Monday, January 01, 2007

On Film Criticism

Happy new year, for whatever that may mean to you. I'm not big on things like Christmas and New Year. They represent the most significant holiday season, which means I can get to lots of films. Unfortunately, as usual, there's a vacuum of good films right now.

I haven't seen a film for 6 days, so I've resorted to DVD. I've watched Pedro Almodóvar's All About My Mother and Bad Education as part of my research and education. Volver really got me started and these two earlier films have confirmed my observations. I want to see his earlier works to see how his films have evolved. To this end, I have taken out membership at ACMI who have an extensive library of DVDs, videos and 16mm film available to loan. I plan to write an article on the films of Almodóvar in the near future.

Now, for the main purpose of this post. A couple of posts on other film blogs have recently caught my attention. Ray Young on Flickhead has light-heartedly listed some points about film criticism that resonate for me. Summarily they include:
  • I don’t normally read film criticism or reviews
  • A film’s subject matter doesn’t matter. In the end, it’s all in the art of film, the craftsmanship and storytelling.
  • Reviews or critiques should never be read before seeing the film
  • The need to know what a film is “about” before seeing it is an open admission of a closed mind
  • The movie is over even before it started

For more details, check out the page at Flickhead. Ray's position is closer to my own, but contrary to Jonathan Rosenbaum's defence of spoilers.

And over at Last Night With Riviera, Sydney film blogger Matt Riviera has provided a highly enlightening list of 10 Thoughts on Watching and Appreciating Film. To summarise:
  1. Every film is a masterpiece
  2. You are half of the viewing experience
  3. If a film is slow get into the Zone
  4. If a film feels shallow go in overdrive
  5. Get a second opinion (from an unlikely source)
  6. Your assessment of the film is already obsolete
  7. Clear your mind (and the rest will follow)
  8. Read between the lines
  9. Take a break (there's a world beyond the screen)
  10. If any of these approaches get in the way of your enjoyment of the medium, then disregard them entirely
I highly recommend a visit of these sites for further readings. I basically wanted to bookmark the sites for myself but am open to further discussion here.

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