become part of your life, you think of them as friends. You know their quirks, their likes and dislikes, and you are attached to their relationships to each other. Knowing you will never seeing them do anything new again is sad.

Yesterday, Australia's most famous film critics, Margaret Pomeranz and David Stratton, announced that their 28-year partnership would finish at the end of this year; they are retiring. For those of you outside of Australia, Margaret and David are very similar to Gene Siskel and Roger Ebert; they have a television show called At the Movies where they review the week's releases, each giving a rating out of 5-stars. Before At the Movies, which has been running for 10 years, they had The Movie Show on another channel that ran for 18 years.
They are famous for their inability to agree, though they do not disagree nearly as much as people think they do; they are more likely to like or dislike a film for different reasons. But when they do disagree, it is a joy to watch! Cries of 'Oh Margaret' and 'Oh David' would be traded between the chairs, though it always stopped short of insult. In recent years they added a segment where they would pick a classic and explain why it was so wonderful. These classics are international and Australian classics, and it is rare that they disagree with the choice.

Like any movie-lover, they have their bugbears. David absolutely hates 'shaky-cam,' while Margaret is rarely taken with animation (though she loved the Toy Story series). David also deeply dislikes Lars von Trier. When Melancholia came out Margaret gave it 5 stars, while David could only manage 2.5.
They are incredibly supportive of the Australian film industry, encouraging audiences to embrace local productions and get over 'cultural cringe.' They both gave Samson and Delilah (2009) 5 stars, calling it 'one of the most wonderful films this country has ever produced.' David even praised the handheld camera work, calling it 'an absolute object lesson' in how to use it. The affection for them is so great, and they are so well-respected that for their 25th year together, they had a special show where Cate Blanchett and Geoffrey Rush hosted, and played them. 

Personally, they are one of the reasons I love films so much. I started watching them around 2005, and have absorbed their focus on all aspects of filmmaking. They always make mention of the screenplay, the cinematography, the direction, the director's background, films in a similar vein to the one being discussed; and they have done so with passion and enthusiasm. They were the first to teach me that cinema can be art as well as entertainment, and that the best films are usually both.
Double acts don't come much better!

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