Thursday, 7 June 2012

Blowing Out the Candles (A Manifesto and other Birthday Musings on the Year ahead)

I’m generally ho-hum on the significance of milestones, but yesterday was my birthday and best thing about milestones the excuse it gives you to cast down gauntlets and make promises and whatnot. This is a film blog (as opposed to a life one), so movie promises in celebration of said birthday ahead.

1. A Year of Best Supporting Actors
Remember my Best Supporting Actor project? Goals are fun. Movie goals are exciting. Oscar related movie goals are the best. The best supporting actors are often the most forgotten. I promise to get through at least six years of this project before next June. I’ll be taking a look at the 1961 supporting actor race next month. (previously in the project)

2. A Year of Old and New
I have a bad habit of only doing official reviews of current cinematic release, even though one of the ultimate purposes of this is to operate as a scrapbook for my cinematic involvement generally. I often wonder, to myself, why discussion of film (and television, too) seems so averse to looking back. We’ll look way back to the classics but we’re not as likely to look back to recent past. So, in the year ahead, I’ll try to write, as much as possible, about what I see – even if it’s not current.

3. A Year of Productivity
I’ve been promising this sporadically for some time, but allow me the conceit of saying that a milestone has rejuvenated me. I’ve been neglectful of the blog to some extent, extenuating and mitigating factors contributed, so this is something of a way to re-focus my attention. It’s not my blog anniversary (although, with my blog being “born” on January 8, it’s my blog’s half-birthday, or thereabouts) so, it’s timely.

In lieu of birthday flowers, read my blogger manifesto and leave a movie at the jump…
4. A Year of Efficiency
On twitter the worm has turned again and we’re back to discussing the worth of critics, how they should critique & etc. It can all become a bit unnecessarily tedious. More on that later in the week, maybe. I think that there’s a tendency sometimes for small blogs to throw their hands up in the air and decide since they’re not “big” they don’t play a role. And, maybe the role is infinitesimal, but nothing really works without focus, right? And if I want to increase my productivity (above), I need to increase my efficiency. So, 21 vows for the year ahead. A manifesto, if you will (inspired by Christopher Caggiano)
  • I will critique what is within the frame, not what is without. i.e. I will focus on the result and not speculate on the intent.
  • I will let my review take its own shape rather than follow a strict formula.
  • I will not object to machinations of characters on moral grounds. Thus, I will remember that characters are as such and not indict them as I would real people.
  • I will try as much to avoid superfluous adjectives and (especially) adverbs that add little meaning.
  • I will be specific and honest.
  • I will not be afraid or embarrassed to be specific and honest.
  • I will critique what I see, not what I want. Thus, I will not lament on who should have been cast, who should have directed.
  • I will excise sentences in reviews which could apply to any work, and not the one being discussed alone.
  • I will always hope for goodness and avoid cynicism as much as I can.
  • I will vary my sentence length for the reader’s sake.
  • I will remember that I am a critic, even if it’s just for a small venue.
  • I will write to start conversations about film and television and not to act as an end-all.
  • I will avoid unnecessary nastiness and destructive criticism.
  • I will not make a statement without attempting to support it with evidence from the film.
  • I will be respectful of the (visible and invisible) reader.
  • I will acknowledge that true objectivity is an unfeasible prospect, thus I will write from a personal standpoint but avoid unnecessary prejudice.
  • I will attempt to evaluate and discuss the story, not retell it.
  • I will avoid plot spoilers using them only when necessary.
  • I will never stop trying to add to my knowledge of the two mediums.
  • I will continue to include a grade for films, even as I continue to believe that grades don’t say everything.
  • I will make mistakes, but try to be better next time. 

5. A Year of New…ish
I was supposed to celebrate my birthday a day late by rewatching The English Patient (here is why), but shenanigans ensued so I’m saving it for Saturday along with another film I planned to watch today – Cameron Crowe’s Elizabethtown. I might have seen it before, but I can’t remember a thing – so it counts as a new film. I’m seeing it because Nick (Cinema Romantico) loves it, and the way he speaks of it makes it sound like a life-changing experience. Perhaps, I won’t feel the same – but I’m opening to a life-changing experience. Do me a solid and suggest me some that I’ve not seen. I’ll stop at 21 (if we reach that far.)

Nick (Cinema Romantico) / Elizabethtown
Anna (Defiant Success) / Sweet Smell of Success (which I promised to watch one year ago, soon…)

More to come on the blog. As you were.


MovieNut14 said...

At least I watch the films you love near and dear practically within the same week of saying I would. Just saying.

But on a more serious note, I always like it when you have a new post. Hope to see more from you. Oh, and happy belated birthday.

Nick Prigge said...

A noble manifesto. And I would love to read your thoughts on more older films.

I will state for the record yet again that I fear your reaction to "Elizabethtown." But, I don't know. We're on the same page fairly often. Perhaps its flaws will just roll off you like rain drops (?). Happy birthday!

blake said...

Awesome manifesto man. I wish I could adhere to such strict rules. Your third bullet point really got me thinking... Perhaps I judge characters too much like real people.

Runs Like A Gay said...

Happy belated birthday.

That is an incredible manifesto for reviews. Do you mind if I nick it and place it on my desk?

Andrew: Encore Entertainment said...

anna how charming and gallant a compliment. thanks much.

nick thoughts will be rolled out soon. (also, noble in theory. hopefully i make good on it.)

blake i had to learn that one the hard way from lit class and analysing too many books in real life contexts.

ben "nick" by all means. sharing is caring...or something like that.