The Four Types of Spoilers and How Reviewers Should Handle Them | Film | Los Angeles | Los Angeles News and Events | LA Weekly
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The Four Types of Spoilers and How Reviewers Should Handle Them 

A rough and inevitably incomplete guide to the taxonomy of spoilers

Thursday, Oct 31 2013
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But not the only bad guy! I'm convinced Abrams implored critics to protect the fake secret of Cumberbatch's character as an act of misdirection, to keep the film's legitimate narrative and formal spoilers from leaking—perhaps to keep audiences from realizing it was part remake. I didn't love the movie he made. But this plea to critics not to throw his movie into the briar patch was fairly brilliant.

Recommendation: Spoil on, you crazy diamond. Your readers may cry for your head, but you'll know that you were right.

HOP, SKIP, JUMP TO THE END

click to flip through (2) A narrative spoiler in Star Wars: Episode V - The Empire Strikes Back
  • A narrative spoiler in Star Wars: Episode V - The Empire Strikes Back
 
 

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The pervasive notion that knowing the end cheapens the journey calls out the way stories by their very nature distort reality, despite our deep need to use them to frame our lives.

This is a recurring theme in the films of Christopher Nolan, possibly the 21st century's most skillful cinematic wool-puller. All of his films have spoilable elements, but it's his criminally under-seen 2006 thriller The Prestige, which follows a rivalry among 19th-century illusionists, that best expresses the narrative power of withholding. With typical Nolan symmetry, the story follows the three-part structure of the illusions its characters perform, giving us a "pledge," a "turn" and, finally, a "prestige." The audience's natural inclination is to try to deduce the rational explanation for the seemingly impossible thing the magician has just shown them. But: "You don't really want to work it out. You want to be fooled," Michael Caine warns us in narration that bookends the film.

It's the same when we read reviews. We read them because we think we want some context for the play or the film or whatever, but often we don't. I read them because I, like everyone else, am cursed to experience each piece of art I encounter filtered through the narrow view-slit of my own tastes, biases, education and experience. I only see what I can see. But good critics can show me what they saw. Stick with that, why don't you.


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