Wednesday, January 04, 2006

Writing About Film



The new issue of Cineaste features an interesting symposium of international film critics. Among them is the Australian Adrian Martin. The symposium pieces are not on-line, but here is an excerpt from his:

The idealistic part of me believes that writing film criticism is all about (a) encouraging people to see (or seek out) films they might not normally see, to help incite that desire; and (b) encouraging people to think a little differently about whatever films they see. Film criticism is all about 'finding an angle,' suggesting a context, and illuminating the film in a way that is not the most immediately apparent way.

For me, any film review (whether a short piece in a newspaper or a long essay for a journal) should be a kind of story fashioned from ideas, bits of description of the film at hand, indices of social and historical context, and whatever else can be jammed in there. I do not feel that either extremely positive or extremely negative criticism 'brings out the best' in a critic. It all depends — sometimes a strong passion for film can bring lucidity, and sometimes just murky assertion; sometimes the 'kick 'em till they bleed' mentality can offer a powerful polemic, and other times it merely demonstrates the critic's own narrow-mindedness. I do not ask for a spurious 'balance' of positive and negative in a review or essay; but I do ask for logic, argumentation, and back-up — not just 'gut reaction'.

Reading this today prompted some self-reflection: As time passes, it’s becoming harder for me to write straight “film reviews” (whatever they are). Looking back at reviews I wrote five years ago, I notice how hard I tried to scrub them clean of “personal” traces (personal experience, subjectivity, any visible “signs” of myself). I was striving for a neutral, third-person “invisible objectivity”, not realizing that (1) such a thing doesn’t exist, and (2) I didn’t feel comfortable writing in that mode anyway.

Not unlike a film, a piece of writing about a film has embedded and embodied in it the writer’s choices of form and style that are fused inseparably with its content. I’m becoming more conscious of this with time. Martin’s ideas above may not be all new, but I like his succinctness and clarity. And “jamming into” a review anything and everything from life that seems to productively inform one’s experience of art: personally, that makes good sense to me.

127 Comments:

Blogger girish said...

Optional question:
I'm curious: Has your approach to writing changed over the last few years?
(And we're not just talking about film here.)

January 04, 2006 9:13 PM  
Blogger girish said...

Get this.
Martin says that recently in Australia, there have been "some insidious moves by film distributors...to try and 'regulate' critics out of speaking their mind. An appalling 'code of ethics for film reviewers' has been floated at film industry conventions, suggesting things like: 'Critics should only review the film in front of them' (there goes socio-political comment) and 'A review should predominantly tell the prospective consumer what the film is about'."

January 04, 2006 9:28 PM  
Blogger girish said...

Just got the new Artforum in the mail today.
Terrific Robin Wood essay on Haneke and Caché.
Alas, not on-line, but here's how it opens:
"I like to make a simple distinction between a reviewer and a critic. The reviewer writes for those who haven't seen a film, telling readers whether they shouldn't and offering a fairly clear idea of what the film is and does; the critic assumes the reader has seen it, making a plot synopsis superfluous, and attempts to engage him or her in an imaginary dialogue about its content, its degree of success, its value. The great literary critic F.R. Leavis summed up very succinctly the ideal critical exchange: "This is so, isn't it?" "Yes, but...""

January 04, 2006 9:37 PM  
Blogger Tuwa said...

I like it when a writer allows personal touches into the writing; it tends to give it a certain warmth that's lacking in more clinical approaches, and at times a purely descriptive writing will fail completely to inform the audience of anything of value.... But, by the same token, some hints of personality in writing have pushed me away from the person writing (springing to mind: Harold Bloom and Tom Wolfe). Somebody else's cup of tea, no problem.

About your other question, yes: my writing style has changed, for better or worse (well, for both) over the last ten years or so, and changed some more over the last two. In some ways it's become less imaginative and more precise since I quit reading so many books and started reading so many webpages; another, more immediately noticeable, difference is that the spelling has gotten much worse.

January 04, 2006 10:02 PM  
Anonymous Peter Nellhaus said...

The most articulate response I can make to that "code of ethics" is AAAARRRRRRR!!!
In terms of my own writing, I can only say that I will make no claims to objectivity, but I subscribe pretty much to Robin Wood's friends of distinction.

January 04, 2006 11:06 PM  
Anonymous dvd said...

My approach to writing has changed enormously over the past five years, but nowhere has it been more evident than in writing about film. How about an illustration? I took down most of my pieces written prior to 2003, due to their embarassingly poor quality (not that they've gotten that much better), but here, for amusement's sake, is the first movie review I ever wrote, back when I not only couldn't make Wood's distinction between a reviewer and a critic, but didn't even know what a critic was. The film is Man Of The Century, and the epoch was sometime in late 1999 or early 2000. I apologize in advance for taking up so much space.

'Man Of The Century' deserves to be this year's "little-indie-film-that-could." Like 'Waking Ned Devine' and 'The Full Monty,' this is a wonderful crowd pleaser that has seemingly come out of nowhere. Films like these make going to the movies fun; you never know when they might pop up.

The film tells the story of Johnn Twennies, a young newspaper reporter who is oblivious to the fact that he is not living in the 1930s. All of the worries and troubles of modern life in Manhattan escape him as he sets out each day to report on the latest breaking news (such as the re-opening of a public library). Never once does he lose his optimism, his courtesy or his lack of reality.

Trouble is, he's the only one who sees things that way. His girlfriend can't figure out why Johnny's idea of making love doesn't go beyond a quick peck on the lips; his editor is on the verge of firing him for someone who writes bigger stories; and the local mobsters, who try to bribe him into writing a staged article, can't understand a word of his cliche-laden '30s dialect/

The plot is ridiculously complicated and incredibly simple at the same time; there are too many details to mention here, but every single plot line is wrapped up in an air tight eighty-minute running time. The mood never falters for a moment;like its hero, the film never once succumbs to the real world.

Shot in beautiful widescreen black and white, with a score that sounds as if it were directly lifted from a Chaplin film, the film perfectly captures the look and feel of a vintage screwball comedy. Gibson Frazier (who co-wrote the film with the director, Adam Abraham) never falters in his performance. He could be digitally dropped into a film from the era and wouldn't seem a bit out of place. If this film succeeds, he could definitely be up for an Oscar nomination.

And this film should succeed. It's the kind of movie that entices applause, that leaves every audience member feeling like a million bucks. It's rated R for language, which is a shame, because older kids will really get a kick out of it. So, of course, will kids at heart; and if you don't fall under either of those qualifications, this movie will convert
you--at least for eighty minutes.


Mock as you see fit.

January 05, 2006 12:48 AM  
Anonymous Matt said...

My style of writing has changed dramatically even in the last year. There are, I think, three main reasons for this: firstly, I've read more and have thus been influenced by the styles of a greater number of writers (from Zach Campbell to Adrian Martin to Nicole Brenez to McKenzie Wark); secondly, my knowledge of what I write about has grown considerably; and thirdly, the voice I write in has begun to find itself, its comfort zone. Back when I started blogging (when I was seventeen) I was messy, I swore a lot, I was cynical not because I had reason to be or enough knowledge of the world to be so (I do now!), but because I thought cynicism was cool. Since then my sensibility, goals, worldview have all been refined somewhat. And I think I'm a better writer because of it.

It also helps that, in the last two years in particular, I've become an absolute obsessive-compulsive when it comes to the rhythm of a sentence. A syllable out, a comma in the right place--these things can quite literally take up hours of my day. Coincidentally, it's the same when I edit video.

I don't know if I answered the question properly. I talked about how my writing changed, not about how my approach to it changed. I don't know how it has, but it has. I now write for a strange confluence of audience (sometimes as a missionary, sometimes as a sceptic), myself (as a way of working through things), and an abstract conception of writing, if that makes sense.

It doesn't? No, I didn't think so either.

January 05, 2006 1:05 AM  
Blogger Shasta said...

indeed. there is no such thing as pure objectivity on the part of either critic or director...or anyone for that matter.

i like gus van z, but "Elephant" really irritated me. he seems want to appear like a fly on the wall...trys to make the film come across as if he were completely effaced. maybe by using multiple points of view (reminds me of La Jealousie) he thinks he's erasing himself, but he's not. he makes deliberate editing decisions and assumptions.

the truth is it only irritated me later. my first reaction was simply crying, which really upset my date. oh well.

January 05, 2006 2:25 AM  
Anonymous Matt said...

I don't think Van Sant tries to efface himself from Elephant at all, but rather to inscribe himself into every moment, very much the director as all-seeing eye. Van Sant is, quite consciously, a character--or at least a presence--in the film.

January 05, 2006 3:40 AM  
Blogger HarryTuttle said...

Thanks for this citation Girish, it may be an old debate, but I see every day more reasons to repeat it. The critic/reviewer and objective/subjective discrepancies are often an excuse to self-justification of one's opinion, instead of sticking to a faithful reading of the filmic material... I very much agree with Martin's excerpt right there. Speaking of evolution, I tend to write for a post-viewing audience more and more because this holy spoiler-free rule just makes criticism useless AND of course Studios prefer a good synopsis than an embarassing dissection.
Personaly I don't care at all for style or reader's fun, that's probably why I write in english rather than french, not to be tempted by ready-made expressions and phrases, exercice of style that I dislike in the french criticism. IMHO overt style is a way to make up for lack of substance, but again I'm not worried about popularity.
Anyway I'm not a "writer", but I try to have a critical perspective. And I kick myself everytime I end up giving a mere synopsis instead of a researched reflexion on the film's intentions. I know the easy way is to dialogue with the rhetorical reader/audience and I always have to remind myself not to turn viewing feedback into demagoguery.

The proverbial "impossible objectivity" truism obfuscates the real issue. The point is not to assert one's ultimate authority but to keep an impartial approach. The subjectivity of form (which you refer to Girish) is a matter of style that doesn't impede the ability to focus on the objective content of a critical stance. So this is a personal choice.
Taking side in a critique is also a stylistic issue, as long as the text aknowledges this selective perspective. Informing a film analysis with personal anecdotes will improve the comfort (both for the writer and reader) and accesibility of the thesis, none of this denies the fundamental insight of an objective analysis.
The critique both subjective in form and content might be popular among readers who seek entertainment rather than information, but it allows everything from best to worst, as one could make any movie look good or bad based on purely subjective arguments... whiches are not even open to debate.

I wish there was an online workshop to discuss this question. I'll see if I can get this issue of cineaste.

January 05, 2006 7:13 AM  
Blogger girish said...

A pleasure to rise this morning to all this rich reading...

January 05, 2006 8:27 AM  
Blogger Tuwa said...

Matt points out that the question is not how our writing might have changed over the years, but how our approach to it has, which means that I didn't answer the question at all. Eh. I'm not sure how to answer the question I should have answered.

January 05, 2006 10:37 AM  
Blogger girish said...

My fault, Tuwa. I meant either, since they're connected anyway.

January 05, 2006 10:48 AM  
Anonymous Darren said...

A few months ago, a friend and I were talking about our frustrations with the obtuse, academic language of critical theory and waxing nostalgic for the good ol' days when a graduate student in English could write a dissertation on, say, "Sailing Imagery in Melville." My friend said, finally, "And the fact is that much of the good work of theory is actually accomplished through sound formal analysis. We haven't really come that far from the New Critics."

He was overstating his case a bit, but I do think that, regardless of where we might stand on the objective/subjective or review/critic spectrums (spectra?), the most valuable insights in art criticism generally emerge from the hard work of formal analysis. The reason I read so few popular reviewers is because they tend to simply attach adjectives to qualities of the film -- "a gripping story," " a riveting performance" -- without demonstrating the slightest bit of curiosity about how those qualities were controlled by the filmmakers.

Blogging has been such a best of times/worst of times experience for me. My writing has become much more refined over the years. Like Matt, I often rewrite sentences five or six times until they sound right to my ear. Four years of graduate coursework had effectively killed my love of the arts, and blogging in my own voice has helped me to rediscover the pleasures of reading/viewing. Unfortunately, academia still is not very fond of this style of criticism (and for many good reasons) and so my career has undoubtedly suffered.

January 05, 2006 11:01 AM  
Blogger girish said...

"Like Matt, I often rewrite sentences five or six times until they sound right to my ear."
Writing at the computer keyboard or the piano keyboard are almost identical processes for me.
I repeat, rework and refine phrases and lines (be it melody or text) over and over until I'm satisfied with the way they sound.

January 05, 2006 11:32 AM  
Anonymous jmac said...

g, I feel I can be honest with you. I think that including personal perception/experience is the only redeeming quality of film criticism, and so few published writers seem to open up any sort of personal/real feeling. I'm a little over contemporary feature films right now as true earth shattering mind explosive cinema poems that traverse the highest pinnacles and the lowest depths and generate surprising pathways to ways of seeing. So even the best objective description, especially from the perspective of a "cultural authority" is not going to engage me the way the cinema blogs do, for example . . . . Thanks for listening!

January 05, 2006 11:45 AM  
Blogger HarryTuttle said...

The very adjectives, Darren, that end up quoted out of context on marketing campaigns...

Why the audience blames a review to be too analytical? This consumerist star/thumb-coded traffic light is harming criticism as well as popular cinema (thus the crisis in studios now!)

It's ridiculous of me to talk about English language writing. Let me correct something in my post. I was blaming the mannerism in style, not its purity which is I believe what you guys are talking about.
To articulate with pertinence and fluidity is a minimal requirement in writing (although I can't say I'm too obsessive on this).
What is counterproductive for criticism is to turn a review into a stand-alone exercice of style, to show off writing skills and authoring ego, making the film an excuse to write up a flurry of well balanced self-indulgent sentences. And this is mostly true of print critics! (even in France)

I prefer to read writers in fiction work. Talent often gets in the way of a more meaningful and less lyrical account of the film's achievements. I know it's not a popular stance, sorry, but I'm only talking about films here.

Rhetoric convinces of any opinion with sugar coating. Which explains how the evaluation of the same same movie can go from masterpiece the piece of shit, according to the authors' fad.
If critics make up their mind with so much leeway, then cinema must be an emotional evaluation and the industry continues to push the right buttons.
That's one major reason why critics are mistrusted and picked randomly for their approval of the reader's prejudice.

January 05, 2006 12:46 PM  
Anonymous Adam said...

girish and everyone,

it's nice to know i'm not the only one thinking about all these things, so i appreciate all that's been said here. not wanting to repeat what others have said, i want to center in on Martin's 'back it up' comment. i have been a big advocate of 'backing up' both the negative and positive criticisms i make. i have read too many reviews that claim a film is misogynistic or 'the war film to end all wars' w/o backing up such claims. when i make a claim, i have to demonstrate what brings me to make that claim. in investigating, i occassionally find that my claim is false, or else too weak to warrant mentioning.

also, i'm also an advocate of noting the people who influence me, or whose work i'm working off of, so i'm one to drop authors and the books of theirs i'm reading. just as i'm riffing off the films, i'm riffing off other writers and want to be sure to give them props when there work is a big part of my work. of course, noting everyone can make the piece cumbersome, but the more prominent ones i always try to note.

in some ways, these demonstrate the greatest shift in my writing, which is becoming more and more aware of 'audience studies', wanting to be cognizant of research in audience reception before making a solid claim about a film's affects. i definitely have some reviews from my past that make me cringe knowing what i know now about this area of media studies.

January 05, 2006 12:46 PM  
Blogger HarryTuttle said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

January 05, 2006 12:51 PM  
Blogger HarryTuttle said...

Adding: Reading English reviews makes me concentrate more on the content than the style, for best or worst, thus I give as much attention to bloggers and established critics.

January 05, 2006 12:53 PM  
Anonymous Michael said...

What a great topic, Girish. When I was in grad school, the professors, writers, historians, et. al. who impressed me the most were the ones who could reveal something about a topic or a book that I had previously failed to see. I think that's one thing I look for when reading film criticism. It's essentially a matter of illumination. I've become less interested in the type of criticism that summarizes a plot and then points out what's good or bad in a film, and more interested in criticism that reveals what a film means, how it works, what the experience of watching it is like, etc. I've also admired critics who had certain intellectual agendas, as opposed to those who essentially "reviewed" a movie (I suspect that's why I admired Sontag so much). I do think it's possible to write about film in a somewhat objective way, for there are elements, structures, visuals, etc. in a film that are identifiable. But, having said all that, I have really come to prize film writing that incorporates life and artistic experience, and allows that to inform the analysis of a film. In other words, if we're not relating film to our experiences, I'm not sure what we're doing, since film is experience.

My own writing has changed much. Being a trained academic, my prose has habitually been the stilted, patrician academic type (though I've never been big on jargon). Recently, I've tried hard to relax it as much as I can, to be much more personal, and to open up more emotionally. It's not an easy thing to do, but writing in general is very hard. I often rework and rework and rework something, cutting and cutting until I get close to what's in my head. And as I've tried to get out of the academic mode of writing, I've tried to be more literary, but that's possibly the result of recently spending some long-overdue time with Mr. Nabokov :-)

January 05, 2006 1:05 PM  
Anonymous acquarello said...

I definitely agree with Martin's statement the polarized reaction 'brings out the best'. In fact, I hate this kind of constant empty hyperbole and I’m always more than a bit dismayed when colleagues more often than not take this kind of verbal gymnastics as proof that a critic has 'wit' and therefore, 'style'. Their articles seem to me to exist only to seek admiration - not to inform the reader, not, as Michael mentioned, to illuminate.

Anyway, the one lasting impression that I have for Thierry Knauff's Baka was the way that this tribe would try to erase all traces of their passage as they moved from place to place, and the profound humility intrinsic in an act like that is something that I've always felt very close to. Recently, the Lupton book on Marker made me think of this again, particularly because even though his films are clearly personal, he is still to some extent invisible, and that's the kind of personal essay that I would say is ideal - something that informs without the overt intrusion of personality, without trying to court attention to yourself. I'm really not that interested in hearing the author's personal history for why he or she ended up connecting with a certain film. To be honest, this is one of the reasons I can't completely embrace this notion of Christian film criticism as well, as if faith is something that can be compartmentalized from your consciousness. Faith always informs your views and perception of the world, I don't see the need for this separation. It's another way of calling attention to oneself, which goes against the very virtue of humility.

As for changing, that's pretty much inevitable as you writing and film experience evolves; I tend to agree with the "finding your own voice" chorus though.

January 05, 2006 2:09 PM  
Blogger girish said...

Thank you, all!
What a great read.
I am honored that you took the time to set down your thoughts in detail here.

I thought I’d add a few thoughts, scattershot:

--I think I personally tend to err towards a sort of holistic view of writing: the borders between fiction and nonfiction, or between film and film criticism, basically between different modes of creative activity, can be permeable. (I do consider that criticism can be a "creative" activity). In other words, I don't think of the filmmaker solely as a "creator" and the critic solely as an "illuminator". They both illuminate the world, and they both perform creative activities. (The good ones, that is. ) :-)

-- Yes, I agree that illuminating a film is the primary objective of film criticism, but I guess I don’t see criticism as confined to being merely informational or explicative. In its humble way, good film criticism can have value that is aesthetic and literary.

-- I despise the empty word-slinging and wise-cracking that might sometimes supplant substantive criticism these days. But style is a critical aspect of a writer's work. As we know from film, the manner in which a story is told is as important as the story itself, sometimes more so. If it is reduced to (or simply equated with) wit, yes I agree, the term becomes not very useful.

-- It’s not possible in my opinion to write impartially about anything. If it was, we would have no use for Derrida or deconstruction. (I know, lot of people don't. :-)). Ideologies are inscribed within us and they will be in turn inscribed in the texts that we create. What we can do is apply ourselves to the "hard work of formal analysis" while foregrounding those ideological assumptions where we can.

– Film criticism, like any other writing, employs the raw material of language. Language has been employed for hundreds of years by toilers in the writing profession. Good criticism uses language penetratingly, insightfully, imaginatively. Not unlike the manner in which fiction writers have used language for centuries. We can learn a lot about how to use language by reading writers of fiction. [duh]. (And that permeability aspect again.)

- Also, good criticism describes what a viewer sees on the screen. (This was one of Sontag's definitions of what a critic does.) This description occurs through language. Making language (and its formal qualities) very important. [double duh].

- Acquarello: Thanks for the Thierry Knauff anecdote. And isn't it ironic: Marker's cinema wouldn't even exist if it weren't for traces left by the world; it is asssembled entirely from them.

Sorry if I repeated myself a few times, but I have a habit of doing that!

January 05, 2006 6:28 PM  
Blogger HarryTuttle said...

Sorry to abuse your blogspace girish, I guess I take this subject too much at heart.

"Good criticism uses language penetratingly, insightfully, imaginatively."
I agree 100%, not about a command of language operating on equal level with fiction authoring.

You seem to make "critic" and "writer" synonymous, whereas they are distinct jobs to me, like "critic" and "reviewer" can be.

A film is a creation, criticism is not. If you make fiction-criticism you superimpose another layer of creative input onto an already finished creation.

Like if an art critic would paint his own painting to explain a painting...

January 05, 2006 7:41 PM  
Blogger girish said...

Sorry, Harry, I disagree entirely. There are a myraid creative decisions involved in writing a work of criticism: formulating an "angle of attack" (per Martin), structuring the piece & giving it an arc, finding many many ways of linking the film to the world-at-large and the world of all other art, and then choosing every phrase, every word out of thin air,...it's endless. We may not be consciously aware of it but creative inspiration is necessary for these activities.

January 05, 2006 7:53 PM  
Blogger girish said...

Oh by the way, you seem to be using "creative" and "fiction" synonymously. :-)
I don't agree with that. Marker and Wiseman are no less creative artists than some fiction filmmaker simply because they make docs or essay films...

January 05, 2006 7:58 PM  
Blogger girish said...

Jean Renoir:

"To the question 'Is cinema an art?' my answer is, 'What does it matter?' You can make films or you can cultivate a garden. Both have as much claim to be called art as a poem by Verlaine or a painting by Delacroix. If your film or your garden is a good one it means that as a practitioner of cinema or gardening you are entitled to consider yourself an artist. The pastry-cook who makes a good cake is an artist. The ploughman with an old-fashioned plough creates a work of art when he ploughs a furrow. Art is not a calling in itself but the way in which one exercises a calling, and also the way in which one performs any human activity. I will give you my definition of art: art is 'making'. The art of poetry is the art of making poetry. The art of love is the art of making love.

My father [the impressionist painter, Pierre-Auguste Renoir] never talked to me about art. He could not bear the word. If his children chose to go in for painting, acting or music, they were free to do so, but they must never be pushed. The urge to paint a picture must be so powerful that it could not be resisted. My father said of Mozart, whom he worshipped, 'He wrote music because he could not prevent himself,' to which he added, 'It was like wanting to pee.' He considered that the mode of expression was unimportant. If Mozart had not made music he would have written poems or planted gardens."

January 05, 2006 8:06 PM  
Blogger girish said...

Ben--you is funny.

January 05, 2006 8:26 PM  
Blogger Ben said...

I try, sir.

January 05, 2006 9:31 PM  
Blogger HarryTuttle said...

Needless to say that I respect your belief Girish, this nitpicking is for the sake of exploring the argument.

You do well to correct me, I did assume you meant the same thing by "creativity" and "fiction" in your last post. I don't think they are equivalent tho. Your "creativity" pertains to the "formal style"/"subjectivity of (writing) form" in my first comment, and that I agreed 100% with in my previous one. I think we meet on this point, I'm not suggesting good criticism doesn't require literary talent (which is functional more than real creation in an artistic sense).

This is not an input on the writing content, that would substitute to the film content. A tautological "writing for writing", creating original content beyond the filmic realm.

Your parallel of documentary/fiction with criticism/filmmaking works indeed. Although the documentary is a commentary on neutral reality, while criticism is a commentary on a conscious man-made artistic work.
There is a human aesthetical stance in filmmaking that is not in natural reality.

If it's a creation of itself it's not (pure) criticism, it's a "literary essay dealing with filmic material" or a poem maybe. IMHO. You may disagree.

Critic as auteur : This is a debate they had not so long ago on a_film_by. Do critics have a signature, trademarks, agenda, message? Do they produce a stand alone piece of literature art which poetry worth more than its subject matter?


Renoir uses a vulgar/technical acception of "art" (handicraft, manufacturing, artifact) which can't be further from its artistic significance. His trivial examples tell.

Love (spiritual feeling) = Sex (physical act)? He's closer to the hippie movement than to the medieval Amour Courtois there.

As far as theory of the Arts (with a capital A), the best gardening/cooking will never be on the same level as Verlaine or Delacroix... There is a concept of uselessness defining Art.
I don't know what went through his head when he wrote that, he just defends mainstream cinema I guess.

January 05, 2006 10:08 PM  
Blogger girish said...

O Flickhead, Thou Hath Excellent Taste.

January 05, 2006 11:27 PM  
Anonymous chuck said...

I'm skipping all of the previous comments to note that this is an interesting question. I think my film reviews are meant to accomplsih something similar--to encourage people to seek out films they might otherwise miss. Of course I also always have political aims as well.

I don't know that my writing has changed that much over the last two or three years since I started a blog. I know that I have begun writing more explicitly with an audience in mind (shorter sentences, more transitions and guideposts).

January 05, 2006 11:44 PM  
Anonymous chuck said...

In terms of the "subjectivity" issue, I haven't pretended to be objective for a long time, and my blog has only intensified that practice. Maybe this is a bit arrogant, but because there are so many other places where you can read reviews, I simply assume that people who read my blog want to know about my specific investment in a film.

I still think about blogs as a conversation. And even my academic writing is taking on a slightly more conversational tone.

January 05, 2006 11:48 PM  
Blogger girish said...

Oh this is funny: Engrish.com:
"Humorous English mistakes that appear in Japanese advertising and product design."
via Jeannette.

January 06, 2006 9:11 AM  
Anonymous Filmbrain said...

Fascinating topic! The Martin quote of course ties nicely in to the recent discussion on Matt's site about Missionaries and Sceptics. Martin seems to believe the ideal critic is a bit of both. I tend to agree.

I'm put off by the feigned objectivity of many professional critics. Shortly before the end of 2005, Charlie Rose had a panel of critics on to discuss the year in film. It was one of the most frustrating hours of television I'd seen in ages. A.O. Scott, Lisa Schwarzbaum, Richard Corliss and David Denby doing their damndest to avoid any kind of genuine subjective conflict, lest they besmirch the name of the fine establishments they write for. It was irritating as hell.

These days, outside of a small handful of critics I admire, I much prefer to read bloggers. Unedited, sloppy at times (just look at my own writing!), but a genuine passion for film. (Of course, in the blogging world there are those that are just as willing to whore themselves out for pullquotes as the pros, but fortunately they are few and far between.)

As for myself, I never imagined I'd have a film blog, let alone any readers. I'm a screenwriter, not a critic. I don't apply any formal method to my writing. Sure, I rail against Hollywood at times, but usually only when its influence can be felt in foreign films. I guess I've become somewhat of a missionary for Korean films, though I'm more than willing to criticize when appropriate (as I did in my most recent review).

I'm all for the "back it up" concept, which was one of the motivating forces behind my negative review of Munich. Endless praise was being heaped on the film, but I found little in the way of convincing arguments. Empty accolades and handful of adjectives ("brave", "daring", etc.) but nothing that convinced me why it was any different than Spielberg's other manipulative efforts.

Harry -- I couldn't agree more with just about everything you've written here. Anthony Lane of the New Yorker is a perfect example of a writer who is more about style than substance. At times I envy his ability to turn a clever phrase, but his film reviews are now more about showing how witty he is rather than the film itself. But sadly, I feel you and I are in the minority on this point.

Girish -- sorry to take up so much space, but like Harry this is a topic that is of extreme importance to me as well.

January 06, 2006 11:27 AM  
Blogger girish said...

Thank you, Filmbrain, for taking the time. I enjoyed reading your thoughts.
I agree completely about Anthony Lane: his "wit" is insufferable because it is smarmy, and subservient to his (dubious) love of cinema. (You are not in as small a minority as you think--I have heard several others express this opinion too.)
But, to me, wit does not equal style.
Style is a product of a vast number of formal choices we make in our writing. Every writer, whether he or she is consciously aware of it or not, has a style.
And referring to Acquarello's point about humility, Lane might be the least humble major film critic in print today.

January 06, 2006 11:51 AM  
Blogger girish said...

"His "wit" is insufferable because it is smarmy, and subservient to his (dubious) love of cinema."
Oops.
Meant to say:
Lane's writing is more about his own cleverness than it is about his passion for cinema.

January 06, 2006 12:41 PM  
Anonymous Filmbrain said...

I think there's a war against passion. It goes against PoMo posturing, for one thing. Having an emotion is too much of a modernist concept, I guess. It's the same reason hipsters go see classic films and laugh all the way through them -- to prove their critical distance from it. Annoying as hell.

Just read that Lou Rawls died. Sad.

January 06, 2006 12:46 PM  
Blogger girish said...

My worst screening ever:
seeing Ordet with a bunch of hipper-than-thou's who screamed with laughter at the ending.
In the midst of that most spiritual moment, I had a most un-spiritual thought:
Fucking Assholes.
Needless to say, it ruined the screening.

January 06, 2006 12:53 PM  
Anonymous Michael said...

Well, I'll join the chorus on Lane here. While on occasion I find that a few of his witty phrases do contain decent points about a film, his reviews really are exercises in showcasing his cleverness. I've never felt that he ultimately provides sustained, incisive analysis about films, nor does he reveal what they are truly about. The films are always secondary.

Girish, to get back to your earlier point about illumination, I wholeheartedly agree that criticism should also have its own aesthetic. The form and the style in which we write is tied to the content. And I'd also concur that criticism is an inherently creative act, even an artistic one. Good critics create not only an argument and an analysis, but a way of thinking and seeing, and present it all in a deliberately careful and creative structure.

January 06, 2006 1:02 PM  
Blogger girish said...

"....but a way of thinking and seeing..."
How true, Michael.
And as applicable to good filmmaking as it is to good criticism.

January 06, 2006 1:08 PM  
Blogger girish said...

At work on a sequel to this post.
Should be ready by Monday morning.

January 06, 2006 3:22 PM  
Anonymous Michael said...

Girish -- looking forward to the sequel.

January 06, 2006 3:26 PM  
Blogger girish said...

Oh thanks, Michael.
If the idea doesn't fall apart on me completely between now and then...

January 06, 2006 3:41 PM  
Blogger girish said...

Not only are Dave Kehr's posts insightful, so are his comments.

January 06, 2006 3:49 PM  
Blogger Ben said...

Totally unrelated to the matter at hand--well, maybe not totally--wasn't there a Showgirls post waiting in the wings, G.? [rubbing hands with glee]

January 06, 2006 6:52 PM  
Blogger girish said...

Ben, you don't miss a thing.
Indeed there was. Or at least a handful of ideas for one.
But I'll come clean: I'm yeller.
I will feel a whole lot better about showing my love for Showgirls if you will pitch in on my side and defend this splendiferous movie when the hate rains down.
(And you know it will). :-)
I think Flickhead will also be fighting on our side. Not to mention Jacques Rivette. :-)

January 06, 2006 7:02 PM  
Blogger Ben said...

Ha! I forgot that Rivette was a fan. That's so excellent.

January 06, 2006 7:26 PM  
Blogger girish said...

David's got a cool post on present and future independent filmmaking.

January 06, 2006 7:26 PM  
Blogger HarryTuttle said...

Thank you to understand me, Filmbrain, I can stop justifying my insecure self now. I always think I'm not saying it right (in English).
Although I realize we all agree here. My idea of "Art" is maybe too sacred.

Did Bazin consider himself an artist?

January 06, 2006 7:41 PM  
Blogger girish said...

Claire Denis' The Intruder was just about the best darn thing I saw last year. Scribbled a bit about it soon after in Toronto.
Now, it's in US release.
Here are a couple of cool interviews with her:
(1) Our pal Rob.
(2) Liza Johnson.
(3) Damon Smith in Senses Of Cinema.

January 06, 2006 8:22 PM  
Anonymous Peter Nellhaus said...

Regarding your experience when viewing Ordet (which I haven't seen yet), why were those people in the audience? I had a somewhat similar experience when I saw Henry King's The White Sister.
I'm looking forward to your piece on Showgirls, the film that introduced me to Gina Gershon!

January 06, 2006 8:35 PM  
Blogger girish said...

Peter, I suspect they were in the audience because the film had been advertised as one of the greatest films ever made, etc. (which I do think it is). So, of course, they had to get hip to it.
Harry--You shouldn't feel insecure about your English. It's very good...

January 06, 2006 8:43 PM  
Blogger Flickhead said...

Girish, if yer yeller about posting "Showgirls" here, send it on over to my place. I'll load that sucker down with so many mouth-watering shots of Elizabeth and Gina, it'll make all of these talking heads spin!

January 06, 2006 9:16 PM  
Blogger girish said...

Heheh.
Actually: Not yeller about the content, just the passion with which so many people hate that movie. We'll have to arm ourselves fully for that one...

January 06, 2006 9:18 PM  
Blogger Brian said...

I've only seen it once, but I will join you in your praise for Showgirls. I wonder if you're aware of the illustrious Eric Henderson's review?

January 06, 2006 9:19 PM  
Blogger girish said...

Awesome, Brian.
Thanks for the link and welcome to the Showgirls Squad!

January 06, 2006 9:21 PM  
Blogger girish said...

Ah. Forgot to mention.
Liza Johnson interview with Claire Denis above is via Kill Fee.

January 06, 2006 11:29 PM  
Blogger Tuwa said...

I've never seen Showgirls, in part because I just don't "get" Verhoeven.

January 06, 2006 11:30 PM  
Anonymous dvd said...

I love Showgirls! But the only time I've seen it was during a robust session of the Showgirls drinking game, so my favor for it might be of a different sort than yours...

January 06, 2006 11:37 PM  
Blogger girish said...

"a robust session of the Showgirls drinking game":
Sounds like a hot tabloid story ripe for unfurling simultaneously with the blog post, David.
"I just don't "get" Verhoeven."
Well Tuwa, the squad will be doing its collective darnedest to remedy that soon! :-)

January 06, 2006 11:51 PM  
Blogger Flickhead said...

I don't think that Verhoeven really "gets" Verhoeven, either. In the making-of featurette included on the Showgirls DVD, he seems to believe he's crafting a musical (!). That all of his characters (in his American films) exist with perpetually clenched faces and hair-trigger "attitude" is apparently beyond his grasp.

Girish, please try to post your comments before engaging in the Showgirls drinking game.

January 07, 2006 5:36 AM  
Anonymous Peter Nellhaus said...

Tuwa: what other Verhoeven films have you seen? I've been following his career since Keetje Tippel and own the Criterion version of RoboCop. I also made a point of seeing Basic Instinct on the biggest movie screen in Denver.

January 07, 2006 8:20 AM  
Blogger girish said...

So of course I had to fire up the Verhoeven again at 2 am last night.
Wise words, Flickhead...
And Peter, the only one of his Dutch films I've seen is The Fourth Man; and I missed his last one, Hollow Man.
Hey wouldn't it be funny if all Showgirls-loving bloggers did their own post about the movie and then synchronized their posts to be released like viruses into the blogosphere at the exact instant in time?

January 07, 2006 8:59 AM  
Anonymous Peter Nellhaus said...

Maybe it's too schedule a group blog, but according to IMDb, January 11 will mark the 10th Anniversary of the Netherlands release of Showgirls.

January 07, 2006 9:35 AM  
Blogger HarryTuttle said...

I like this idea of a collective skeptic criticism, with like-minded teams defending their side. It's fair to the film and it would be more educational to the readers than the unilateral rating of a missionary. :)

January 07, 2006 9:36 AM  
Blogger girish said...

"Missionary".
By the way, Harry, just so you know, I don't consider myself some sort of missionary. No more than you, anyway. :-)

January 07, 2006 11:17 AM  
Anonymous Filmbrain said...

Personally, I can't stomach Showgirls, but I can not begin to tell you how much I enjoy that we can speak of Showgirls and Ordet in the same post. That's enlightened thinking, if you ask me.

Peter -- as to why people go and see these films in the first place. I often ask myself the same question. When Les Parapluies de Cherbourg was re-issued some years back, the audience I saw it with cracked up every time a character started singing. Huh? Did they genuinely not know about the film? And even if not, why would the laughter continue for the whole film?

January 07, 2006 11:33 AM  
Blogger girish said...

"...the audience I saw it with cracked up every time a character started singing."
Considering every single line of dialogue in the film is sung, that would be truly horrifying..

January 07, 2006 11:38 AM  
Blogger girish said...

Oh and Harry--Just because I don't engage in lengthy debates with you doesn't mean I don't value skepticism. :-)

January 07, 2006 11:57 AM  
Blogger Tuwa said...

Peter: I've seen Hollow Man, Starship Troopers, Basic Instinct, Total Recall, and RoboCop. It seems to me there's a pervasive tone in those films: cynical, bordering on nihilistic, with a calculating, manipulative, or indifferent attitude towards others. I know RoboCop and Starship Troopers at least were meant to be satirical, but the grotesque imagery that Verhoeven favors strikes me as a tonal mismatch for the film's apparent intentions. I can't help wondering if I'd like the films more if they weren't so grotesque--if they showed the kind of approach that Kael has in her best reviews, where as someone once commented (I forgot who!), she can eviscerate someone so gracefully she leaves them standing.

Which is not to say Verhoeven is a bad director--only that, so far at least, he's not my cup of tea. And I keep watching his films anyway. ^_^

I'm looking forward to the Showgirls posts (and the viewing that will have to follow it).

January 07, 2006 12:02 PM  
Blogger Flickhead said...

Are we synchronizing an all-blog assault/worship of Showgirls? If so, count me in. January 11 is a little dicey...but if I put things in Gonzo mode, I can pound the sucker out and (to quote Ronny Cox in "Total Recall") be home in time for corn flakes.

January 07, 2006 12:08 PM  
Blogger Zach Campbell said...

Can I come to the Jan 11 Showgirls party, too? I'll need to find something to wear (i.e., see the film again) but I will try my best to bring some booze (i.e., critical insight) for everyone.

My favorite Verhoven is Starship Troopers, but I still don't know his Dutch films ... (shame, shame)

January 07, 2006 12:27 PM  
Blogger girish said...

Wednesday January 11, 9 am?
How 'bout it folks? That sound good?
Sign up here.
Flickhead, Peter, Zach: I'm counting y'all in.
Of course, this means Ben should try to do it too since he started this whole thing...

January 07, 2006 12:40 PM  
Blogger girish said...

Showgirls Blog Party.

January 07, 2006 12:57 PM  
Blogger Flickhead said...

OK! Hopefully non-admirers such as Filmbrain could at least post a word or two from their perspective!

January 07, 2006 2:06 PM  
Blogger girish said...

Yes, please bring your love OR your hate to the party.

January 07, 2006 2:38 PM  
Blogger girish said...

And I happen to know that the Siren despises this film. I shall drop her a line. She might provide a bracing antidote to our (icky sweet) love for it.

January 07, 2006 3:14 PM  
Anonymous Matt said...

I haven't even seen Showgirls, believe it or not! I might have to sit this one out.

January 07, 2006 4:27 PM  
Blogger Brian said...

Matt, you've got four days!

January 07, 2006 4:33 PM  
Blogger Flickhead said...

tic toc tic toc . . .

Hopefully this will stir up interest: click.

Forward the link to every blogger you know. Let's make Wednesday International Showgirls Day!

January 07, 2006 4:41 PM  
Blogger girish said...

OMG.
Just glanced at the Rotten Tomatoes page for Showgirls.
I've never seen such a low rating: 14%!
And here's one of the few positive blurbs: "Showgirls is fun, pure and simple, as long as you don't take any of it seriously."
Sheesh.

January 07, 2006 5:24 PM  
Blogger Tuwa said...

Girish: I present you Alone in the Dark.

For awhile I had that page of reviews as my browser's start page because I loved to load it up and have a laugh or two.

January 07, 2006 6:09 PM  
Blogger girish said...

Tuwa, that's a hoot.

January 07, 2006 6:19 PM  
Anonymous Peter Nellhaus said...

Verhoeven's Dutch films are on DVD. Soldier of Orange is actually a pretty straight forward war film. I also really liked Verhoeven's first English language film, Flesh + Blood.
87 comments now, is this a new record? So far the most comments I've gotten is three.

January 07, 2006 6:29 PM  
Blogger girish said...

Peter, I didn't even know about Flesh+Blood.
Just discovered two interesting things in the last 15 minutes:
(1) One of the most prestigious film journals, Film Quarterly, apparently had a (rare) roundtable on the film. (Not on-line).
(2) A Verhoeven interview in which he dismissed the film as being really bad.
But then again, what the hell does he know? :-)

January 07, 2006 6:47 PM  
Blogger girish said...

Oh, I was referring to Showgirls above.

January 07, 2006 7:17 PM  
Anonymous Darren said...

Great. Now I'm going to have to step up to the cash register at Best Buy, Showgirls DVD in hand, and try to convince some pimple-faced cashier that I'm not a trenchcoat-wearin' perv. I'll be sure to take my very tall, very blonde wife along with me. ;)

January 07, 2006 7:25 PM  
Blogger HarryTuttle said...

"By the way, Harry, just so you know, I don't consider myself some sort of missionary. No more than you, anyway."
I wasn't refering to you Girish, or anybody here. Your blog is very much a highlight of skepticism, and you're the one who engages in the longest debates with me.
I consider you a better skeptic than me by all means, you know.

I know my arrogant activism probably sounds very missionary while I'd like to see myself a skeptic. I guess I'm very concervative for methods but I hope I'm open enough on content to listen to anyone who disagree with my views.

Verhoeven got a complete retrospective at the Paris Cinemathèque last year!
I didn't like the kitsch aesthetics of his early dutch B-movies (The 4th Man notably). I missed Flesh+Blood and Turkish Delight that I wanted to catch.
I love the thick and personalized atmosphere of Total Recall, Basic Instinct, Robocop and Starship Troopers.

And I didn't see Showgirls because of the bad buzz, let's see if this anniversary will bait me.

January 07, 2006 7:26 PM  
Blogger girish said...

Darren, you braggart. :-)

January 07, 2006 7:27 PM  
Blogger girish said...

Tout va bien, Harry.
At first I thought you were, like, insulting me... :-)
And is it true that Showgirls has some favorable critical reputation in France? I just assume sometimes that the French show an appreciation for things we like to ignore or trash here (like Kubrick's Eyes Wide Shut, which has so much better of a reputation in Europe than it does here.)

January 07, 2006 7:33 PM  
Blogger HarryTuttle said...

"Collective skeptic criticism" refered to your idea of a Showgirls group celebration. ;)

Actually the critic (I don't remember his name) who wrote the blurb on Showgirls for the retrospective called it his best masterpiece, and complained about the bad reputation.

I guess the reason why Eyes Wide Shut is dismissed in the USA is because you got a digitally censored version... With all the nude it's a much better film. :p

Seriously I think it's a great Kubrick. A very interesting study of couple sexuality symbolism, on the same wavelength as The Wayward Cloud or even A History of Violence.

January 07, 2006 8:49 PM  
Blogger Brian said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

January 07, 2006 8:59 PM  
Blogger Brian said...

Should we all try to remember to include the imdb link to
Showgirls
on that day, so that we suddenly appear on Technorati's movie page?

January 07, 2006 9:01 PM  
Blogger Ben said...

Oh my dear lord in heaven-- this is a beautiful sight to see. Wednesday it is. Brilliant.

January 07, 2006 9:07 PM  
Blogger girish said...

Great idea, Brian.
Let's all link to imdb that day...

And it's all thanks to Ben, the prophetic whine-colored one.
[cue Jackson 5 song].

January 07, 2006 9:18 PM  
Blogger girish said...

Harry, the Kubrick is one of my favorites by him. I was in Paris when it was released and all the reviews seemed so positive; it wasn't that way here.

January 07, 2006 9:27 PM  
Anonymous Matt said...

Four days, eh? I'll see what I can do.

January 08, 2006 3:36 AM  
Blogger girish said...

Got my work cut out for me today.
Gotta finish that sequel post for tomorrow.
Go to a party tonight which, sobriety prevailing, will climax with a screening of Renoir's The River on a 15-foot projection screen.
And Showgirls to brainstorm.
"You take the cash, you cash the check, you show the people what they want to see."

January 08, 2006 8:21 AM  
Anonymous dvd said...

Just added Showgirls to the top of my queue. Without any delays, it should arrive Tuesday afternoon. Sorry, Bleak Moments, you'll just have to wait...

January 08, 2006 1:55 PM  
Blogger girish said...

Great, David.
And Joshua is in too.

January 08, 2006 2:36 PM  
Blogger Eric Henderson said...

Thanks for the heads up, Zach C. (And Brian for the shout out.)

I already shot my wad on the semi-serious tip, but I'll definitely whip something up for my moribund blog.

January 08, 2006 5:47 PM  
Blogger Eric Henderson said...

Oh, and:

Wednesday January 11, 9 am?

Which time zone? Netherlands or Vegas?

January 08, 2006 7:30 PM  
Blogger HarryTuttle said...

How snub are you Girish to go watch Kubrick in Paris ;) Just joking.

See that's the limit of my English, when a compliment I made is perceived as an insult (or is it just my manners?)

I checked and no show of Showgirls available here this week... I'll join you in mind and buy myself a lapdance at Exotica.

January 08, 2006 7:51 PM  
Blogger Zach Campbell said...

This is a helluva lot of comments, Girish.

I may end up having to post mine early on Wednesday morning, before I head to work, so 7:30-ish Eastern time (USA). Would that be too premature for everyone's taste?

January 08, 2006 8:16 PM  
Blogger Mubarak Ali said...

Count me in, Girish. A collective blog appraisal of Showgirls, (which I totally admire!) is too tempting an idea to pass. (I guess I'll be adjusting for time changes to synchronise the post with y'all since I live in New Zealand...)

But first, I look forward to revisiting the damn thing!

January 08, 2006 10:32 PM  
Blogger Eric Henderson said...

I'm shocked that there are people who don't know the film by heart.

January 08, 2006 10:37 PM  
Anonymous The Pop View said...

Most of my ideas of film criticism are influenced by a college class I took back in the mid-Eighties. Dr. John Schultheiss was the head of what was then called the Radio-TV-Film department at California State University, Northridge (It is now called the Department of Cinema and Television Arts). His class was "Criticism in the Broadcast Media," and rather than teaching one how to be a critic (or even a reviewer), he taught various approaches to film criticism and left it to us to figure out which to utilize.

Recall that professional film reviewers were not held in much esteem until the Seventies, and they didn't have much popular impact until the Eighties, with the rise of Siskel & Ebert (with their TV show and "thumbs up-down" grading).

We looked at various schools: Mimetic, Pragmatic, Expressive, and Objective Theories. We discussed M.H. Abrams' analysis (from The Mirror and The Lamp) that all critical theories examine works from four angles: the work itself, the artist, the world we live in, and the audience.

We listened to an audio tape of the Siskel & Ebert program and noted how utterly subjective their approach was; fortunately, Ebert's writing has always been better. I was put off Pauline Kael for life by reading a number of her reviews and immediately following that by reading Renata Adler's famous critique "The Perils of Pauline."

In the end, I have been left feeling that there is no one legitimate way of approaching film criticism. There is only the quality of the critical thinking you employ in your approach.

By the way, Dr. Schultheiss is still at CSUN.

January 08, 2006 11:15 PM  
Blogger girish said...

Eric & Mubarak--Welcome aboard.
And Tim will be joining us too.
Zach, that's fine, don't worry about it.
Why don't we relax the deadline to sometime Wednesday morning, preferably close to 9 am if we can make it, but really, anytime is fine...
I'll be dropping a line to David at Greencine with the names of all confirmed Cristal Comrades so he'll know to look for us Wednesday morning.
And Harry, your manners are *perfectly* fine; sorry to make you feel self-conscious about it. :-)

January 08, 2006 11:18 PM  
Blogger girish said...

Monsieur Pop View--Thanks for the comment.
And the Abrams sounds great; I'll have to track it down.

January 08, 2006 11:24 PM  
Blogger girish said...

And M. Pop View--Wanted to say how much I enjoyed the Pharrell/Tribe Called Quest and "You Keep Me Hangin' On" mash-ups you posted a few weeks back. They've been on heavy rotation around here.
Not sure if you take requests.
But an overview/primer post on mash-ups with a handful of your favorites would be *enormously* appreciated...

January 08, 2006 11:29 PM  
Blogger girish said...

Eric--Can I just say that your Slant review of Showgirls (which Brian introduced me to) is the *best* darned thing I've ever read about the movie. Seriously. You make me feel like there's nothing I could possibly add...

January 08, 2006 11:52 PM  
Blogger girish said...

Eric:
"Oh, and: Wednesday January 11, 9 am?
Which time zone? Netherlands or Vegas?"

I don't know. Why don't we sort of split the difference and go with New York (i.e. Eastern)?...

January 09, 2006 12:03 AM  
Blogger Joshua said...

Girish, you're the only one who could get my tits poppin' right!

January 09, 2006 3:23 AM  
Blogger girish said...

Heheheh.

January 09, 2006 8:26 AM  
Blogger Flickhead said...

Wanna know a secret? Click here!

January 09, 2006 8:50 AM  
Blogger girish said...

The word's out.

January 09, 2006 9:10 AM  
Blogger girish said...

Matt--This is freaky.

January 09, 2006 9:42 AM  
Anonymous The Pop View said...

You ask for something about mash-ups? Your wish is my command.

If you take a look at this post, there are some links that give you the background on mash-ups. This post links to two versions of a long mix called “Raiding the 20th Century,” which presents an audio history of the mash-up. And you can find some good examples of mash-ups in some of my posts: here, here and here.

Mash-ups may no longer have the cachet they once did, but their popularity continues. I will try to put together a more lengthy overview soon.

January 09, 2006 10:16 AM  
Blogger girish said...

Thank you, Mr. Pop View.
That's a wealth of info.
Please don't go out of your way to do a primer--you've given me plenty already.

January 09, 2006 10:34 AM  
Blogger Eric Henderson said...

You make me feel like there's nothing I could possibly add...

Slant could've gotten anyone to write on that film: Janet Jackson, Paula Abdul. I can only hope that I was as good as the show.

So, 9am EST it shall be.

And speaking of all things gyno, my very favorite mash-up is Go Home Productions' "I Dream of P***y" (a cross between the vocals of Khia's "My Neck, My Back" and the theme from TV's I Dream of Jeannie), though the composer treats it like some tossed-off cheap shot and never puts the mp3 link up on his site.

January 09, 2006 4:24 PM  
Anonymous Filmbrain said...

On the topic of Showgirls, I actually stayed up till 2:30AM last night watching it after I returned home from a screening of The Proposition. I'd not seen it since its release, and I have to say (perhaps fueled by the Slant piece) I didn't find nearly as awful as I had remembered. Sure, there are some god-awful lines, but given the film's subject, setting, etc. it kind of works. I still marvel at how incredibly un-erotic a film it is.

January 10, 2006 12:01 PM  
Anonymous Darren said...

After visiting my local Hollywood Video and Blockbuster and coming up empty handed, I ponied up $10 for my own copy of Showgirls. The things I do for blog . . . ;)

January 10, 2006 2:22 PM  
Blogger girish said...

Darren, I'm so proud of you. :-)

January 10, 2006 3:12 PM  
Blogger girish said...

So, I went down to the college library to get myself a copy of the Film Quarterly roundtable on Showgirls. A student of mine works there at the desk; she cried out incredulously, "Oh, Dr. Shaaaambu, I didn't know you were a fan of this mooovie..."
To which I had to cough and reply with blasé casualness, "Um yeah, it's...pretty good...isn't it?"

January 10, 2006 4:52 PM  
Blogger Doug said...

Pop View, I must say I find your comments ("In the end, I have been left feeling that there is no one legitimate way of approaching film criticism") unintentionally ironic given that Dr. Schultheiss plagarized an entire essay I wrote as part of "his" screening notes for a class on Diary of a Country Priest a few months ago--I happened to drop in on his lecture. Ah yes, lots of ways of approaching film criticism. :)

January 11, 2006 10:16 AM  
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