A Closed Balcony (Pt. 1) - Can't Stop the Movies
Can't Stop the Movies

A Closed Balcony (Pt. 1)

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When the flush of a new-born sun fell first on Eden's green and gold,
Our father Adam sat under the Tree and scratched with a stick in the mould;
And the first rude sketch that the world had seen was joy to his mighty heart,
Till the Devil whispered behind the leaves, "It's pretty, but is it Art?"
-Rudyard Kipling-

Andrew COMMENTARYEvery week, I look at two new movies just released on DVD that interest me.  Some weeks the pickings seem slim, and I have to go with what my gut tells me will be of some worth.  Other weeks they are movies that I've been looking forward to for a while, and I try and stave off my enthusiasm until the film is complete.  But towards the end of every film, my thoughts return to my keyboard, my emotions, and what logic I can muster in the face of each film - all to deliver a worthy criticism like that of someone I would like to read.

Because, when you get down to it, I don't really care what anyone else thought of the film.  I might be able to glean some welcome insights from my girlfriend Annie, my movie-writing partner Danny, or any of the critics that I have read throughout the years, but if their opinions effect my thoughts about the film in any way, then I haven't done my job.  What I, and any critic, can really do is sit down and give you the most honest, personal opinion that we can muster.

I laugh any time anyone talks about evaluating movies objectively.  That assumes that there's some kind of objective basis for looking at movies to begin with.  It doesn't mean that every opinion is equal.  To say that you liked any film is not an opinion I can debate with-- you liked it, that's the fact of the moment.  But the very second that someone begins to explain why they liked something, that's where we can get to the real fun of debating film.

I'm the devil in the bushes.  Looking out over the scratches in the dirt and wondering if they will have any lasting impact on our society.  What of the person making the scratches?  Are they phalocentric, racist, speak of a better tomorrow, equality?  Do they do this particularly well?  And why do I feel it necessary to bring someone else's hard work down a peg or two?

Because film says something about culture, just like every art form does.  I care about whether it's done meaningfully or is harmful to the advancement of certain thought processes, or if it is just done badly.  It just so happens that I think film, with it's combination of movement and image, affects our collective subconscious in a way that no other art form does.  Does this mean that I am demeaning certain forms of thought?

Hell yes.

Don't like that?  Well, no matter your way of life, you can find a critic that speaks to you and understands the way you look at things.  What I hope to do is take my years of existence on this planet, what meager writing skill I can muster, and turn it all into an insightful piece of work that will let you see into a certain film what I see.  There are folks that are going to have philosophical differences with what I like and dislike, and more importantly why, but that won't change the central question of "If you dislike what I'm saying, why do you keep reading?"

And more importantly, "Why do I keep writing?"

The biggest thing is, I like it.  I enjoy watching new movies day in, day out, and trying to find something nice to say about each one of them.  The second being, it's gone beyond a compulsion, and possibly obsession, I need to talk about movies the same way that Tarantino needs to film the feet of a pretty blond girl.  What I get out of watching a movie is only partly expressed each time that I type down a new paragraph.  Because, and trust me on this one, if each of you were to feel what I feel every time I watch a great film we would not be able to meaningfully communicate with each other.

But I try.  Which gets to the final part of why I'm typing this up and why I am trying to shove Bela Tarr and previously "The Decalogue" down everyone's throat.

Sometimes, I will discover a piece of work that is so unique and beautiful that I want everyone to share in it and try and pull anything from the experience.  Even if it's something that they'll disagree with, I want to get additional input, I want to get people talking (especially if it's from sources that I completely disagree with).

I'm not here to try and sway public opinion.  Given how much traffic this site generates right now, as well as the general obscurity of a few of the titles me and Danny comment on, I don't think that a large number of people are going to have their minds changed.  Any critic that gets into the business for the specific purpose of changing people's minds is going to have a dreary road ahead of them.  All I want to do is accurately describe something for folks, and hope that they can find something to connect to emotionally, be it angry or pleasantly agreeable.

You might be reading this and wondering why I decided to take my precious article space and defend the craft of film critiquing today.  Well, an era is ending.  At least for those folks that are interested in serious film criticism.  At The Movies just filmed it's second to last episode.  This is a show that has had an unprecedented effect on film criticism, as well as the way that the general populace views that criticism.  To say that I am sad doesn't quite cut it, but it did drive me to reevaluate why I am reviewing movies every week.

So if you are wondering why it is that a show that started on public broadcasting that is now ending made me incredibly sad, stay tuned in for next week where I'll be evaluating the entire history (with one brief exception) for At The Movies.

The rest of you need to find a new hobby, or - at the very least - a more productive way to spend your time.

Next week, I'll be mourning the passing of At The Movies.  I hope to see you all there.

Part two is here.

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Posted by Andrew

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