One Month of Movies, but stepping back from the act of writing about them

The occupation of being a film critic, ego or no ego, is to be a [subjective] communicator who can reflect an idea, an interpretation if you will, of what it means to have seen a film, or an entire television series (in the days of binge-watching, so common now). I’ve been banging at the laptop for a good 15 or so years now, starting via IMDB.com as a simple user with a keyboard and continuing on my own site of the same name as this one (which, as I wrote in my first post from February, did not transfer successfully to this current version). Film critique is a practice that I thoroughly enjoy. After having watched a movie, or finished a limited series, I’ve got all these ideas swirling around in my head as of the information that I’ve been presented with, and now, the task of putting it all together into something called “my interpretation”. Sometimes I’ve turned out stuff that made me feel truly accomplished. Last year, in the middle of the pandemic, I wrote an extremely long essay on Luca Guadagnino’s short movie The Staggering Girl. That 40-minute movie affected me in more ways than anything I’d ever seen, to the point that I make it a point to see it whenever I feel a sense of grounding myself, and thus, finding whatever it was that I lost to the ravages of time and being an adult in the middle of corporate hell.

At the same time, I’ve submitted less than stellar writings. As a matter of fact, I’ve put out quickie reviews just to meet my own personal quota and make sure that whoever was reading me would see a new post every other day whether the movie was good or not, whether I even cared about the movie or not. I realized that this was not where I wanted to be. I don’t want to be just another reviewer who sees everything that gets released week after week; it’s just not me. Considering where I live plus the accessibility to an almost limitless online streaming content I’m almost navigating against the current, barely able to catch my breath as I start another two hours with a new movie, and so on and so forth. [Trust me when I say I can easily watch a good two movies per weekday, and as much as six to eight during a weekend.] Perhaps, by cutting back a bit, I may be missing on that brilliant new work that [insert name here] turned out, and for that, I can accept it. I will never be able to see every last thing that cinemas turn out; I now realize that I simply don’t want to. I want to be able to for once, simply enjoy the art of viewing, and leave it at that, and if I feel like it, express my thoughts, rather than feel compelled — obligated — to perform an analysis and tack on a completely subjective rating.

Speaking of ratings, I think it’s also time to retire that. What I consider good or bad is entirely my own view, my own appreciation of “what works and doesn’t work” in a cinematic experience. And who’s to say that I may, on a day I felt rather irritated, transferred my aggravation into a perfectly innocent vehicle? Many critics have stated that after the fourth or even fifth movie during an all-day festival felt exhausted and borderline ornery and gave the last one a less than favorable review simply because they were tired and their eyes hurt. That’s not fair for the finished product nor the director and his team who set out to simply entertain, and also make money. While there is no shortage of bad art out there, no one sets out to make bad art. I don’t have to emit a juicy negative opinion filled with snark and thinly veiled anger only to make my viewers chuckle. That was an institution that critics from 100 years ago established only to place themselves before the movie (or play), and thus, entertain by schadenfreude and mockery. There is too much of that already and I don’t feel as though I want to be a part of that. I don’t claim to have the last word. If I did, I’d be a snob, and I know way too many who are mainstays at art-house cinemas who produce cringe-worthy viewpoints when all I saw was a simple romance with a slight social statement (to name an example).

During the month of July, I saw no less than 12 movies ranging from new releases to restored classics, and a few short series. I may try to get to all of these, and if I do, fine, and if I don’t, that’s fine, too. I just don’t want to only be writing day after day after day as if it were an occupation. Unless I feel a connection to the project or its director, I probably won’t devote time to write about it. That simply means that I may be cutting back a bit and taking a point, midyear, to take off from watching and reviewing films, at least the lull before the New York Film Festival. So that is it, before I turn this into a tl;dr post, I just felt that I needed to address this into cyberspace, purge it from my system, and carry on with what truly interests me instead of churning out 10 reviews a week about 15 new and upcoming releases. I want that my personal views mean something, not simply parrot a elitist’s consensus about a film or series of films.

So, there it is. Now, to move on, whatever August may bring. Happy watching!

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