Friday, February 24, 2006


Here is something that strikes me as really very funny: movie criticism is, as you probably know, insanely popular. There are dozens, nay hundreds, of websites out there where people spend their time criticizing films right and left. The criticism itself ranges from astute to uninformed, from contextual comparisions to random surges of gut feeling (a sort of emotional vomiting common to most chat boards, it seems). Now, why is criticism so damn popular? Films, sure, they're stories that compell, enmesh, and we spend a lot of time watching things, temporarily immersing ourselves in stories about other (fictional, generally) people's lives. Films, I can sense their popularity, and the reason behind it. But why this whole critiquing business? Part of me thinks that it's mostly for those who review, not the audience reading it. Or, hold on, let's be more clear, it seems like the critique craze is based on those who respond to things - either the original film itself, or people responding to the critiques once they're published. Make sense? Criticism is made for people to rant, by and for ranters, who deeply love to spread their opinions around like so much mayonnaise.

This is interesting, because it makes criticism a sort of art form: something irrationally done to be noticed, appreciated, understood better. Don't tell me art isn't selfish, on some level, for every artist, it is. There is no purely generous art.

But is criticism as beautiful as art? I think it can be, but it's rare. Rare is it when some one writes a review that charms, or makes you think in a new, startling way.

You could argue, though, that every form of writing is a critique: a reflection on something established, only in an obfuscated form.

That is what I was thinking about today.