No Hex Please, We're Critics Dept.


Cannes Dispatch: Son of Saul - From the Current - The Criterion Collection

It is one of my most strongly held critical beliefs that you should not write about films you don’t like. First, it is bad for the soul to exult in pointing out the deficiencies of the film in question. Second, if you have ever had the luck to produce a film yourself, you are aware that any film that makes it to a public screen is a small miracle of energy and determination, and it is simply unkind to say that the miracle was a complete waste of time. Finally, and on a more prudential note, people mind about bad reviews, so it is a very quick way of making a lot of enemies.

I disagree on almost every single point made here:

1) It is actually quite good for the soul to point out the deficiencies of a film, because those deficiencies might be something you're well-equipped to call out and discuss for the sake of everyone's benefit. Also, the benefit is not merely for your own soul, but for the souls of others walking in who might otherwise not be aware of the argument you have to bring to the table.

2) The amount of work put into something has nothing to do with its final quality. Miracles can happen on shoestrings; millions of dollars can be thrown to the wind. If I don't feel any act of creation was worth the time needed to take it in, then I reserve the right to defend the feeling that I got robbed. Granted, it took the creator a lot longer to make it than it did for me to take it in, but that might well also be an argument that the creator wasted his time, too. Why is it wrong to argue that? If a creator sincerely believes in himself, my shrugging him off will harm him none. He will just go and make another film, one that might well convince me has in fact spent his time well.

3) Life's too short to have thin skin. Plus, if you're not making at least a few enemies, you're not doing anything worth taking note of in the first place. A philosophy I have long been hesitant to embrace, if only because it leads to its own variety of foolishness, but this is one of the few places where it seems fitting to swear by it.

(What's doubly ironic is that the piece discussed in the movie sounds like an excellent one, so the intro only leads to the rest of the article by the thinnest of connective tissue, and could easily have been dropped in a rewrite without losing a thing.)

I should add that it does help to talk about the things you do like, and to make a good case for them. But if something riles you up, sticks in your craw, churns your guts — by all means, go and dare disturb the universe a little. The universe may well thank you for it.


Tags: creativity creators criticism


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This page contains a single entry by Serdar Yegulalp in the category Uncategorized / General, published on 2015/05/23 10:00.

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