Sunday, January 9, 2011

Don't Forget Your Vegetables With Those Films

Continuing on my popular article What Type of Film Critic Are You?, I'd like to talk with you all today about another aspect of cinema viewing that affects the manner in which we write movie reviews: What Type of Film WATCHER Are You?

For the purposes of this article I will be discussing how we look at movies through the lens of the two polar extremes of the viewing process spectrum: Ingestion and Digestion

Have no fear, I'm not telling you that in order to watch a movie you must throw a bit of hot sauce on your DVD and dig in. What I'm saying is that cinema is more than watching a movie, regardless of whether or not you like it. Cinema viewing is a process. A series of connected events with the actual 'movie watching' only being a catalyst for them. Yet, as is the case with many a thing, we often lean in favor towards a particular aspect of that process. So first, allow me to define what I mean when I refer to the above.

INGESTION - The process through which a movie is taken in. This part entails the immediacy of watching a movie. It also involves: How you watch a movie, the amount of movies you're going to watch, and the amount of time you're willing to spend doing so.

DIGESTION - Post-Ingestion. Digestion is the process of deconstructing the film, extracting the various necessary components, and thoroughly analyzing them as your brain processes the images received.

Make no mistake about it, no matter how limited an investment you apply, reviewing is inherently a Digestive action. However, the depth to which you review is often based on where you mentally place the emphasis. For example, someone with a high Ingestion rate of cinema often place limited effort/concentration on Digestion, in favor of continuous consumption. These people tend to concentrate on the immediate satisfaction attained from a film, substituting analysis in favor of more viewing.

Another aspect of those with high Ingestion rates are rating vs. writing factor. These people will often review a lot of movies, with limited discussion, and a large emphasis placed on the rating. Ratings are distinguishable components and are highlighted, and eluded to throughout any review. When reading other reviews, they apply the same constrictions on what they're willing to take in.

Digestion based watching is, in many respects, a counter to Ingestion based, even though the two are quite interlinked. People who concentrate on Digestion will usually watch less films in favor of more time for internal debate. After watching a movie, the individual will seek out information on the film, collect interesting facts, and begin relating the film in conjunction with others they've experienced. Reviews from Digestion based viewers tend to be sparse, but longer and more in depth in analysis.

Neither tendency declares anything on the types of films you enjoy. I know plenty of people who go through classic films quicker than a starving man at an all you can eat buffet. So, to assume that those who merely seek to ingest are those who pander to recent cinema would be a miscalculated approach.

As people, few of us are likely to be purely Digestion or Ingestion based. We may sit at a particular point along the spectrum linking them, but where we sit depends on a wide variety of factors. It could be this weekend we'll be going on a film binge, while next weekend we may watch one and leave it be. The only important thing you must derive from the knowledge of where you currently lie is how leaning towards one can affect the other. Sometimes this may be to your benefit, while other times it may create adverse reactions.

So, where do you believe you are on the film watching spectrum?

4 better thoughts:

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

I watch a lot of films and enjoy analyzing them. I only review one a week, but compared to most reviewers, it's basic and short. I guess that means I lean closer to ingestion.

MovieNut14 said...

Considering I'm trying to do a review a day (and recently failing), it's hard trying to have a movie sink in when I have to have the review up the next day.

Simon said...

So, I watch a lot of movies, give relatively small reviews, but don't rate them. Now I'm confused.

Anonymous said...

I'm naturally an ingestive movie watcher. However, when a particularly great movie comes along like a "Black Swan," "Inception," or "The Social Network," I will take the time to digest and fully comprehend what I saw. A lot of the times, this is when I take the time to listen to director and cast interviews, look at what influenced the film, and maybe see if I can get my hands on a copy of the screenplay.

I've been digesting "The Social Network" for the past 3 months and I hope that once I have the DVD in hand, I can publish a super-intelligent post that can blow the pants off the blogosphere.

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