Well, I’ve received a fair amount of feedback about the blog so far and a recurring theme is, why would I want to read 2000 words about a film I haven’t seen? That’s fair criticism, at least if the paradigm to which this is being compared is the “film review” as practiced by men like Roger Ebert, Peter Travers or Kenneth Turan.  One major problem that I find with these reviewers and their style is that they are strictly commercial.  Unlike Frank Zappa, the irony is sadly lacking.  This isn’t to say that film reviewers don’t know how to watch films but the forum in which they must discuss the films is restricted to helping people decide whether or not to spend their money on a ticket or not.  As such, they cannot “spoil” the film by discussing it in too much breadth nor can they “talk over people’s heads” with too much depth.  Rather they must walk a delicate tightrope, titillating the people with witty expositions, covering the “spoilers,” and leaving them with a clear and often silly quantification of their opinion in terms of “stars,” “thumbs” or “tomatoes.”

The truth is, the sort of thing that I’m trying to write is closer to the essays that you’re likely to find in a Criterion DVD, something like Philip Lopate’s essay on Night and Fog or Donald Richie’s essay on Ikiru.  I wouldn’t be so naive as to say that these essays are not also essentially commercial but they are targeted at a different audience, one who has presumably seen the film (you don’t spend $40 on a DVD only to watch it once) and is interested in thinking about the film more deeply (also, you wouldn’t spend $40 on a blockbuster time-passer).

For my own critical versatility I should learn how to write a “review”–perhaps alongside the longer remarks, perhaps instead of them.  Or maybe I should make an artificial delineation of films in release and films no longer in release.  As is customary, today’s films would merit a more commercial, less circumspect appraisal and older films would deserve deeper thought.  Such a delineation doesn’t really make any sense from an artistic perspective but it would probably serve the readers of this blog (in case there are any) better.  There is a certain argument that if the reason that the film is being reviewed is simply because it is newly released, it deserves the treatment of a commercial film review.  If the film has been around for ages, then the only reason it would be worth talking about is that it has some sort of deeper merit.

So we’ll see.  Though I do cherish the freedom of this platform where no one can tell me what to write or how to think, I’ll try to be attentive to feedback.  Film, more than any medium, is fundamentally popular so why not let people have a say?

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