November 23, 2004

Calling all Critics

Here's why I might just never review a film here.

There are three ways to review a film.

Perhaps more, but there are three ways between which I think I would need to choose, were I to review a film. Simplest is a quick summary, with scant observation or enlightenment. Just the facts. The director, stars, plot, perhaps the piece's origins or maybe its buzz. And then, "Liked it", "Hated it", "I laughed, I cried". This isn't even a review actually - strike it off the list.

There are two ways to review a film.

First, there is the professional critical review in the thumbs-up or 3-stars sense, where the reviewer attempts to comment on the successes and failures of a particular piece without actual blowing the story. The reader of the review is still expected to SEE the film at some point. So the reviewer and the reviewee enter into a spy-game dance, where the information is delivered on a need-to-know basis. Just enough meat need be torn from the beast for the reviewer to sculpt a ghost, as it were. The reader needs to recognize enough of the latent spirit to either feel an attraction or to dismiss the candidate along with the rag he's reading.

Now, I'm sorry but this is a tad like betting a horse from the morning form at the track. Maybe it's me but it smacks a little of a blind-date get up. This is why so many reviewers have to qualify their last couple sentences with "If you're looking for a movie that...." Or they'll tell you that this particular film has all the elements of some other previous release, and more, or less, plus sex, minus chimps. Ultimately, you just go watch the trailer and shoot from the hip. You just want to know, with such a preview, of your possible relative desire to see this film over another at this moment. It's all about resources, time, money, buttered or plain, you know. OK.

Then there's the critical analysis. It's a true review - it's after the fact. When you have to develop an expository piece about a subject film or a piece of literature, or a comparitive between two or more, you do so expecting that your audience has also in fact seen or read the piece(s). It's great fun, you're reading between the lines, you're critiquing the sound editing, etc, and you're not only spilling the story, you're swimming around in the creator's brain.

I love to delve into the literary schema, the filmic structure, the formal presentation, the cultural assumptions, the intellectual agreements that the director and the screenwriter make with the viewer. I love to just taste the visceral, roll it over for a day or a week or more and see how it effects the piece. I want to solve it. I want to elucidate. And therein lies the rub. That's all for the book club. It's for class, for a grade. You can't do that here. Not without ticking off half of next weekend's viewing public.

So, I don't want to write a review that's merely a wink wink preview.

And I really can't just write a full blown analytical treatise.
No, really, I mean I can't. This isn't school, dammit, it's me banging away at the computer on my free time. When I should be watching a film, for example. After the kids are asleep.

So here's all I'm going to do. I'm reviewing in reverse. You tell me.

I'm listing the next 20 DVD's I have on my Netflix Queue, and you can just go ahead and chime in with any damn comment you want. Sound like fun? Calling all Critics.

Surely, it won't make me remove something from the list but perhaps it'll climb or slip based on what I hear. Maybe. Besides, we all know I'll probably never even get to # 20 without throwing piles of other films ahead of it first. By the way, does anyone know the limit on the length of a Netflix queue? Mine's longer than a list of parts necessary to build a car.

So here's what I've got on the way, in order:

1. Jesus' Son
2. The Station Agent
3. Ghost World
4. Mifune
5. Donnie Darko
6. The Saddest Music In The World (Thanks, Luke)
7. Kill Bill 1 and 2
8. All About My Mother
9. Amores Perros
10. Snatch
11. Buffalo Soldiers
12. 25th Hour
13. Igby Goes Down
14. Waking Life
15. Facing Windows
16. The Triplets of Belleville
17. Baise Moi
18. Scotland PA
19. Sexy Beast
20. Blue

Remember, do not spoil anything for me dear friend, or I'll,,, well, , I'll slap a blind date on ya. You really don't want that.

6 Comments:

At 1:48 PM, Blogger jayne said...

That's a pretty nice list but Snatch should be higher. Cause it kicks ass.

 
At 10:25 AM, Blogger Luke said...

1. Jesus' Son
2. The Station Agent: Good and heartfelt. Sexy dwarf lead reminds you that little people have big hearts and bigger emotional baggage.
3. Ghost World: Painful and good, but not as good as you may have heard.
4. Mifune
5. Donnie Darko: Pseudo-philosophic meditation that made me wish I made movies (with Pseudo-philosophic meditations).
6. The Saddest Music In The World (You're welcome).
7. Kill Bill 1 and 2: Just about what you'd expect.
8. All About My Mother: Made me care about Trannies (again).
9. Amores Perros
10. Snatch: Brilliant, snappy Cockney dialogue whored up for an American audience. Apparently in no way represents real Londoner dialogue (listen for reference to "social security numbers" something that doesn't exist in England"
11. Buffalo Soldiers
12. 25th Hour: Good meditation on good and evil . . . maybe more like good and bad and necessary. Spike's best since He Got Game
13. Igby Goes Down: Made me love the Culkins (again). And after Macaulay's turn in Saved!, the Culkin clan kick serious ass again.
14. Waking Life: Beautiful and surreal meditation on the reality of dreams and the uncertitude of our lives after death. Brilliant. Look for some faces of familiar actors in the animation.
15. Facing Windows: This review is from before your time at my blog Don.
16. The Triplets of Belleville: Shannon liked it a lot.
17. Baise Moi
18. Scotland PA
19. Sexy Beast: Ben Kingsley's angriest, most brutal and funniest turn.
20. Blue: Juliet Binoche is purty. I've heard this is the best of the metaphysical trilogy. Shannon's roomie rented it, will be watching soon hopefully.

 
At 10:27 AM, Blogger Luke said...

Shit, and Amores Perros is really good, but not half as good as all about my mother, which makes most other human dramas pale.

 
At 10:28 AM, Blogger Luke said...

And by the way, nice work blogrolling Hot Abercrombie Chick LOL, you're a way quicker study than I was.

 
At 11:45 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Christ, isn't it just like Luke to swoop in here and comment right before me with an opinion slighly more interesting and informed than my own.

*sigh*

Okay,

1. Jesus' Son
2. The Station Agent - My girlfriend and her mom loved this movie. I've yet to see it.
3. Ghost World - I really liked it, but ol' Steve is maybe a little too depressing in it. Like Luke said, it doesn't quite live up to its hype, but it's solid.
4. Mifune
5. Donnie Darko
6. The Saddest Music In The World (Thanks, Luke)
7. Kill Bill 1 and 2 - I think you'll pretty much get what you expect. I liked both of these movies a lot, but I'm in the serious minority of this film's fans in that I liked the first movie a little bit more than the seconde, even though it has no real plot or development. I think the colors, sets, and action are more interesting and fun.
8. All About My Mother
9. Amores Perros
10. Snatch - Jayne (hi, Jayne!) is right. This movie could probably be higher up the list. It could just as easily be called, "Cockney Editing Comedy!" But it's funny and that's all that really counts.
11. Buffalo Soldiers
12. 25th Hour
13. Igby Goes Down - Fuck, I have been trying to convince my girlfriend to rent this since it came out (after an unsuccessful campaign to see it in the theatres). We both want to see it but just keep passing it by. Luke's right about the Culkin's too. They've got their shit together and are pretty awesome now.
14. Waking Life
15. Facing Windows
16. The Triplets of Belleville - Again, Aleah and her mom saw this and really liked it.
17. Baise Moi
18. Scotland PA
19. Sexy Beast
20. Blue

Also, as the gatekeeper of Luke's referrals, I can say with some authority that the HAC link hasn't exactly paid off in spades (minus, probably, a sizable jump in his page rank that might actually translate to more click-throughs from searches). There's something ... unwholesome about linking to an ugly man that posts controversial stories as a grinning, blond sorority girl to drum up traffic. I suppose it's harmless, but I wonder who the girl in the picture actually is.

--Mike Sheffler
... turning to the 3-D map, we see an unmistakable cone of ignorance

 
At 5:29 PM, Blogger Don Sheffler said...

Mike, between you and me, I think that's his wife. She loves him and his silly, err, amazingly successful experiment which was spawned no doubt by some fortuitous synthesis of viewing "Legally Blonde" and trying to come up with a viral marketing hook. Poof.
More power to him/her/them.

 

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