Friday, 4 December 2009

The Movie Review: It’s Hard Out There For a Blogger

I don’t believe we realise the importance of our words. I think it was in Iris that Kate Winslet said “Without words, how can one think?” How indeed. I’ve always found it relatively simple to give me thoughts on a particular issue or film. Nonetheless, even the best [or worse] of us are sometimes wary of offering views that are a bit too avant garde or go against the status quo. Sure, the liberal person may scoff at this wariness; but we all know that sometimes in the world [blogging and otherwise] sometimes it’s difficult to be a nonconformist.
It doesn’t matter who’s reading you. It could be five, fifty or a hundred; but you have to be certain that the words you’re using are a true and accurate reflection of how you feel. It does not matter whether or not you’re an authority or not. This is especially accurate when we consider our reviews. We’ve probably all been there before. We see a film that’s been critically acclaimed and experienced nothing but disappointment or even disgust. It may be unethical, but we wonder if we’re wrong. Should we check again? Should we just follow the majority? They must know what they’re talking about. It’s tougher for some than others, and it usually gets easier as we get older but sometimes it’s difficult to have your opinion and keep it.
The other thing about reviewing film is measurement. A thumbs up, thumbs down approach might be too vague, but a meticulous numerical form could be too stratified. And what do you do when you like a movie but don’t think it was that excellently constructed. Or vice versa: you’re faced with a well made but emotionless and clinical piece. Which gets the higher grade? Which is the “better” film? It’s happened to me. I still wonder if I should have given Harry Potter a B or Into Temptation a C+. Sure I’ve never thought of dropping a film from A to B- after a few months, but I’m sure others have. What do you do then? After a week I still cannot decide on a grade for Antichrist.
The end result is that you wonder if you’re “qualified” for this. After all what the f*** do you know about critiquing? I wonder, am I crazy for ranking Cheri with a B+ and Inglourious Basterds with a B-? But then it occurs to me. The issue is not liking a film that no one appreciates, and it’s not hating a film that everyone loves. It all comes down to honesty and integrity. Love Twilight if you must. Hate Revolutionary Road if you must. But if you can’t give me a reason as to why X is better than Y, then something is wrong. If you can’t defend your opinion, you’re probably not worthy of having them.


Univarn said...

Interesting post. Very true, but I think we share similar views on reviewing. I think it all comes down to you give a movie the best score for you at a time, and let everything else sort itself out.

joe burns said...

So true!

The Mad Hatter said...

I like this post a lot. Kinda reminds me of something I went through two years ago when a writer I know tore into me about the ways in which my writing was lacking.

Thinking for ourselves is the best thing we can do as bloggers. We can buy into preconceived hype...but when the lights go down we have to leave all of that aside and be truthful.

This is a great post - keep up the good work!

Anonymous said...

Interesting post! Not to mention your actual opinion on film as an art form - is entertainment alone? entertaining a few houirs of your life? or is it about exploration and experience - forcing us to challenge our perceptions on things. I know that the Anti-Christ's of the world find it difficult to be accepted - as, though artistic, they have very little 'entertainment' value. As a blogger, you have to be clear on where you stand: what do you expect from a film? what do you want it to do for you?

MrJeffery said...

i just feel like i'm on a journey and learning more and more about film as i go. i think it's great to voice why you love a film. even if it goes against the grain! peace.

Andrew: Encore Entertainment said...

univarn at the end of the day it DOES come down to you

the mad hatter people need to get off their high horses and just live and let live. thanks for the kind words.

joe nice to see you agree.

knowingviews i suppose that's why opinions differ. we all go into films with different needs and perceptions.

mr jeffery it definitely is a journey; a never ending one.

Anonymous said...

I have a bad habit of running to Metacritic and checking out a film's reviews after watching it. I need to read the best and the worst review to see why they felt the way they do. Often, the better argument sways me, but perhaps I think the argument is better because it is the one I agree with.

The pressure can be there. What happens if you don't like critical darlings like Precious or Up in the Air? Of course, it is better to be honest about it as your readers can typically tell.

Jude said...

I'm not much of a Review blogger, so when I reviewed Precious (with a mediocre grade of B-) I tried as best as I could to live up to everything this post says: Why? You can't just say B- just because.

I hope I was able to defend my opinion that Precious wasn't a terrific film, certainly not the best of the year.

Andrew: Encore Entertainment said...

james the pressure is there for you to like the conventional favourites...but it gets easier with time...i think.

jude you did a good job of defending your dislike of precious.

Anonymous said...

Interesting post. I found you via The Mad Hatters “Everybody’s Talkin’”. I have always made a point of not grading films, I just give my thoughts and opinions. By the way you say “I still cannot decide on a grade for Antichrist” best to keep it that way, a grade won’t help. Give one star or ten, an A+ or an F- and it won’t make a jot of difference it is still a film that will polarize opinion!

Andrew: Encore Entertainment said...

fandangogroovers the grade definitely is not as important as the reviews. having grades just makes it easier for me to tabulate. however, if you're just reading for the grade it's kind of silly. never actually though about reviewing without a grade - that would be weird for me.