A camera crew follows John Carpenter around, gaining insights into the man and his world.
Big John was a documentary that I could really take or leave, to be honest with you. I can't really pinpoint exactly why, but I can certainly give you a bit more insight.
I think that John Carpenter is undoubtedly a successful director, despite the fact that not many of his movies have been considered huge hits critically, but have gained a huge cult following. I'm most familiar with Halloween
and The Thing
, but Escape from New York
also come to mind. The guy has made some badass movies, if you ask me. So, I was pretty interested to find that a French company decided to make a documentary about the man.
The thing is, while some parts of this documentary are fascinating, other parts of it drag a bit. I thought that the parts when the French film crew would comment on Carpenter's work were just awful. Usually, their dialogue was pretentious, silly film speak that cheers the man endlessly. Don't get me wrong, some of their praise is valid, but I can only hear "Carpenter is a master because he's great" so many times before it starts getting old.
When you watch standard "making of" features, you often see cast and crew patting the back of the director, and this documentary felt a lot like that. Some actors and fellow cast members added some valuable insight, but not enough. The pacing of the documentary also felt a bit off, all over the place. One minute you'd talk about Ghosts of Mars, the next minute it'd be off to something else altogether. Perhaps it was just me, but this pace kind of bored me.
That being said, there's plenty of insight to gain from the man himself, as Carpenter really opens up about his career and beliefs. One thing that is constantly stressed is that Carpenter has never been concerned with making films to please the masses; he just wanted to make films that he himself would enjoy seeing. He was never concerned with intellectual filmmaking, but rather your emotional response to what was happening onscreen.
You'll find out Carpenter's greatest influences in filmmaking, where he went to school, how he has reacted to his less than stellar reviews throughout his career, his opinions on actors like Kurt Russell and Donald Pleasance, and other things you might not care about so much, like John's views on U.S politics. There's no doubt that the man is very interesting, but he almost even seems disinterested throughout this documentary, as if he's told these stories a thousand times. John seems tired and almost a little detached.
After watching a documentary, you should really ask yourself if you know more than you did before you began watching, and if the whole presentation was entertaining to you. The fact is, while I did learn a ton about John Carpenter, the presentation left a bit to be desired, through strange editing, repetitive interviews, and awful production music.
All in all, Big John
is a moderately entertaining documentary that I could really only recommend to true fans of the director, only because I had a hard time paying attention after awhile. There's no doubt that the man deserves this kind of treatment, so maybe you'll want to check it out anyway!
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