Tribeca Shorts: ‘Tokyo Project’ With Elisabeth Moss, ‘For Flint,’ & ‘Approaching A Breakthrough’ - [image: Elisabeth-Moss-Tokyo-Project_Giles_Nuttgens_web2][image: Tribeca Shorts: ‘Tokyo Project’ With Elisabeth Moss, ‘For Flint,’ & ‘Approaching A Breakth...
Thursday, March 3, 2011
As someone who spends an inordinate amount of time watching, and engaging in, film criticism and discussion, I find one of the most unique aspects of the process lies in the method one chooses to present their opinions. Some are authoritative. A "this is not my opinion, it is THE opinion" approach that tends to gravitate readers on the power of sheer self-confidence. Another approach some adopt is the objective intellectual. They don't so much as state what they like or dislike, but analyze the film from a moral or scientific standpoint, applying positives and negatives to its ability to appropriately convey the material. Whatever the method one adopts, I can safely say that few do it inexorably.
You see, I've noticed a growing trend in film criticism of the preventative review. "Well, I know lots of people liked the film, but I didn't" - or vice versa - becomes the foundation of the review itself. In essence, the reviewer is attempting to deflect potential criticism of their review with a preposition that acknowledged they are in the minority. I can't help but feel as if this is a method intended to downplay the review's own importance in the grand scheme of reviews while at the same time defending the integrity of that review. Not a double standard, but a befuddling standard all the same.
This is a very defensive position on one's own opinion. "People might not agree with me, therefore I must make it known that I don't really matter so they don't get mad." That's not reviewing, it's cowering. But it's not a unique case. Throughout the internet people feel the need to deflect and protect their opinion as if it was under constant bombardment from other people's opinions. "I didn't like X" gets met with "WELL I DID AND I DON'T CARE!!!" Who says that even if you did care, it should matter at all? Let alone, why does my not liking a film evoke such a strong need by you to declare that you did? I'm glad my opinion doesn't sway you, but simply informing me that you enjoyed the movie that I didn't more than covers our conversational needs. From there we can traverse our likes and dislikes and come to amiable, even if differing, conclusion.
However, I don't feel as if this is something that just appeared out of nowhere. Inherent in a defensive mindset is the prospect, or actuality, of an attack of some sort. And, well, you don't have to go far on the internet to find that. We love to attack anything and indeed everything. "You don't like your apples dipped in honey on the third tuesday of every sixth month? What the hell is wrong with you!?" OK that might be an extreme example, but that's just my way.
My belief is that because movies are well balanced with respect to personal and social associations, we struggle in deciphering how that should impact our opinion, especially with respect to those of others. If I enjoy bananas, I eat them and go on about my day. I don't talk to everyone about how much I love them, start a blog about my bananas, join some communities, and share a variety of banana tips. And I honestly don't know anyone who does (though I don't doubt someone does). Yet that's the difference with films. When you watch a movie, you seek out the opinions of others and begin a filtering process of what you agree and disagree with. The more extreme you find yourself from, or with, the prevailing opinions of those around you the greater the desire to speak up in offense or defense rises. It's a very natural reaction, but one I feel that's become overblown.
There are certain things I believe are perfectly arguable opinions. Politics or philosophy where there may not be a clear 'right' answer, but a logical or logistical solution may be derived through well placed criticism may be the perfect venue for an offensive/defensive approach. But I would say not films. Too often these days we've chopped at the thin line between stating one's opinion and defending it. If I say I like a movie and proceed to explain why, it's quite a different take from having to constantly defend that stance because people are unwilling, or unable, to accept it. But that's where we are. Despite our large collection of varying opinions, people still struggle (myself included) to accept certain opinions from others.
Perhaps it is because we greatly desire others to see things our way. Perhaps it's because we fear social exile should we fail to correlate strongly. Who knows. All I can say is this - please, remember, your opinion is just as valid as any other, even if they are polar opposites. With film, subjectivity has always been a crucial component, and will continue to be so. Except with me of course, because we all know I'm always right. :)