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More On My Criteria

After listening to a speaker for a half hour, have you ever said with disgust,"He didn't say anything"? Of course he said something; he was talking.It just didn't add up to anything. I once took a class on criticism ofbooks, plays, films, poems, etc. Any of these various works were good ifit added up to something.  Use the formula "the work is blank".Fill in the blank with anything from the work's plot, characterdevelopment, setting, form, theme, or whatever. The film, Exotica,is a jigsaw puzzle in which both the plot and the characters are revealedin bits and pieces that demand to be reinterpreted when more of the totalpicture is seen. Unlike my class in criticism, I often say a film doesblank, rather than a film is blank. My opinion ofExotica can be reworded as "The film, Exotica, withholdsthe overall view of both plot and character so that the reader has to garnerthe meaning from the pieces of the jigsaw puzzle and reevaluate his assumptionsas he sees more of the total picture". When I ask about a film, I am interestedin what it is or what it does. Whether or not you like it, is a good startingpoint that tells me something about you. I also want to know somethingabout the film.

I do not mean that a good film has a moral and is "better for you" thana lighter film that is more entertaining. Good films  entertain memore and usually do not have a moral. I see a film to view art, not listento a thinly disguised sermon.

Even after a film adds up to something, ask whether or not that somethingwas worth saying.  For a film to meet the test, I need enough confidencein the implied author to suspend my disbelief in the fantasy I am beingshown. Second, the film must surround me with plot and character and otherartistic devices that say more than could be said directly. WatchingFelicia's Journey, I had sympathetic feelings both for a serialkiller and for his potential victim. No attempt at describing my feelingscould compare to experiencing the ambivalence within the context film.Yet, Felicia's Journey was not cheap melodrama trying to squeezeextra emotion out of me for events and characters that meant nothing tome. Though the artistry of the film making, I was emotionally hooked bythe plot and attached to the characters. I look forward to watching itagain because I know I will re-experience a piece of art that is emotionallyintense and very satisfying.