(Apologies! Some of the links got messed up when this first posted. They are all fixed now – enjoy!)
I’ve been asked a couple of times if I’m doing any sort of Oscar review. Nope. My Movies We Loved in 2013 post was my personal Oscars, composed of the opinions of the creative minds that I call friends and mentors.
All I’ll say about the Oscars themselves (a week late) is that I’m very happy for Lupita, a graceful and talented representative for my alma mater. On the subject of Hampshire College, another alum, Jonathan Kitzen, saw a film he co-produced, “The Lady in Number 6,” win best documentary short.
Other than that, I’ll say that Ellen was a thoroughly pleasant host, but my dream telecast is still Hugh Laurie and the Muppets.
ARTICLE OF THE WEEK
“Yesterday I Met a Man Who Has Killed a Lot of People”
This isn’t about movies per se, but it is about our interest in stories. Many of the stories told in our country today concern war and death. Military and postapocalyptic narratives are popular in film, television, books, and video games. The Loquacionist’s article is a brief and beautiful reflection on hearing one such story from a person who lived it.
CO-ARTICLE OF THE WEEK
The Critical Fight over The Act of Killing
I’d like to suggest, much as a group of fish is called a school and a group of crows is called a murder, that a group of critics be called a kerfuffle. The Act of Killing is a documentary in which dictators and generals are asked to face the massacres and genocides they carried out in decades past by re-enacting them. I haven’t seen it yet, but it is by many accounts a masterpiece of cinema. Filmmaker Magazine posted an excellent write-up on the generational fight between critics and the debates over theory amongst documentary filmmakers that have formed in support of and against The Act of Killing. It may have been too feel-bad to win the Oscar for Best Documentary, but I’m fairly certain it will be the doc we talk about most for years to come.
Vivian Kubrick’s Twitter
Vivian Kubrick, daughter of Stanley Kubrick, has been posting never-before-seen photos of her father’s productions, ranging from A Clockwork Orange to The Shining to Full Metal Jacket, on which she composed the score. Not only are they deeply personal photos, but they also reveal hints of a childhood spent amidst terrifying and magical cinematic playgrounds most of us can only visit 3 hours at a time.
Can Women Save Criticism?
This is an interesting piece over at IndieWire. Women certainly need a larger role in the critical community. The title is a lead-in to a greater argument over the evaluative nature of criticism. What I can speak to here, and what I’ve written before, is that criticism has reached a state of perpetual navel-gazing. Criticism is too often mistaken for a critique. I’ll allow myself the occasional “300 Sequel Sucks” review when a movie isn’t just bad but morally wrong, but it shouldn’t be my job to decide whether something is good or bad. That means too many different things to too many different people. It should be a critic’s job to help guide people to the movies they’ll most enjoy by clarifying, concentrating, and amplifying a movie’s deeper purpose or message. My idea of a perfect “review” is something you can read through a different lens before and after you see a film. Beforehand, it should shed light on whether it’s the kind of film you might enjoy. Afterward, that same review ought to be a stepping stone toward discussing a film’s deeper meanings. A good review should have the passion of a work of art put into it, the same passion as a poem or story or a movie itself might have.
Anyway, I’m not qualified to speak to a woman’s experience in criticism, but I can say that it’s my view that film criticism as a whole needs to be taken over by a more engaging, less cynical perspective.
The BBC Makes Cuts
The BBC faced a choice between cutting its youth channel BBC3, featuring shows like Little Britain and Being Human, and cutting funding for shows like Sherlock and Doctor Who. If they chose the former, it would be the first channel cut in their 80-year history. If they chose the latter, it would mean the end of their most popular show at home and their two most popular shows abroad. What do you think they chose?
Of Werewolves and Men
On a lighter note, my favorite critics Down Under, Jordan and Eddie, put together a list you typically don’t see everyday – the top 10 werewolf films of all time. I’m glad to see such films as the underseen Dog Soldiers and Neil Jordan’s classic allegory The Company of Wolves featured on this list.