The purpose of this site:
Unhurried reviews granting films full respect – Rounded coverage rating specified list of aspects – Reviews immune to blandishment of producers, publicists and politics, and awards Oscar and Festival – Reviews separate from herd behavior of working critics – Seeking and noting philosophical themes – Informed objective coverage of controversial documentaries
There are many excellent movie reviews available on the Web by fine professional critics and very smart amateurs in blogs and comment threads at Netflix and elsewhere, and by fine professionals who may lack a print outlet (eg the excellent TrustMovies). So why write more?
What we are concerned with here are some considerations which may be shortchanged in the usual review.
Unhurried reviews granting films full respect
First, we intend to review film without the pressure of deadlines, and with full freedom to adjust and expand coverage of the work at a later time in the light of new information or understanding, with no limitation on length.
Rounded overage rating specified list of aspects
We will also attempt to evaluate all the main aspects of a movie and award stars from Zero to Ten in the following categories:
Lead actors’ star quality
Supporting actors quality
Script literary quality
Script historical/factual accuracy
Reviews immune to blandishment of producers, publicists and politics, and awards Oscar and Festival
While our reviews will lean towards the positive and will emphasize appreciation of the achievements of those who have put their lives and hearts into the work, while noting the disappointments briefly, we will write them completely free of the influence of obligation towards producers and publicists sine we will as far as possible not go to screenings, go on junkets, talk with publicists, accept screeners, or do any favors for actors and others we may be acquainted with personally. Reviews will be written purely from the point of view of the couch potato or paid theater seat consumption of the work.
Reviews separated from herd behavior of working critics
For similar reasons we will avoid screenings and even if we have long debates with other film reviewers we will not be influenced by personal relations with our colleagues, who tend to stampede as a herd in directions which may lead them over the cliff of irrationality.
Seeking and noting underlying philosophical themes
We will make a point of pointing up the philosophical theme of a story, where it exists, which we feel is one of the most interesting feature of very good work in films, one that can provide the invisible spine of the narrative and transform the significance and importance of a story.
In other words, we are especially interested in tales which go beyond entertainment to resonate with a deeper philosophical theme, one which ideally is universal ie involves all of us.
A good example is the delightful Big, in which Tom Hanks brilliantly brought to life the vexed issue of how to grow up without losing the spontaneity, capacity for pure fun, and personal interplay of childhood. Do we really have to give all these up as we are carried along by the conveyor belt of time, passing from childhood through schooling into adult roles, with all their unspoken rules and social restrictions?
A film with that kind of powerful philosophical theme is the most substantial entertainment, in our view, since it bears a message with last resonance and interest. \
We are story telling animals, after all, and the narrative structure is the most important element of every classic, we believe. Without that spine and skeleton the rest tends to be formless flesh which sometimes cannot be held together even by the skin of character and costume of sets and special effects.
We find that without a strong narrative spine, fiction, fact, movie or documentary will generally lack the momentum and energy to sustain our interest.
A true artist may add muscle to the flesh of thought and in writing render a sense of significant form, but Chekhovs who can sketch so convincingly are much rarer that the many who attempt the trick.
There is a reason for the primacy of story. Storytelling has been the heart of social communication and teaching between humans since the beginning of language, and it retains its psychological importance even in today’s information obsessed world.
Any movie which doesn’t have story in its DNA is not going to grip the audience on this fundamental level. However diverting the appeal of the material it offers, we will lose interest unless it is framed by a narrative which has a beginning a middle and an end, a question, and a working out, and a denouement or conclusion.
Despite our regard for the aesthetics of fine camerawork, or characterful acting, or the excitement of technical achievements in 3D and other special effects, such a film is in essence psychologically motionless.
Stories spurned by uninformed critics
The final issue we have in mind is uninformed reviewing, where critical prejudice too easily dismisses excellent documentaries which challenge conventional wisdom, especially those that present topics in alternative science and medicine.
A film which cuts too sharply across standard media beliefs may be prematurely and wrongly rejected for that reason. Reviewers like the rest of us are not quick to embrace novel evidence which challenges their fundamental world view, and they may lack the sense of professional responsibility to do it.
Thus even the best critics at the New York Times and elsewhere are sometimes off the mark for reasons which have nothing to do with the content of a film, and history is full of adamant rejections of films which are recognized by most people now as worthwhile. We believe something should be done to rescue good documentary work from misunderstanding. For example, Burzynski, which was trashed by one of the New York Times most literate but intolerant reviewers for no good reason.