What review do our journalists regret writing? Have they ever had too harsh words for artists or works? Or, on the contrary, were they too enthusiastic? On the occasion of the introduction of odds out of 10 in The PressHere are their testimonials.
Posted at 7:00 a.m.
Emilie Côté: Madonna’s age
It’s particularly stressful to write from the Bell Centre. The 20,000 or so people present paid dearly for their tickets. They want their money’s worth, not be told they’ve seen a bad show. The writing conditions are also difficult. The show can start at 9:30 p.m. and end at 11:30 p.m., just before our cut-off time. Over time, technology has allowed us to attend shows until the end and not go back to the newspaper to write our reports. However, we now write our texts live with our laptops on our knees under the shrill cries of the crowd. Hot writing comes with its own set of risks of making typos or song title mistakes. But above all there is the danger of writing things that we would have excluded from our final version with more hindsight. This was the case with my – rather harsh – review of Madonna’s show at the Bell Center in 2015 for her tour Rebel Heart. I had seen the pop star several times before, but this time I was disappointed. Now, I shouldn’t have shown ageism as I did by emphasizing his age of 57 three times. My most sincere apologies, Madonna!
Chantal Guy: trusting yourself
I have written good and bad reviews in my career, but there is only one that bothers me, even if it is rather positive, because it was not written with all my sincerity. I was a young novice journalist, who lacked self-confidence, and I had seen in press screenings The great seduction by Jean-François Pouliot, from a screenplay by Ken Scott. In the room, I was surrounded by cynical old critics from trade magazines who had spent their time bitching at the film and, anxious to be taken seriously, I almost forced myself to include lame caveats to my review – as well as dubious parallels on menopause. In truth, I really liked that film and I should have listened to my instincts rather than letting myself be influenced by embittered spectators. I understood that you can make mistakes when writing a review – it happens often – but that you always have to be in tune with yourself when you practice this profession. Because one does not write for colleagues or for artists, but for the reader of the newspaper and for oneself.
Stéphanie Morin: the art of spoiling your pleasure
If allowed, I would probably rewrite the review of Scenes from married life, presented at the Théâtre de Quat’Sous in 2019. This play had been adapted from the mythical film by Ingmar Bergman by James Hyndman, who also signed his first production and played the main role of Johan. False good idea on my part: to prepare myself, I decided to watch the film the day before the premiere. It is difficult to do better to scramble your mind and spoil your pleasure. Suddenly, I had trouble accepting Hyndman’s proposal which, in my eyes, lacked inspiration. The adaptation presented on the boards could not bear comparison with the Bergmanian masterpiece. Necessarily. A posteriori, this production had many qualities, particularly in terms of the very inventive scenography and the interpretation. I have since understood that it is sometimes necessary to avoid plunging up to the neck in novels or films which serve as inspiration for the performing arts. And I no longer read the dramatic texts before attending the shows. To be seduced, you have to know how to keep a certain amount of virginity…
Alexandre Vigneault: too hard with Natasha St-Pier
20 years ago, Natasha St-Pier launched Of love the best, his second record, which I had described as predictable and disposable. I was even harsher when she went on stage at the Monument-National in May 2002: “She is sometimes so absent that we spend most of our time looking elsewhere, a musician, an instrument, the neighbor on the right, the tips of his shoes… Boredom, what,” I wrote. It wasn’t a good show, and his songs didn’t transcend anything. However, I should have taken her for what she was at that time: a singer at the start of her career. Looking up at commercial pop was also a reflex of young critics trying to position themselves among other critics. Mistake. You don’t have to love everything, but approaching things with contempt is no better than being complacent. Ten years later, during a revival of the musical Don Juan, I caught up a little: she had the richest voice of the entire cast, which she largely dominated. I have written it. Quite simply.
Danielle Bonneau: over-enthusiasm
For my first assignment in film, I was catapulted to Los Angeles for the release of the live-action version of the great Disney classic, Dumbo. It was before the pandemic, when studios invited a limited number of journalists to meet the artisans of their films. I found myself in the same room as the famous director Tim Burton, with about fifteen members of the international press. I attended a conference that included Danny DeVito, Michael Keaton, Colin Farrell and Eva Green. When it came time to write the review, I was over-enthusiastic. I was seduced by the polished images and was touched by the candor of the cute elephant Dumbo. But I didn’t have the distance required to recognize the weakness of the characters and the too many contortions of the script, which never allowed the story to take off. I awarded 4 stars to the feature film, which has practically fallen into oblivion. I have since become much more selective.
Marc Cassivi: a title to forget
It’s not so much a review that I regret as its title. It was at the time when we did not yet give ratings to films. I was in my mid-20s and had my review of the movie done Inseparable by Michel Couvelard with the title “Un film français”, which had an air of prejudice and generalization. I absolutely don’t remember Couvelard’s first (and only) feature film, which “bores a bit with its slowness, lack of fantasy and inspiration”, I wrote. It starred Jean-Pierre Darroussin and Catherine Frot, “so just together in the irresistible A family resemblance I added. On the other hand, I remember that my friend Alexandre reproached me, with good reason, for this very bad title.
Pascal LeBlanc: I liked the last Star Wars (too much)
The universe created by George Lucas has fascinated me since childhood. As for many, the first trilogy is the source of my unfailing love. So, in 1999, when, for the first time in my life, I was going to see a new episode in theaters, my expectations were equaled only by my haste. The disappointment was enormous. I liked the next two movies more, but nothing like the originals. So, in 2015, when a third trilogy was launched, my optimism was moderate. The Force Awakens managed to give me hope. Not having learned from my mistakes, I bet on The Last Jedi to amaze me. The film has some great moments, but too many atrocious passages. So, when the conclusion of this saga came, I didn’t expect anything anymore. Much to my delight, I loved it! Under the circumstances, I thought JJ Abrams came full circle admirably. I didn’t like it as much The Rise of Skywalker when I saw it again – its flaws became apparent to me – but it is far from being the worst of the series, despite what some “fans” keep claiming.
Dominic Tardif: I regret my first time
It is fashionable, among some bitter artists, to say that no child has ever dreamed of becoming a critic, in other words, that it can only be a laughable plan B. And I am happy , every time I hear such nonsense, to tell them (in my head) that I wrote my first review at the tender age of 11, in the school newspaper Les Terrasses de Trois-Rivières-Ouest. The subject was All the Pain Money Can Buysecond album of the Fastball formation, which knew its hour of glory thanks to the song The Way and who will undoubtedly thank me one day for having proclaimed, with the words of a kid, that this record would mark the history of rock. In retrospect, my text marked above all the beginning of a long list of criticisms that I would rewrite in different terms if I had the opportunity, although I still try, at 36, to remain faithful to the overflowing enthusiasm young Dominic, for whom Claude Rajotte was like a spiritual guide. And Fastball? The band didn’t make rock history, but will be performing Saturday at Adventureland Campground, a campground in Altoona, Pennsylvania.