EPISODE 367: REVIEWING FORM

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7 Responses

  1. I agree with you here Tyler. The article is written in such a way that suggests one way to write reviews is the only way. This is, I think, just a device to ‘spice’ the article up a little.

    However, while reading the article, I started to re-evaluate what the purpose of a film review is. Traditionally, were they not written for audiences that were deciding whether or not to see a movie, based on a trusted film critics opinions. Therefore, would it not alienate certain readers that had not seen the film if the critic where to pick out very specific lighting effects or camera movements and try to describe why and how they work. Surely if this was done more in reviews, they would be more beneficial to read after you had seen the film, changing the traditional idea of a review.

    Is there or should there now be a smaller gap between a film review, in which the writer gives their opinions on the film in general, commenting on plot and technical elements (written for those that had not seen the film). And, an analysis of a film, in which the writer goes deeper into more detail about very specific elements within a film. What those elements mean, and how they were accomplished (written for someone that had seen the film based on its more specific nature).

    Or can a review and an analysis be the same thing?

  2. Hudsucker says:

    David, have you listened to the Brad ‘n’ Laremy episode about this same exact article? I was curious what you thought of their response.

  3. Patrick says:

    So I think both Tyler and Matt Zoller-Seitz are right, because in essence they are two completly seperate approaches to film criticism. In my own analysis of film I tend more towards Seitz’s analytical look at the mechanics of film.

    However, I would say Tyler’s approach is probably closer to the way most people experience film and the films that speak to me the most personally are often the films whose thematic resonates with me personally. Tyler’s writes as a perfect audience surrogate, which is I think what Zoller-Seitz is arguing for. The main difference is that Zoller-Seitz seems to be asking the film critic to be a perfect mimeograph machine instead of a more subjective approach.

    In the end though, this whole debate reveals the fallacy of the objectivity of the observer. Even though we can all be watching the same films, we experience them as individuals. All films are experiential. I experience them in their pieces and how those pieces lead up to a larger whole, and thus when I write reviews I tend to focus on the inner workings, but most of the time I am documenting the resulting sentiment and experience those larger pieces create. So reviewing the technical and form aspects of film means nothing unless its in the context of the overall product.

    In a way I think Mountaineer Film Festival exemplifies that ethos while inviting a myriad of different approaches. So many of the films in the festival (particularly those in the Experimental block) are often entirely form with no content, thus forcing the audience to experience them as pure artistic expressions rather than try to understand them. The example of the film “Deconstructing Boxcar Bertha” which is so ripped of meaning as to become vacant and remains hauntingly beautiful in its sparseness.
    I’m very glad you had a good time at the festival.

  4. Kirk says:

    There is a difference between a movie review and film criticism. Sometimes I want to read a ten page Pauline Kael essay and sometimes I want to read a few sentences from Len Maltin (and I always want to read the articles by David and Tyler… You’re welcome). However, there is always a middle ground. This middle ground is not better or worse. It just is. One finds their place on the spectrum (criticism/review, pompous ass/dullard) and finds their audience within each individual goldilocks zone. Those who love Zoller-Seitz’s position are right. And those who disagree are also right. Ipso facto, there is no right. Or wrong.

  5. Dan Roy says:

    Here’s MZS correcting Jonathan Rosenbaum in some blog comments six years ago. IMHO the snot runs pretty thick:

    “I’m very sorry to say that this blog entry is written from a position of ignorance of how newspapers other than the Chicago Reader work.”

    “…I was going to say that this entry should have been a classic Jonathan Rosenbaum rant against the system that would relegate a movie like this to a non-mainstream thater in New York, and coverage of the movie to a daily newspaper’s back pages — but that would have required you to come at this subject from a position of knowledge that you apparently lack.”

    “You know, it seems like a constant resentment of Rosenbaum’s is about New York being the perceived capital of the U.S. intelligentsia and everything that goes with that… how much is this really about cultural sensitivity and how much is just simply about the smarmy condescension of New York critics and how we love to hate it to some extent.”

  6. Aaron says:

    David- if you like Jim Henson’s Creature Shop Challenge, you’ll like Face Off. They are the exact same formula with makeup instead of puppets.

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