What do Shrek, District 9 and Avatar all have in common? It’s a trick question, they are the same movie. At their heart all three movies are about ‘becoming’ what you fear and hate and don’t want to like, and then learning that actually you’d rather be that. Which brings me to my point. Three movies, all basically the same, but totally different. Each one entertaining in its own way, none a work of art (In the end Brakhage is better talked about than seen anyway). Who can say which one is better or which one has some value worth talking about? Yes, the critic, the movie reviewer.
But do they really? (And I mean they in the singular non-gender specific sense of the word) I propose that all movie critics can be generally divided into one of two categories. One, the critic that bases their (I can see the Webster’s 2010 edition now) review on opinion; ‘I hated this movie, it was (pun using the title of the movie)’, or ‘I loved this movie, it was (pun using the title of this movie)’. Then there is the critic takes it upon himself to ‘teach’ the reader why a movie, here called film, as if there were some standard by which all film should judged, ‘lacks a certain je ne sais (pun using the title of the film)’, or ‘is alive with le joie de (pun using the title of the film)’.
Yes all movie reviews are kind of pointless. I loved Bubble Boy and the fact that Mathew Buck didn’t isn’t going to change that fact. Why do we read movie reviews? Maybe you don’t, but I do because I want to reaffirm that the movie I just saw was brilliantawesome/total crap. I don’t read reviews because I want a scholarly opinion or because I can’t rest until I know whether or not Peter Travers had an enjoyable night at the multiplex. I yearn for a review that would actually help me decide whether or not to see a movie.
So here’s my solution. A movie review that serves three purposes. First to let the reader know whether or not they might enjoy a movie based upon a comparison to another similar or dissimilar movie. So say with Avatar: Aliens fans are a go but Alien fans will probably Ava-Tarrible time. Second to let the reader enjoy hearing the opinion of the reviewer, because really some films are better than others and its satisfying to read one person’s opinion why. And third, because in the end reviews are just a kind of entertainment, the predictably clever title for both a positive and negative review. District 9: South Africa and Racism, when will they ever learn? District 9: So much more than Districts 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7 and 8.
Since I watch a ton of movies I’ve decided to write my own reviews in such a fashion. Not an academic analysis, not a rant, a review; under what circumstances should you or should you not shrek yourself out to see the aforementioned movie, review.
My first review will be for the Werner Herzog movie,’Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call New Orleans.’