Friday, December 01, 2006

The Film Criticism Blog-a-Thon!

Okay I saw this on Matt's web site, and was intrigued about the idea that Andy had about a film criticism Blog-a-thon, so here's my take on it all.

How does a person judge a film? A question asked for some time now. I mean I've always been intrigued by the French New Wave, and most of those filmmakers started as film critics, and I do sometimes here review a film I've seen. It's inevitable I guess. I'm a lover of movies, and so it's a natural progression that I write about them.

But what can I bring to the table that would make my film criticism special or unique. With the internet now there seems to be a new crop of film critics who put more heart into their work then the simple jaded film/TV reviewer does that usually writes for a publication. That's not a bad thing. Passion is good, and I've met some reviewers who came off cold, and just too business like. I guess its par for the course especially if you do writing reviews as a profession. Imagine all the movies and TV shows one needs to see and then put a deadline on it, and I can see where critics can loose their passion. It's the old publish or perish I guess, but how do I judge a film and what makes it work or not work for me is a matter of taste I guess.

Simple put does a movie work? Now this could be on several different levels. One was it entertaining? Did I forget my troubles when the lights went down, and the movie started? Did I find any interest in the characters in the film? Was the story too predictable? Did I know what was going to happen? Did I find it funny? (comedy), scary? (horror), eye opening? (drama), or did I just feel I wasted my valuable time?

Since I studied film in school, and I've actually made a film maybe I can add something to my reviews that would give readers an interesting perspective about the film. I've even worked on several films in different capacities so maybe I can add something different into the mix. I'm not saying I'm an authority in filmmaking, but lets just say I have some knowledge about what goes into the making of a film and leave it at that. In no way does this make me more superior or less superior then anyone else reviewing a film. Like I said earlier it's a matter of taste. Let's just say I'm more aware of what a filmmaker goes through to get his or her film up there on the screen.

Now all that said how do I go about reviewing a movie? If I have a good time, and enjoy it I usual like the film, but I do recognize what type of entertainment I've just seen. Will the movie leave a lasting impression on me? In Matt Riviera’s blog he stated that viewing it again and seeing if it still holds up is a valid test. I kind of agree on that, but if I see a movie, and it doesn't let go even after a week or two after seeing it then I know there is something special in the film. Now this something special may only resonate within me. Maybe the film said something to me, and no one else. After all we do bring EVERYTHING to the table when we review a film. Our hopes, our aspirations, our desires are all there, and a film can touch on all of them or none of them.

But what about the film working as a film? Structure, dialogue, shot composition, editing etc. Don't these all have to do with a films success or failure? I agree a well made film from a filmmaker who knows his or her craft can contribute to the films success immeasurably, but some well known filmmakers have been known to make some really bad films too, so that's only part of the equation.

There are several levels on how a film can affect me. A film like “The Dukes of Hazzard” with Burt Reynolds, and Jessica Simpson may entertain me and give me a laugh or two, but in no certain instance do I consider it a cinema masterpiece. It was simply entertaining, funny, and a good night out, or in this instance a good night in (thanks cable).

But what about a film like “The Departed” which I saw recently in the theater and had mixed feelings on. Did I like it or not? In my review I said I enjoyed the story, and told of its faults or what I believed to be the films faults. I was entertained, and enjoyed the story and characters. Pass or fail isn’t what I’m about. One star, two star, four stars are a bit more my speed, but then again how do you review something. Does a review have ANY merit? Does a person say because of this review I’ll go see this movie, or not. In this day of age where information can flow fast and furious I believe the consumer makes an educated guess. If he or she hears several BAD reviews they might consider seeing it later on DVD. But if that consumer is a fan of a particular star, director, or genre then maybe his or her mind won’t be influenced.

All I can say is that when I see a movie I try to enjoy it. Matt makes a good point in his blog, and that is whether you enjoy a film or not.

“Whether you're a film critic, a cinephile or a cinephage (a French term for people who 'eat' film), you never want analysis to get in the way of your enjoyment of the medium. So it's always perfectly fine to "enjoy first, analyse later"...

I like that piece of advice a lot. It’s something everyone should aspire to even critics, and that’s my two cents.

1 comment:

andyhorbal said...

Thanks for participating in the blog-a-thon--I'm delighted to have a filmmaker's perspective on film criticism represented!

You're absolutely right to echo Matt's sentiment about enjoyment: even when we don't enjoy a given movie, if we forget about how much we enjoy film as a whole we're better off not writing at all, because we won't have anything of value to say.

Thanks again for joining in!