What My Film Reviews Mean

The Critic (Gracie Pictures)

In many ways it’s more important that people read the following than My Rating Scale for it will allow you to understand my philosophy on film criticism:

Anyone who claims they have nothing else to learn is a liar. Part of why I have found my time film writing valuable is because I am constantly learning and re-learning things because you can never really stop. Similarly, I will never disable commenting (no matter how much I may want to at times) because on occasion there will be a thoughtful reader who will engage you in an actual conversation and make you examine your thought process and have you come to realization. It’s not even a question of being right or wrong about something but just understanding how you reach your conclusions or a truth you couldn’t put into words yet, an epiphany if you will. Recently when discussing my piece on Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close I realized my philosophy on film reviews is as follows:

I just try as accurately as I can to convey what my feelings are and why such that the reader can draw his/her own conclusions. I never presume my opinion to be more “right” I just always try to logically explain it.

That’s as simply as I can put it but I’d add the caveats that I’m not a fan of synopses in reviews (they can be found in many places, I’d go to official film-related sources for those), I am also by the above definition not a consumer advocate in strictest terms. Many times when I read a well-written review someone’s reasons for disliking it will compel me to go for I know I may like it for those same reasons. The key to choosing critiques to read is clarity of opinion and not taking the writer’s word for it. There will be no one in the world who shares all the same thoughts on films as you. We all have slightly different perspectives. Therefore you want to find someone who can accurately convey rather specifically why they liked/disliked a film and read them. No one reviewer’s word is gospel.

Lastly, and this is a little similar to the above, while I apologize for this, I also cannot and do not provide parental advice regarding appropriateness of material. There are myriad reasons: first, each parent has his/her standards; two, the MPAA’s standards may not be yours or mine regarding appropriateness (they may either be too strict or too liberal). Third, it’s not something I often consider in terms of a review. If you ask me in a comment I will do my best to address specific concerns of profanity, nudity, etc. However, for better sources the IMDb usually has a parent’s guide for titles with very detailed explications of things that may be objectionable and also there’s Lights Camera Jackson the “kid critic,” who always comments on family friendliness of titles he sees.

I appreciate your readership and welcome intelligent discourse and just wanted it clear that my aim is to state opinion not shape it.

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Short Film Saturday: Dym (Smoke)

Short films are an artform in and of themselves. Sadly, there are rarely avenues for these films to be displayed. While the platform I can offer is not a large one I do hope that by featuring short films on the weekend you’ll be encouraged to look for more that you do like or perhaps even work on your own. I will try to get these up on Saturday morning, which may be the ideal time to catch a short film: It’s a relaxed time and you’re in search of some entertainment but your attention span may not be as long as it will be later in the day.

The first film I am deciding to highlight is one called Smoke. It’s a film that was actually brought to my attention via an email from the film’s director. I’m sorry it took me so long to profile it here, however, I am glad he brought it to my attention as it truly is quite special.

The film is constructed in a stream-of-consciousness montage that is incited by the turning on of a tape recorder. What words are being spoken on the tape, or to it for that matter (if any), are left for the audience to divine as we don’t hear them. The images are rather surreal and at times completely disconnected and at others only connected by the common motif: smoke, be it in one form or another. While some images are Kubrickesque the film possesses a voice of it’s own that speaks to you in visual fragments seeking your input and associations to determine meaning. I’ve seen the film twice now and had two distinct, but both positive reactions to it.

Before I belabor it too long watch it for yourself: