mission statement or "how i learned to stop worrying and love the blog"
I have had, for quite some time now, a great deal of trouble trying to convince friends outside of my current field of studies-- and my profession-- that I am not a "film snob." A long time ago in an undergrad program not so very far away, these outsiders (sans goatee et garb noir) began to question as to whether studying/analyzing/interpreting and/or tearing apart films had ruined "the movies" for me. Over the course of a decade-or-so, the concern has become so ubiquitous that I have been compelled to devise a kind of general response, the tone of which may account, in part, for the leveled charge that I have my nose in the air: "Studying film hasn't ruined movies for me... It has ruined bad movies, and bad movies deserve to be ruined."
The relationship, in fact, is a little more complex than that. I love all kinds of movies, good and bad. What irks me, I guess, is that vast, mediocre middle ground that people so complacency accept as the bulk of their entertainment. Hmm... That sounds snobby, too. Let me rephrase: What irks me is not that people watch, are entertained by, and enjoy mainstream films (or even blockbuster extravaganzas), but that they seem so reluctant to seek out anything else...
And I understand this reluctance; I understand it because I have been privy to the reviews of two of the most formidable movie critics I know: my parents. Mom and Dad are well-rounded spectators. Variety is the spice of their movie diet, and any number of reasons might prompt them to give their thumbs up to a film they enjoy. If, on the other hand, they do not like a film, it tends to be for one of three reasons:
#1. "It was too depressing."
#2. "There were too many characters... We got confused."
(Allow me to digress for a quick second to say that these critiques are of some concern to me, and I hope to address them in a future post, but that this third one proved to be the inspiration for my "on-line agenda"...)
#3. "Did we miss something?"
Nine times out of ten, the answer to this question is "Yes." Now, this is not to say that the film in question is good or bad. It does, however, speak to the fact that their expectations have been manipulated by the formulas that have been established (by "popular" entertainment) as the norm. Which brings me to the point of this little effort:
For quite some time, I have wanted to write some reviews that shift the focus away from the purely evaluative, and present the reader with some information that will allow him/her to consider what to expect when approaching a film... Any film. Any movie. In doing so, there are a few things I'd like to achieve:
#1. On this website, I will review much of what I watch: films both old and new. My emphasis will be on "What You Might..." What you might like, what you might not; what you might expect, what you might consider; etc. I want to share some of the tools that have shaped my appreciation and analysis of movies, and I hope that anyone who's reading will respond with their own evaluations of the films I discuss. Tell me whether or not you like these films... Above all, tell me WHY.
#2. I also plan to use this space as a diary (urgh) to post some musings about issues in film that are rattling around my brain. I also welcome feedback here. The more we discuss, the more we grow to be critical spectators.
#3. The larger goal is to encourage people to be more discerning as an audience. I harbor no illusions that my little waste-of-space on the internet could ever inspire a mass audience to demand better from the Hollywood studios, but I would love to be assured that people recognize the difference between the good, the bad, and (especially) the mediocre. I would feel extremely fulfilled if I heard from one person who went to their local video store to rent King Kong, but also picked up something like The Squid and the Whale, Pieces of April, or The Station Agent, and was pleasantly surprised.