Monday, June 27, 2011

Notes on Film Criticism

One of the most common things that people take note of when film critics review a certain movie is whether said critics liked the film or not, or whether they thought it was good or bad. But here's the thing: Have you really paid attention to what a critic is saying, in terms of why he or she states that a certain film was good or bad?

One thing I've learned about film criticism is that it's not a simple yes-or-no or good-or-bad response. There has to be an good explanation for why you believe that a certain film is worth seeing or if it's not. For instance, say a critic gives a film four stars. Does said critic give said film four stars based on how well the film was made, how well it was casted, or on the contextual elements it presents? These are just some examples for the ways that film reviewers consider not just one but many aspects of a film.

With that in mind, here are a few notes to consider when reviewing or giving your opinions on a film:
- Be honest in what you say and write. Don't say so-and-so about a movie just because other people said so-and-so. This is not about being liked. It's about being truthful in what you see, what you feel, and what you think. Also, be willing to defend where you stand. This is not always an easy thing to do, in terms of how you really feel about a movie, and can take time. Sometimes, you may need to watch a film twice in order to clarify what you really think of it. (I do, sometimes.)
- Research. Obviously, you may and probably will not be able to see every movie there is (and I know I won't--and can't--for sure). But if you're really passionate about film, and want to gain experience, simply watch movies.
- And don't just watch them. Listen to them. This is where the difference between escapism and intellectualism comes in. Escapism refers to the notion of going along with a film, and, in a sense, getting lost in the experience of it. As much as this is a fascinating and poetic notion (and is not necessarly a bad thing for some films), it can also be troubling. There are (many) times where you need to be careful about what you might lose yourself in and what might influence you the wrong way. Intellectuallism refers to the notion of digesting both the contextual and content-related ideas of a film, being willing to talk about them, and discussing their influence, for better or worse.

See you at the movies,

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