Welcome to Full Disclosure Movie Reviews, the review blog that absolutely has a bias. Oscar Wilde once said, “All art is quite useless,” the point being that art, without someone to enjoy it, has no inherent value. It takes an artist as well as an audience to invest a work of art with value, be it emotional, moral, political, or whatever other personal structure we give to art, simply by being human. With this in mind, the reviews that I write for this blog are both academic and personal, two traits that I think all criticism embodies whether critics like to admit it or not. Indeed, criticism that is impersonal ignores the humanity of art, while criticism that is too personal has no objective grounding, and so cannot be understood or related to by anyone else.
The problem I see with film criticism today that it usually falls into one of the two aforementioned categories, no heart or no brain. To counteract this, I’m taking an approach that I like to call Full Disclosure, after the real estate term. What this means is that rather than trying to deny that I have any bias towards a film, or argue that my opinions are the word of God, I will put my biases upfront, out in the open, for all to see, and then dig into the meat of the movie that I’m reviewing, so that all of you who read my reviews will be able to understand both where I’m coming from and why.
To this end, I’m going to put down some ground rules that I’ll stick to in my reviews, so that you know what to expect. Rather than plying you with my qualifications as a writer, I’ll simply let my reviews speak for themselves, and let you make up your own mind as to whether you trust my recommendations or not. I hope these ground rules will help you in making your judgment.
- I will always start with a personal element that shapes my opinion on the film: It’s important to me that you know whether I have a personal connection to a movie, or if I had any expectations going in and why. After all, everyone is part of the audience, even critics. The biggest difference between me and you is that I write about it.
- I will always analyze both the personal elements of a film, as well as the objective, technical elements, from as objective a view as possible: by admitting my bias for a film, I want to then be able to approach the film with you, the reader, as an equal. Just because I may or may not have a greater amount knowledge about film history or technology, does not make my opinion about a movie any more correct than yours. Because of this, it’s necessary that what I write is academic, so as to be educational to you, so that you can reinforce your own opinion as well as understand mine. Criticism is a discussion, not a sermon.
- My reviews are living ideas, not rigid judgments: opinions change, it’s a fact of life. While they may evolve over time to account for complexities we may not have encountered when they first formed, opinions can also be proven to be just plain wrong. I’m not always correct, so when I write a review, I try to keep in mind that someday I may find that a movie was more flawed than I initially realized. Keeping such cases in mind, I may update, expand, or even rewrite a review over a film I’ve already covered, so don’t take everything I may write as my last word on the subject.
- No Stars!: Star ratings are fun because they compress the judgment of a film down to nice digestible symbol. They also make film criticism out to be a gymnastics competition. I don’t want you to look at a movie that I review, see I gave it three stars out of five, and assume my opinion. I want you to participate in a discussion.
- No criticism for the sake of criticism: One of the biggest problems I have with critics in general, and internet critics in particular, is their insistence on being as mean as possible when they don’t like a movie. I think this is one of the main reasons that many people think critics are too high minded and out of touch with the general audience. I also think that it is unnecessary for a movie to be lambasted simply because it is ordinary. To that end, I will tend to write more positive reviews than negative. Most of my reviews will cover movies that I genuinely enjoy and that I think other people will enjoy as well, so long as they are prepared for the type of movie they are seeing. I’m not saying I will never write a negative review; I’m sure I will. But when I do, I will try my utmost to avoid bullying a film for being something that I don’t think it should have been, and I will also never bully a commenter that has a different opinion from my own.
I mean for this blog to be informative, entertaining, and (mostly) gimmick free. I love movies and I think that it is a shame when critics take these works of art and simply talk about them to sound intelligent rather than to engage in a discussion with fellow audience members about their shared love of this wonderful form of art. Also, just because I’m the initiator of a conversation does not mean I’m the only one allowed to talk, and I hope that we can all enjoy each other’s company while we talk about movies together, so please comment and discuss in a cordial and friendly matter.
Thank you for visiting my blog and I hope you enjoy yourself here.