The Case For Criticism

Opinion

I’ve had many conversations about films. A regrettable number of them, to my personal chagrin, lead from a simple premise: it is not that deep. As recently as a few days ago, a conversation with a filmmaker led to a voice note explaining his dismissal of contextual accuracy. He phrased his argument that, sometimes, people…

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I’ve had many conversations about films. A regrettable number of them, to my personal chagrin, lead from a simple premise: it is not that deep. As recently as a few days ago, a conversation with a filmmaker led to a voice note explaining his dismissal of contextual accuracy. He phrased his argument that, sometimes, people just want to make films for fun.

He was right. Many of the film goers I have met in my brief life – even those who are willing to tack on the tag of enthusiast – exist in the perfect circle of film for entertainment value. The logic penetrates deep, running into extended analysis like cinematography and soundtrack and production value. Even when these films are critical darlings, one can always see the flashing number one on the check list of preference: was this movie entertaining enough?

Of course, they are right.

But I am also right, when I express the transformative and critical role of visual imagery and development. Even pop god Andy Warhol, and his surface exploration of subjects deemed fluff, understood that a thinking process follows every creative journey. The diffusion and end result of that process often creates art.

From conversations, I have also learnt about the process between inspiration and creation from filmmakers and photographers. Many seem driven by a basic emotional response to an incident, a concept or another work of art. The questions they ask themselves creating are fundamentally different from those a viewer will ask. In my brief time, I am often perceived to be on the losing side, for seeing beyond the creations intentions.

The difference is a simple concept. I once read the ability to critically assess in the bigger picture is less about knowing more, but simply an issue based on confidence. The confidence of reading books and reviews and viewing art as more than face value which bolsters the confidence to utter an opinion beyond a mere visceral reaction. Emotional components are valuable, that is uncontested but what else is left if all we viewed art with was our basic impressions?

This column begins my effort at exploring, teaching myself and my readers to look beyond the moment. We will explore short films of varying lengths from filmmakers of African descent or with agenda’s deeply rooted in Africanism. With assessment that considers from present day influence and past inspirations, to asses in terms of intentions, results and contextual presentation, to question and understand the function of the work and  above all, to remain consistently awed at the magic that is art.

See you next time.

Responses

  1. Osasu Elaiho
    Creation of movies for entertainment value vs creating movies for insight and deeper meaning.

    Sadly, the average human being doesn’t want movies that are that deep. In fact the deeper they are, the less they make. You have rare movies like Memento that down the road have a much deeper impact and cult following but even that movie isn’t that deep either. Let’s take a look at the MCU on the other hand or even Transformers. These are pure popcorn movies that do not challenge our minds except with visual spectacle.

    We need more movies like Silver Linings Playbook.

    On the case for criticism, I once wrote somewhere else that reviewing a movie/film is purely subjective and based purely on a persons reaction to them. Which may not necessarily be the same view the filmmaker had when crafting his art.

    At the end of the day like you said, all parties are right. It just depends on ones perspective and nothing more.

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