Mary Poppins Returns
Mission: Impossible - Fallout
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All Critics (12)
| Top Critics (5)
| Fresh (6)
| Rotten (6)
| DVD (2)
This is a bitter, uncompromising movie, and although it isn't quite successful it is fascinating and important.
There's no denying Watkins' ambition and intelligence in this satire of the rock world being used by the Establishment... but much of the acting is poor, while the tone is frequently far too hysterical for its own good.
Peter Watkins's hysterical vision of rock and roll fascism was timely in 1967, though it now seems too much a stern warning to youth to be taken seriously.
Trouble with Privilege is that it cannot make up its mind whether it's a crusading film for the intelligentsia or a snide, 'with it' comedy.
Ultimately, Privilege is less a picture than a frame.
One can imagine a good many ways it might have been done. What was not foreseeable is the didactic, self-absorbed and perilously self- indulgent tone the film actually takes.
[Watkins] blends ironic comedy and social commentary to disconcerting effect, and Jones delivers an introverted, masochistic performance very different from the stereotyped image of the studly rock idol.
It's filled with confidence, but little conviction.
A raging and thoroughgoing satire of pop messiah-dom and media puppetry
Watkins doesn't offer any pretense of subtlety in his brash portrait of pop stardom and the entertainment industry as the opiate of the masses...
Stanley Kubrick's "A Clockwork Orange" (1971) picked up the same storyline and most thought he was a genius for doing so.
While not primarily intended as prophecy, Watkins's tale of Shorter's reign and fall has resonances of celebrity activism from Bob Geldof to globe-hopping lobbyist Bono.
Made in 1967, "Privilege" at first seems to be little more than just a reaction against Beatlemania as it starts with a ticker tape parade for rock star Steven Shorter(Paul Jones) in his home town of Birmingham, England.(If Jones' performance appears to be affectless, it might be on purpose, as the general idea here is to make Shorter look like he is undeserving of all the attention.) That is before a conceptual on-stage performance that puts his mainly female audience in hysterics, with a few looking like they are on the verge of an orgasm.
But even at this early stage in his career, director Peter Watkins has bigger fish to fry than just celebrity with this thought-provoking, intelligent and powerful movie that is also the most creatively filmed of his docufictions. Set in the near future, this could also be our present, as the film is prescient about many things including music videos(recalling Shorter's performance on stage), the abomination of reality television(you will never be able to watch a promo for 'American Idol' the same way ever again) and Tony Blair's New Labour. In this world of almost one political party, there is conformity across the board, beginning from the top, and eventually laterally applied at the lower levels of society. The powers that be have co-opted and commodified Shorter, and through him, rebellion, so much that Vanessa(Jean Shrimpton), who has been hired to paint his portrait, is the only person not in awe of him. And whereas Ken Russell saw the rock star as god, Watkins sees religion as just another business to corrupt the rock star.
I'm guessing this is probably one of the earliest examples of a "mocumentary", which is impressive. What is also impressive is how eerily prophetic it is, to spite it's (sometimes) painfully dated moments.
A telling look at the making, selling and ultimate distruction of a pop star. It is both campy and tragic. With some very interesting (and over the top) themes and visuals.
It is no doubt used as a training film for the "talent" teams at Disney, who seem to think that every child actor needs to have a recording career and every child singer an acting career. And above all else - sell, sell, sell. There is no room for individual creativity, expression, integrity or (heaven forbid) dignity...use them until they are are no longer sellable and them kick them to the curb.
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