Film Criticism, appreciation or overanalysis?

Everybody visits IMDB to check the rating of any movie before tuning into it and the more enlightened ones check out Rotten Tomatoes to see the audience and critique rating. There are some who still are not convinced and scour the reviews section of these websites to finally convince themselves whether to watch or not watch the film in question.

As a millennial, I am guilty of doing all the things I listed above and years of doing that I have come to realize that it hardly matters what the rating of a movie is on these platforms. Joker (2019)- the character study by Todd Phillips is a perfect example in this situation. It was hated by the American Critiques for it’s overly dark and disturbing content. They went so far as to say that it will lead to shootings in America but nothing of that sort happened, the audience, on the other hand, gave it more that ninety percent rating in the first week. As of now the score on rotten tomatoes is 68%-Critiques and 88%- Audience.

Riggan destroys Tabitha in this scene by accusing her of being lazy and not risking anything. That is true but her work is not irrelevant. Criticism is essential for any piece of artwork otherwise there is no merit in it. Any art piece can’t just exist.

This brings me to the point that I am writing this for- is criticism overdone? or for that matter even appreciation or analysis?

The foray of criticism in cinema is often fierce and the criticizers are vigilant in dismissing a film at a moments notice. As Riggan in the above video masterfully rants that critiques merely put labels and should really be taken with a grain of sand. These are opinions of self-proclaimed art/movie buffs who have not made a successful art piece ever.

Film appreciation on the other hand analyses a film for its use of storytelling techniques. This could include editing, sound design or perhaps acting as well. A commercial film can and should be appreciated because it has the potential to be a money grabber in the theatres, on the other hand, box office failures such as Shawshank Redemption become classics.

Film appreciation is mostly limited to filmmakers, students or festival-goers. Majority of the public is not even aware of the existence of this concept. This is an irony because of the popularity of the medium. Everybody knows why a film is bad but not why it is good.

Lastly, I would like to talk about film analysis. There are many YouTube channels analyzing films and giving out their opinions about them. Most of them, however, do not understand cinema. Film analysis is different from critique and appreciation because it focuses more on the subject matter rather than the craft of it and that makes it susceptible to be overdone.

Renegade cut is one of the better film analysis channels, but in this case, the points made here are looking too deep when the depth is not there. A correlation between the family in the film and fascism is made. This correlation does not exist. While a great look into fascism, this analysis is not entirely relevant to the film. Greek families have the father as the in-charge and this film is a portrayal of the extreme version of this. The reasons for exercising the level of control the father enjoys is not clear, however. He continuously tells his kids that anything outside the house premises is dangerous and family is everything.

My analysis comes from watching another Greek film- The idlers of the fertile valley. In it, the father enacts too much control, to the point that the four males in the family sleep with one woman who is the maid. The father tells his sons to not be interested in anything other than staying at home and doing nothing. This becomes particularly troublesome for the youngest son who is in love with the maid and wants to go out to work a job. The father stops him by saying that it is dangerous out there and family is everything- just like the father in Dogtooth tells his kids.

So what do you think? Criticism, appreciation or analysis- What matters the most? Or do these things matter at all?

Author avatar
Ronak Parmar
Art, Design and Technology excite me and keep me busy all the time, I am constantly in search for new things to learn. Having a curious mind, I have taught myself Music Production and web design and development. I can say one of my hobbies is to learn new things.

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