“I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it” – Evelyn Beatrice Hall said that, when talking about Voltaire.
One man’s meat is another man’s poison. Right? Though in the politically correct climate we live in, the phrase should really read ‘one person’s meat…’, or there’ll be a hashtag twitter campaign against it.
One man’s terrorist is another man’s freedom fighter. Right? Ok, again, same gender problem. Women can have terrorists/freedom fighters too. We need some new idioms for the 21st Century, OK?
The world is subjective. Everything, really, is subjective, yet we read reviews all the time, and use them to form our own opinions. Just because I like something, and write about it, doesn’t mean someone else will like it. So who reviews the reviews? And what makes a good review?
I’m no expert, but having increased my literary output over the past few months, written a number of film reviews, and put together the post-MIFF review fanzine (brilliantly entitled The Mini MIFF Review Fanzine), I got to thinking about what I like, and dislike, about film reviews. Here are my (subjective) opinions:
DON’T GIVE TOO MUCH AWAY
A similar problem to modern day movie trailers. I don’t want to get to the end of a review and feel I’ve seen the film. I may as well not go and see the film. Tease me. Prod me. Provoke me to choose to go and see it. Just don’t show me the script.
So, don’t tell me the plot, but tell me how it made you feel. How it might make me feel. Will it pull at my heart strings? Make me angry? Question life? Feed my adrenalin? Make me romanticise? Make me cry? Make me read between lines. But don’t go overboard, so I get completely lost.
DON’T GO ON BLAH BLAH BLAH.
Reviewers can be obsessed with writing too much. Offering EVERY minute thought they had. Don’t. Hit me. Make me want to see the film. Don’t bore me. BANG. DONE. GET OUT. Bye.
Tell me about the director. What else they did. What they might be doing. The actors. Other similar films/styles/genres. A random little fact. (Did you know, one of the world’s first Film Reviews was written by Maxim Gorky in 1896.)
Ultimately, it’s just an opinion, and we’re all entitled to one. The great thing about blogs, and the modern world of online publishing, is you can be your own editor, and say what you think (*ahem* looking at you China, Iran et al), not what the corporation above wants you to think. Though be careful, because America is probably watching you. Or Russia. Or Britain. Or Big Brother. Or your friend who’s looking over your shoulder. Worst case scenario, the Ecuadorian embassy will look after you.
DON’T BELIEVE EVERYTHING YOU READ.
Newspapers. Magazines. Blogs. Governments. Your parents. Me. This article. It’s all a conspiracy. Close your laptop, switch off your desktop, put your mobile away, go outside, and get some sunshine.
The late great Brian Clough, when asked how he dealt with a player who disagreed with his methods, replied:
“I ask him which way he thinks it should be done, we talk about it for 20 minutes, and then we decide I was right.”