Tuesday, December 07, 2004

Film reviews

Wrote this as a comment to Jabberwock's blog on a particular site, and then realised it's a blog in itself. So here's what I wrote as a response to why film critics started going online and reading other critics' work before writing their own reviews. This has ultimately created a culture of plagiarism and now almost whole chunks of reviews from Chicago Sun Times etc are being lifted by big critics and represented in national dailies here.

My comment:
I can't really say for sure how this culture developed, not having been around that long (10-15 years as you put it), but I think many critics started going on to the Internet not merely to check cast, crew and other such details as you have suggested, but to also to read what established critics 'abroad' have said so that they could reaffirm their stand. Check if they were thinking along the same lines, because as much as we like to think that a critic can watch a movie and say exactly what s/he thinks, there is always an underlying, let's say apprehension, that you may get it all wrong. I know this opens up another debate (no review is right or wrong), but if you go to town bitching about a movie and it's a blockbuster, and this happens more than once, your credibility is corroded. So before you write you do want to 'check' if you are on the right path, because then that can always work as an alibi. 'Look he/she said so too'.Plus, if you're with a national daily, and not a niche product, then your reviews are for the masses and you must have a pulse or feel of what the audience will like and judge it somewhat by those standards. Now if you are unsure of what the audience likes because you are sitting in your high-brow chair then you need corroboration. Plus, remember, going to a first-day, first-show or just to the hall, whenever, is an excellent indicator because you are now getting first-hand audience reaction, but now most critics sit with other critics in Mahadev Road halls and are therefore almost cut off from the real world when watching and reviewing. Which is why they need to reassure themselves of their own opinion.


Blogger Jabberwock said...

I know, there are so many grey areas in the reviewing business. I usually pride myself on forming my own opinions and setting them down but I can't deny that often (especially when reviewing a difficult book, or a book written by an author I haven't read before/don't know much about) I do research on the Net and get little cues from what more experienced critics have said. Is that trespassing near the fringes of the P-word? I'd like to think 'No' in my own case - if I strongly disagree with an opinion expressed by even the most respected critic in the field, I'll say what I feel - but like I said before reviewing takes you into some very murky waters.

07 December, 2004  
Blogger writer-in-egg-style said...

What matters is the motivation, really. This is often quite transparent.

07 December, 2004  
Blogger writer-in-egg-style said...

Seen The Weeping Camel? It's a film by Luigi Falorni. It is the story of an albino camel facing rejection.

From its very own mother. From the herd.

That's another 'maa' story. It's a film that an overwhelming majority of our writers/reviewers etc won't be bothered with, it being so 'irrelevant'.

Why mention it? Good question. Why bother? Good question. Anyhow, here's a link:


07 December, 2004  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

blogdom surely is a small world, stumbled upon this one, n found myself mentioned in teh 'not finding straight jeans' post, wow! lunatic.rediffblogs.com

07 December, 2004  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Mr Egghead of comments, Humpty Dumpty never got to explaining the Jabberwocky poetry to Alice. We shall assume that you also know that in the original version of the classic, it is not the wall that crashed at the end.

08 December, 2004  
Blogger writer-in-egg-style said...

Slate's travel writer once called India a land of 'wobbleheads' (of which he expressed an instant fondness). It was hardly original, but it's quite likely it struck him uniquely on his visit.

Intellectual Property theft? You must be joking! Moreover, it's the music remix thing---all the better all spiced up!

Which is why I would hesitate to level IP-theft charges (against anybody) of the particularly lurid and trenchant kind found in some parts of the blogosphere.

Much depends on what the writer's motivations and constraints are, and, in the absence of omniscience, these cannot be satisfactorily second-guessed. HP once put out this marvellous ad in a magazine featuring the celluloid-wireframe-built character Shrek, for example, and it is no surprise that it stimulated similar thoughts across the world (the very virginal purpose of the ad maker, perhaps), and in India too. Global awareness is rising. Lots of people in India now read magazines published overseas.

Who composed what phrases/storylines/camera angles/shots/dialogues before whom--- all this is hardly relevant. The thoughts being stimulated IS.

16 December, 2004  

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