' Cinema Romantico: My Mission Statement

Sunday, January 09, 2011

My Mission Statement

Slate's annual Movie Club is, hands down, always my favorite cinema-related read of the year.  Moderated by Slate's in-house critic Dana Stevens (who I read religiously), this year it also included commentary by Dan Kois, Karina Longworth, Matt Zoller Seitz and Stephanie Zacharek.  It ran all this past week and each morning and afternoon every new post was like a wondrous little gift to unwrap.  Undoubtedly, though, my favorite gift was in the tenth post, one authored by Zoller Seitz. 


One of the funnest things about having this blog, and having had it for so long now, has been attempting to figure out how I personally want to write movie reviews.  I think this is something with which all the friends I've made here in this blogging community can confirm.  There are so many schools of thought as to what a movie review should truly be that it's rather overwhelming.  We all have different views and, of course, I can only speak for myself.  When I read a review I'm yearning for two things: an original voice and a sense of how the reviewer felt while he or she was watching the movie.  Not enough reviewers tell me how they feel.  Excuse me, I meant to say not enough reviewers tell me how they feel. 

Granted, I'm an emotional person.  Actually, over-emotional might be the better term.  To paraphrase Henry James, I feel in italics and think in capitals. And so I guess that's how I try to write my movie reviews.  I try to give you a sensation of the emotions I felt while I was watching it because the emotional aspect of a film is always most important to me.  This is why I never play the guess ahead game during a movie and why I find "that would never happen in real life" arguments tiresome.  I just want to be immersed and let it take me where it will, and either my senses will respond or they won't.

Jim Emerson had an interesting post a fews month ago in which he delved into the purposes of film criticism and he wrote: "....(T)ell me exactly what you see in it that you like or don't like, and why."  I would subscribe to this theory, but I also think Mr. Emerson and I are different types of reviewers.  He focuses on the technical aspects, which is fine, and I focus on the emotional aspects but I do try my best (honest) to tell you what I saw in it that I liked and didn't like, and why.  I just (try to) do that from a position of an insanely over-emotional person.

Thus, bringing this back around, when I read Matt Zoller Seitz's post in the Movie Club his words resonated with me and I realized that he had - likely unwittingly - written Cinema Romantico's mission statement. 

"Emotion is the gateway drug to all cinephilia—and I don't just mean the 'That movie rocked!' variety or 'Dude, that blew!' variety. I mean real cinephilia, which is endlessly curious and always on the search for the next innovation, the next curveball, the next epiphany. That comes from feeling—from personal response. Nobody falls in love with movies because some director framed a shot in a particular way or slyly quoted F.W. Murnau. That stage of appreciation always comes second or third or tenth in a cinephile's evolution. No, people fall in love with movies because they speak to them honestly and directly and with eccentric conviction, like new friends they really didn't expect to make—people who just sort of came out of nowhere and made them realize, 'Oh my God … I'm not alone! Somebody else gets it.'"

2 comments:

Castor said...

Great post and great end quote! Indeed, all movies are simply a tool to search for own identity and movies that fail to address that issue anything more than superficially end up being completely forgotten very quickly.

Nicholas Prigge said...

Yeah, I just love that end quote. That quote brings it all home for me.