I have been working on a manifesto in the back of my mind for a couple of years now. It’s my Movie Reviewer’s Manifesto.
Today I read something over at Nomen est Numen that piqued my interest:
I believe that the job of a critic is to help people get as much as they can out of whatever it is that is being reviewed. A critic’s role ought not be to point out flaws or shortcomings, but to create and instill appreciation. There is richness to be found in even the most banal of films. There is something to be learned from even the shoddiest of dining experiences. It is not Polly-Anna I revere, but the fact that life is painfully brief, and is much better spent in enjoyment than condemnation.
Now, this was a digression in a post abut something else entirely, but it still intrigued me. I have long thought the difference between a reviewer and a critic, but had trouble explaining exactly how I see it. I used to say (and indeed, did say in my masters’ project) that reviewers help you pick a film while critics help you understand a film.
I think Siona’s point about critics helping you appreciate a film is a better way to put it, and that does change my evaluation of where I am on the reviewer/critic spectrum. In some of my reviews (like The Merchant of Venice, for example), I do try to help my readers appreciate the film a bit more. But my goal is always to help them decide whether or not to see it in the first place.
It’s an interesting subject, and I’m sure that my musings on it have been tweaked by Siona’s. This is yet another reason that I love blogging and read numerous blogs by interesting people: they feed my own intellectual meanderings.