Monday, February 25, 2013

Less Reviews, More Crap You Might Actually Want To Read

As I typed my review of A Good Day to Die Hard, something occurred to me: I didn’t want to write it.  It’s not that the film was so bad it didn’t deserve criticism (although I did find it to be generally awful), it was mainly because of the futility of my review.  I am not delusional; I am aware that barely anyone reads my reviews.  I’ve been at this for a few years now and nothing has really come of this amateur movie critic job I’ve created for myself.  Sure, at first it was quite rewarding.  I was published (and still am) in the local newspaper, and I even got a link posted on IMDb’s homepage (back when they still had a list of links at the bottom of the page).  After a year or so, I joined the Indiana Film Journalists Association, which has allowed me to feel legitimate as I get screeners and invites to early screenings.  But now it’s starting to feel a little pointless.  I’ve felt this way for a while, but I decided to keep trudging on, even though less than a dozen people read each review (trust me, I’ve checked my hit count).  After I finished that last review, however, I decided that it’s time to change.
First off, I will still write normal reviews when I feel like I have something interesting to say.  If I find the film mediocre and no one seems to care about it, then I won’t write anything.  To be honest, I’ve started to do this a bit already.  It’s just that if I don’t find my writing interesting, then why should anyone else?  So, only interesting reviews about interesting movies from here on out.
Secondly, I don’t like reading reviews, and I’ve started to understand just how pointless they are.  This is not an attack on film criticism.  I believe that films should be analyzed and discussed at length.  The idea behind reviews is simply wrong.  Reviews were originally intended to let the reader know if a movie was good or not.  Years ago, maybe that was the case, but in today’s world, reviews only serve to enrage or placate fans who have decided for themselves if a movie is good or not.  Now you only hear about reviews for inane reasons.  For example, Rex Reed’s Identity Thief review was talked about because he resorted to name-calling instead of actual analysis (of course, how you can analyze comedy is up for debate anyway).  Aside from that, the only time I see that people have commented on a Rotten Tomatoes review is when the movie is immensely popular and someone wrote a negative review.  Remember how the internet commentators freaked out when a few early Dark Knight Rises reviews were negative?  People were freaking out about a negative review for a movie they had not seen.  Is this the point of criticism? 
This is why I’ve become so burnt out by it all.  It seems the only way to get notice is to get gimmicky or be the first person to review a highly anticipated film.  The problem is that I live in southern Indiana, many miles away from any theatres that screen films early.  This is why nearly all of my reviews come out days after the film is released.  Also, I can’t get on Rotten Tomatoes.  My small town newspaper isn’t recognized by them and I was turned down by the Internet Film Critics Society and to be honest, I haven’t put forth enough effort to be considered by them again when I’m eligible for another application.
So what now?  Do I just fade away, writing one review every couple months?  That simply will not work.  I still have a strong desire to write about movies.  I’m just freeing myself from this personal obligation to review nearly everything I see in a theatre.  I used to write essays about certain films, and those essays produced the most feedback.  My essay about John Carpenter was what got me on IMDb’s home page.  My friends told me they enjoyed the essays more than the reviews, anyway.  I should have listened to them long ago.  The problem is that my few loyal readers follow the same rule that I follow: watch the movie, then read the reviews.  Many of them simply do not watch many of these films, so why should they care what I think of them?  I don’t read reviews of stuff I haven’t seen, and I certainly don’t read reviews of films I have no interest in seeing. 
Which brings me, finally, to my plan of action.  I am starting a new series of essays about movies I loved during my childhood and/or films I think have become unfairly forgotten.  I’m going to reminisce about the films that turned me into the movie buff I am today.  Sometimes I’ll just write my memories of the film, other times I’ll revisit the films and possibly offer a new opinion.  Most importantly, the films I will discuss will be films that have been out for years.  This way I can write about them in spoiler-filled glory, and my intended audience will most likely have already seen the movies.  These essays will be about films that I love so I won’t feel obligated to write about them; I’ll actually want to write about them, and, hopefully, people will want to read them.  I’m not too worried about that, though.  I’ll have no problem with a small hit list on my site because that’s not my goal.  My goal now is to write amusing and interesting articles about beloved (or possibly hated) films from the past. 
In a few days, I’ll be publishing the first of many articles about older films that I first watched, and loved, when I was a kid during the 90s.  I think it’s fitting to begin with the Die Hard trilogy.  So check back later for my article, “Childhood Memories of Die Hard.”


  1. I admit, I didn't read your reviews unless it was a movie I had seen (which isn't very often). I think this new style of essays will give you a broader range of your writing abilities and you and your readers will enjoy it more. So, I will be checking it out more often!

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