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Filmspotting Message Boards => No Movie Talk Allowed => Idle Chatter => Topic started by: saltine on April 01, 2016, 06:58:08 PM

Title: On Writing
Post by: saltine on April 01, 2016, 06:58:08 PM
Please use this thread for any posts that reflect your views on writing and know that if you post your views on writing in other threads, those posts will be moved to this thread. 
Title: Re: On Writing
Post by: verbALs on April 01, 2016, 07:17:37 PM
What a good idea. I'd like to smash a bottle of champagne across the bow of this fine new vessel and perhaps someone could find a suitably mellifluous vowel to name it! I'd christen it by showing appreciation for all the people who continue to write here. I don't know if I'm alone in directly equating support for the forum with actually writing here. If it went quiet and stayed quiet there obviously wouldn't be a forum. Writing means contributing. People may leave and go away to write somewhere else and that is their right but there really is only one way to support a forum. Type suckers! ;D
Title: Re: On Writing
Post by: Paul Phoenix on April 01, 2016, 07:29:18 PM
Hear, hear, verbALs.

This is probably the only place so far where writing feels contributive and productive. Even though I would paste the same reviews on Letterboxd, there's a more fleeting feeling like a lost dog ad, probably because only my followers and the few lucky enough to pass by my reviews would get to read them at all. But here in the forums, it's present for every member to see.

It's why I like making my reviews more conversational. If you'll notice my past reviews during my short break from Filmspotting between August last year and February this year, you'll see that I didn't bother writing much because I wasn't writing for the forums. The reviews during that time period were short and indifferent. I could just type up two paragraphs of random thoughts and get over with it. I didn't have anyone to write for but myself.

That said, I'm still too lazy to bother with editing my writing. Most of my posts here are my instant thoughts as they flowed from my mind, not artificial prose conjured with the intention to impress. Well, I do still have the occasional prose and an intention to impress, at which time you would be able to tell easily (The Orphanage), but most often, I just prefer to write in a natural and sincere voice.

On another note, writing here has still not revitalized my interest in writing fiction. That kind of writing is a chore to work through, one that I would rather not delve back into right now.
Title: Re: On Writing
Post by: Junior on April 02, 2016, 10:49:48 PM
A case for bringing in outside sources for your argument:

Sometimes other people said it better. I'm acutely aware of when I'm just saying something I know somebody else has said, especially when I'm not doing as good a job as they do at explaining my position or point of view on a subject. I don't have a big enough ego to think that I'm the only person who can think in a certain way, so when I know, for example, that somebody else has explained the way that Spielberg has his fingerprints all over AI, I'm going to just point people in that direction so that they can say it for me. In my class I require that my students do it, actually, because it shows an ability to synthesize ideas in addition to thinking them up in the first place. You want to join a conversation, not start a new one.

Now, is just providing a link and moving on the best way to do this? No, and I acknowledge that. When Hermit pushed back at me in that AI example I found two paragraphs that supported my claim. Perhaps that's a better way of doing it. But still, to pretend that we are not influenced by outside sources is kind of nutty to me.
Title: Re: On Writing
Post by: Paul Phoenix on April 03, 2016, 12:00:07 AM
Not to sound egoistical, but I find that outside influences can be especially poisonous to one's viewpoints. Much of my view about the films one is meant to like is due to my insecurities being influenced and swayed by outside influences, by people who supposedly know better than me and telling me the kind of films that are the best of the best (The Godfather and Akira come to mind).

If anything, I've never sounded more sincere over the past few days specifically because I've flushed that poison outta me and focused more on my own raw feelings.
Title: Re: On Writing
Post by: smirnoff on April 03, 2016, 12:15:02 AM
Now, is just providing a link and moving on the best way to do this?

I'm okay with it if the person is willing to vouch for, stand by, justify, and defend every word written as if it were their own. But that's a rather unreasonable thing to expect. And if you make the mistake of assuming it is the case you will very often find that when you go to pin the person down on a particular point, they will slide out from under it. "oh, well I don't agree with that bit" or "hey, it's not my opinion" or "you'd have to ask them". That's what I mean about not being able to have a conversation with a piece of writing, and why I don't support the practice. And what if there's a follow-up question? Who am I speaking to now?

Forums, I find, are an inherently difficult place to make conversations work at the best of times. The uncertainty of eliciting a response to a question posed to nobody in particular fosters a tendency to just go ahead and answer the response you presume you would have gotten in the very same post. :)) I've done that loads of times. Questions posed to nobody in particular rarely come back your way, while questions directed at someone can often be regarded with suspicion, some trap to be avoided, and don't get answered at all (responded to sure, but not answered). Taking the conversation out of the ring and into the crowd, to me, is just another thing that trips up the discussion (or can).

Title: Re: On Writing
Post by: smirnoff on April 03, 2016, 12:36:10 AM
Sometimes other people said it better. I'm acutely aware of when I'm just saying something I know somebody else has said, especially when I'm not doing as good a job as they do at explaining my position or point of view on a subject. I don't have a big enough ego to think that I'm the only person who can think in a certain way, so when I know, for example, that somebody else has explained the way that Spielberg has his fingerprints all over AI, I'm going to just point people in that direction so that they can say it for me.

When faced with incredulity, particularly regarding something subjective like film, I find what fuels it is often the absence of the process. How did you get there? You can cite supporting, like-minded sources till you're blue in the face, but it will all look the same to the incredulous individual who obviously did not have that experience. It's not a matter of how eloquently you describe the experience you had, it's describing how you had that experience that counts. At least for those mystified by your reaction.

Remember math class and having the teacher telling you to "show your work!" :)) It's a bit like that. I know you have the answer, I want to know how you came by it. :)
Title: Re: On Writing
Post by: Paul Phoenix on April 03, 2016, 12:44:40 AM
Good thing I sucked at math. And school for that matter.
Title: Re: On Writing
Post by: tinyholidays on April 03, 2016, 12:50:14 AM
I like to read about a film particularly when I suspect I am not catching on to its cultural context. I feel uncomfortable espousing an ignorant opinion that could be better honed by doing some research. I'm suspicious of regarding my own purity of thought in reaction to a film as anything other than an ego trap. Film is made by people who make decisions with intent, created within a certain sociopolitical environment, and seen by individuals who filter the film through their own experiences. That's a lot of working elements to boil down to one person's reaction.

In a situation in which forum members are asking that other forum members defend or explain a film, where one member is saying that the defending members are not doing a good enough job in their expression, it made sense to me to bring in an outside source, one that had been informative to me. It was a piece of writing that I had originally read because of my own curiosity on the subject that was being discussed (that is, WHY does Jeanne Dielman exist, and why does it work). I am hearing now, though, that I was incorrect to think that an essay published with the definitive edition of the film would be considered more valuable and garner more respect than my own gut take.
Title: Re: On Writing
Post by: Paul Phoenix on April 03, 2016, 01:02:17 AM
Well, see, that's the thing now, some external research can be detrimental to the experience of a film. A film should be experienced on its own, and the emotions garnered from it should sometimes be the only thing that mattered. In some cases, this isn't true (ex_machina would have made a lot more sense much sooner to me had I had the slogan for the book), but some other times, I find myself wishing that I hadn't research about how it's a remake, how someone else had done it better in earlier days - or, in the case of Lord of the Rings, how it's a grossly inaccurate adaptation of the book.

See, now, these things do affect my genuine feelings, and it's fantastic if you're not a person easily influenced by stuff like that. Good for you. :P For myself, had I just focus on the way the film had made me feel when I was watching the film as opposed to knowing that it's done injustice to the source material, I would probably have less gripes about "Oh, how much better the story would have been" as opposed to how the story actually was on its own, without comparison.
Title: Re: On Writing
Post by: Paul Phoenix on April 03, 2016, 01:28:41 AM
I think the writing itself isn't that different from painting. There's just something off about a piece of writing that didn't come from your heart. Often, in a first draft, the advice is to let all your feelings pour out onto the page, as messily as possible. Only until later drafts do you edit and correct, not before. That way, one could insert an individuality into the conversation. Isn't that's what makes life interesting? To have different and unique individuality clash together in a conversation based on one's own perspective rather than others? I mean, isn't the common agreed notion that the individuality in us is an important ingredient in life rather than everyone agreeing on the same notion that nothing could triumph The Godfather?
Title: Re: On Writing
Post by: Junior on April 03, 2016, 01:52:21 AM
Not to sound egoistical, but I find that outside influences can be especially poisonous to one's viewpoints. Much of my view about the films one is meant to like is due to my insecurities being influenced and swayed by outside influences, by people who supposedly know better than me and telling me the kind of films that are the best of the best (The Godfather and Akira come to mind).

If anything, I've never sounded more sincere over the past few days specifically because I've flushed that poison outta me and focused more on my own raw feelings.

I'm not calling for you to bow down to outside sources. In fact, I'm only really arguing that we should feel empowered to pull in outside sources to support our own ideas and thoughts about a particular subject. I admit to being frustrated at seeing you change your mind when it comes to your own opinion on a film just because you read other people's thoughts on it. It felt like you were trying to assimilate yourself into the critical consensus rather than building your own point of view. In that way, I definitely agree that these more recent reviews have been better for foregrounding your opinions in them. That's the jam. I'm just saying that if I know somebody else has said something that I want to say (an opinion I have developed independently from them, or in conjunction, but never just taking theirs without carefully considering it) and has said it better than my writing will say it, I'm going to use that because it saves time and effort. With that in mind...

Now, is just providing a link and moving on the best way to do this?

I'm okay with it if the person is willing to vouch for, stand by, justify, and defend every word written as if it were their own. But that's a rather unreasonable thing to expect. And if you make the mistake of assuming it is the case you will very often find that when you go to pin the person down on a particular point, they will slide out from under it. "oh, well I don't agree with that bit" or "hey, it's not my opinion" or "you'd have to ask them". That's what I mean about not being able to have a conversation with a piece of writing, and why I don't support the practice. And what if there's a follow-up question? Who am I speaking to now?

Forums, I find, are an inherently difficult place to make conversations work at the best of times. The uncertainty of eliciting a response to a question posed to nobody in particular fosters a tendency to just go ahead and answer the response you presume you would have gotten in the very same post. :)) I've done that loads of times. Questions posed to nobody in particular rarely come back your way, while questions directed at someone can often be regarded with suspicion, some trap to be avoided, and don't get answered at all (responded to sure, but not answered). Taking the conversation out of the ring and into the crowd, to me, is just another thing that trips up the discussion (or can).

If I use an outside source here (specifying here as opposed to in a school paper or something), it's probably because I agree with it for the most part. As such, if you've got questions, I've got answers. I can back it up, give me that much credit. I'm not going to weasel my way out of something, I'm going to keep it going because these are still just supplemental.

Sure, taking bringing stuff from the outside can mess with the flow. But can it not also enhance it? Might we develop a deeper understanding of both of our positions through the use of outside sources? Is that such a hard thing to envision?

Sometimes other people said it better. I'm acutely aware of when I'm just saying something I know somebody else has said, especially when I'm not doing as good a job as they do at explaining my position or point of view on a subject. I don't have a big enough ego to think that I'm the only person who can think in a certain way, so when I know, for example, that somebody else has explained the way that Spielberg has his fingerprints all over AI, I'm going to just point people in that direction so that they can say it for me.

When faced with incredulity, particularly regarding something subjective like film, I find what fuels it is often the absence of the process. How did you get there? You can cite supporting, like-minded sources till you're blue in the face, but it will all look the same to the incredulous individual who obviously did not have that experience. It's not a matter of how eloquently you describe the experience you had, it's describing how you had that experience that counts. At least for those mystified by your reaction.

Remember math class and having the teacher telling you to "show your work!" :)) It's a bit like that. I know you have the answer, I want to know how you came by it. :)

I'm a little confused here. As much as I liked Hermit's interesting and drawn out process piece about Ex Machina, I don't really think that I do that in my reviews, nor am I entirely compelled to. If you want to ask me about how I reached a conclusion that I reach in a review, you can do that and I'll probably ignore you because I'm busy, but ideally I'd answer it and fill you in. How, then, is the outside source not doing a similar thing. It might take an extra step here or there, but you can always ask clarifying questions and I can always clarify. Bringing in the outside source doesn't cut me out of the conversation, it enhances my point if used correctly, and then I'll jump back in for myself.

Kenneth Burke has a really great way of putting this. He likens intellectual discussion to a cocktail party where you go up to a group and the following happens: "Imagine that you enter a parlor. You come late. When you arrive, others have long preceded you, and they are engaged in a heated discussion, a discussion too heated for them to pause and tell you exactly what it is about. In fact, the discussion had already begun long before any of them got there, so that no one present is qualified to retrace for you all the steps that had gone before. You listen for a while, until you decide that you have caught the tenor of the argument; then you put in your oar. Someone answers; you answer him; another comes to your defense; another aligns himself against you, to either the embarrassment or gratification of your opponent, depending upon the quality of your ally's assistance. However, the discussion is interminable. The hour grows late, you must depart. And you do depart, with the discussion still vigorously in progress." In this vision, it becomes clear that outside sources are just other people at the party whose opinions are equally valid and, most importantly, also a part of the conversation. You and I could talk back and forth at each other for a long time, I'm sure, but we would, sooner or later, reach a point where we've said all we have to say. The conversation ends. In the conversation with other people involved you can draw on what others have to say for support, or to argue against, or to agree with a difference. I'll repeat the key phrase here, "you put in your oar." Your oar is crucial. You steer, but in waters also touched by many other oars.

And yes, I recognize the irony of bringing in an outside source on this subject.

I think the writing itself isn't that different from painting. There's just something off about a piece of writing that didn't come from your heart. Often, in a first draft, the advice is to let all your feelings pour out onto the page, as messily as possible. Only until later drafts do you edit and correct, not before. That way, one could insert an individuality into the conversation. Isn't that's what makes life interesting? To have different and unique individuality clash together in a conversation based on one's own perspective rather than others? I mean, isn't the common agreed notion that the individuality in us is an important ingredient in life rather than everyone agreeing on the same notion that nothing could triumph The Godfather?

Please do not think that I'm advocating any of this kind of stuff. I'm super for individuality, I don't want to hear you parroting anybody else, but I also don't want you to just think in a vacuum. Firstly, it's disingenuous. Of course you're influenced by outside forces. That's a condition of living in a society. Welcome to it. Every review of The Godfather will reference its legacy or place in the culture in one way or another. Secondly, I only grow half as much if I only listen to myself think. I just read this super spectacular essay about the way that language forces us to categorize everything into groups so that we can function as a society and have the same name for stuff. The article then went on to discuss how the thing in The Thing broke down those barriers (outside and inside, human and not human) through its mercurial nature. It changes form, it oozes and melts and replicates and mutates and that causes a breakdown of the little society they had there in wherever they were. I admit that some of this stuff had been rattling around in my head, but it wasn't until I read this article that I could see exactly how and why it all worked. Might I have worked that out on my own? Yes, in time. But now that I have it, I can (and did) use it to talk about I Am Legend (the book, not the movies) and the way that the model set up in The Thing might work or not work in I Am Legend. Without that article, my understanding of The Thing and I Am Legend would be more shallow than they currently are. Why keep that from you? Why keep it from myself?
Title: Re: On Writing
Post by: DarkeningHumour on April 03, 2016, 02:03:14 AM
Now, is just providing a link and moving on the best way to do this?

I'm okay with it if the person is willing to vouch for, stand by, justify, and defend every word written as if it were their own. But that's a rather unreasonable thing to expect. And if you make the mistake of assuming it is the case you will very often find that when you go to pin the person down on a particular point, they will slide out from under it. "oh, well I don't agree with that bit" or "hey, it's not my opinion" or "you'd have to ask them". That's what I mean about not being able to have a conversation with a piece of writing, and why I don't support the practice. And what if there's a follow-up question? Who am I speaking to now?

Forums, I find, are an inherently difficult place to make conversations work at the best of times. The uncertainty of eliciting a response to a question posed to nobody in particular fosters a tendency to just go ahead and answer the response you presume you would have gotten in the very same post. :)) I've done that loads of times. Questions posed to nobody in particular rarely come back your way, while questions directed at someone can often be regarded with suspicion, some trap to be avoided, and don't get answered at all (responded to sure, but not answered). Taking the conversation out of the ring and into the crowd, to me, is just another thing that trips up the discussion (or can).

I agree with almost everything here but not to the point where I would discourage quoting other people. I am sure there are ways to do it that avoid the dangers and fallacies you point out, like quoting only specific passages for example. Sometimes, other writers put things in a way that is inherently superior to what you are able to come up with and refraining from using that material to support your argument ends up impoverishing it.

Sometimes other people said it better. I'm acutely aware of when I'm just saying something I know somebody else has said, especially when I'm not doing as good a job as they do at explaining my position or point of view on a subject. I don't have a big enough ego to think that I'm the only person who can think in a certain way, so when I know, for example, that somebody else has explained the way that Spielberg has his fingerprints all over AI, I'm going to just point people in that direction so that they can say it for me.

When faced with incredulity, particularly regarding something subjective like film, I find what fuels it is often the absence of the process. How did you get there? You can cite supporting, like-minded sources till you're blue in the face, but it will all look the same to the incredulous individual who obviously did not have that experience. It's not a matter of how eloquently you describe the experience you had, it's describing how you had that experience that counts. At least for those mystified by your reaction.

Remember math class and having the teacher telling you to "show your work!" :)) It's a bit like that. I know you have the answer, I want to know how you came by it. :)

But what happens when the process is an emotional reaction ? How do you explain « I love this movie » ? You can analyse it, its technique, themes, dialogue, etc. ; but in my experience that is not what your ultimate attachement to the film boils down to. I am able to recognize that I probably would not like The Godfather if I had not watched it when and how I did the first time. However, I would be much harder for me to articulate what works in La Dolce Vita for me, and both are in my Top 10.
Title: Re: On Writing
Post by: DarkeningHumour on April 03, 2016, 02:09:45 AM
Sure, taking bringing stuff from the outside can mess with the flow. But can it not also enhance it? Might we develop a deeper understanding of both of our positions through the use of outside sources? Is that such a hard thing to envision?

Second this. And as a side-note, every time we quote another member of the forum or use the « second » or « This ! » memes we are basically doing what smirnoff is objecting to, with the difference that these are not outside sources. It's an important difference because if I refer to a post of chardy's that I relate to, I can actually, or anyone can, talk to him later and he can participate in the discussion. But ultimately, I think the principle is the same and the practice is widely used - or maybe that's just my impression.
Title: Re: On Writing
Post by: DarkeningHumour on April 03, 2016, 02:13:34 AM
I just read this super spectacular essay about the way that language forces us to categorize everything into groups so that we can function as a society and have the same name for stuff. The article then went on to discuss how the thing in The Thing broke down those barriers (outside and inside, human and not human) through its mercurial nature. It changes form, it oozes and melts and replicates and mutates and that causes a breakdown of the little society they had there in wherever they were.

The essay sounds great.
Title: Re: On Writing
Post by: Junior on April 03, 2016, 02:25:49 AM
You should be able to read all of it here: https://books.google.com/books?id=S6jKVfuQG3wC&pg=PA118&lpg=PA118#v=onepage&q&f=false
Title: Re: On Writing
Post by: DarkeningHumour on April 03, 2016, 02:31:23 AM
Is it readable if I have not watched the movie ?
Title: Re: On Writing
Post by: Junior on April 03, 2016, 02:34:15 AM
It basically spoils it, but you can stop before it gets there. I'd stop at the first full paragraph on 127. But also, see The Thing! It's great!

Oh, also, don't get daunted by the beginning of the essay. It's basically saying that the dominant (then) way of looking at horror films through a psychoanalytic framework doesn't work ask the time especially when a movie is less about an individual than it is about a group.
Title: Re: On Writing
Post by: DarkeningHumour on April 03, 2016, 02:58:59 AM
Body horror is not my thing...
Title: Re: On Writing
Post by: verbALs on April 03, 2016, 03:27:41 AM
I think the writing itself isn't that different from painting. There's just something off about a piece of writing that didn't come from your heart.

My favourite thought argument about art comes from a tv piece I saw about an exhibition at the Tate in St Ives once. The artist stood by his painting and offered explanations to the viewer. I was delighted last night to have this discussion with my partner and daughter (the architect, so her viewpoint on art is very interesting). My understanding of art is that it communicates emotion. A painting is a unique communication tool. What the artist might tell you should have been included in the painting surely? He is admitting a failing in his own work that he has to come back later and explain it. He also patronises his viewer by assuming they can't work it it for themselves. They need to be told.

Essentially all that matters is your own understanding. Not of how you bring your kids up, or work well with colleagues or protect your friends in bad moments. But how you individually parse art. Stare at the painting for hours if it's any good. Draw meaning from it. Just you and your understanding. That open ended process. Not turning to someone else for an explanation. You. You are a unique snowflake. You really are. But you need to challenge yourself that way. Next time you see a film; sitting in the dark with no one to check your understanding and nobody whispering in your ear to tell you what just happened. Then you'll start to be equipped to understand what you are watching. You are using your tools, your ability to process, to listen and watch. You accept that lonely challenge and you must be better at it. You can go back int society when you leave the cinema. Like the song says "in this life your on your own". Well no you aren't. You have family and friends and work and play and you do it socially. A whole nother ballgame.

In this cinema though, you are on your own. Yes there are rhetorical ways of circumventing that argument. Congratulations. There's always another perspective. But then there's the truth. Your truth. If you have read a piece that has influenced your truth that's natural. Just like any film can change your life and your truth. So inculcate that influence from book or film or academic paper and tell it as part of your truth. Again that's the challenge. Verbatim readings or cut pasting whole articles? Like noff said you didn't mean the whole article you meant some piece explained your point in any argument. You surely didn't meant he whole thing. It's like dropping New York on an ant. Discussion is surgical not nuclear. And it isn't your truth and it reads as not your truth. The enthusiasm gets drained out of it. The emotion and the fire. The communication. Like I said art is communication of emotion. Your post can be a piece of art as long as the emotion...your emotion... Is there. Or you can get mr professor to come in and say what you really meant that you couldn't say yourself. And isn't he impressive.

These things are deep within people's mindset. Part of their paradigm. Who they are.  It's not surprising one can't get agreement about important subjects. The disagreement merely indicates the individuality at work.

Now others may start from a different paradigm. That art is communication of emotion. It's something else. An intellectual expression? We are creatures of pure thought perhaps? Are we? We can write that way but are we? Before Sean left this place he was at a point of saying he had no interest in reading how films made the writer feel. I personally responded very poorly to that PoV. It seemed superior. I can see now that as you move forward with writing that talking about good film/bad film seems reductive. "I liked this film, it had good explosions. 7/10". Respect says let whoever wants to write whatever do so. After 6, 7, ,8 years let's talk about progress. Can we progress as writers. Should we expect progress?  You should get better at it. Your knowledge expands and that learning process should feed back into what you write. I'm not talking about new guys I'm talking about people 7 years into this. I can see Sean's frustration now but respect for what people want to do must come first...and I've been terrible on that front myself; enjoying arguements too much. Mea culpa. Aunty Sandy sat me down and gave me a good talking to on the subject of respect.

I'd like to hear in this thread how people feel about progress in writing. About what fundamentally governs what they write about and how.

@tiny. I kept saying it was my personal position and my fault to feel that way. I think I've explained it more fully because this is a better thread to do that. But I understand how my response could be interpreted by you. You used the phrase ego trip. Yes it is an ego trip as individuality must be. The ego trip included reading critics and academics for context. If you look at my reaction to the artist standing next to the painting my family didn't agree. It's a singular view. It's a personal challenge not resorting to contextual pieces outside the work of art. I'm an engineer graduate not a humanities graduate I didn't spend 3 years in the process of reading opinions on art. My respect for it is lower than others. But if I can look at the world and work it out I'd rather do that than have someone explain what I'm seeing. Working without a safety net commits one to the process somewhat.
Title: Re: On Writing
Post by: Paul Phoenix on April 03, 2016, 04:59:26 AM
On a separate note, I'm done with Teproc's list for the next day or two. For real this time. I didn't expect that I would have to think much with Hitchcock concerned, but phew. ;D Planet of the Apes is next, so there's bound to be plenty to talk about too.

I'm just gonna go relax for a while complaining about the cliche writing of OUAT and Grimm; at least I know what to expect there. Don't get me wrong, I love such insightful discussions about films, but watching films made by such great artists can leave you drained, not to mention being reminded of the intimidating notion that I'm going to have to slave myself on another long passage review for several hours yet again.

There's a comfort in knowing that what you're going to watch next is mediocre or just plain bad, and that you'll get the opportunity not to work that hard in stating what is obvious: that it's bad. It reminds me of a conversation I had with a teacher of mine. She would comment that after working hard for the day, she just wants to go home, settle down with some cheap entertainment, and not think so hard about a film. This was during the period when I still believed that "deep = good" and forced that notion on her, so.

The reason I decided to post this here instead of Random Movie Thoughts or the Top 100 Club is because I have a question for you guys, about writing. It might just be my laziness talking, but does anyone ever get that discomfort if you write several in-depth reviews in a row, and you just feel like writing something that's not so... "analytical"? I know some people love to write such analysis as a living, but for me, I need my junk food of vodka and chips between philosophical discussions every now and then. Feel free to share your take on this.
Title: Re: On Writing
Post by: Junior on April 03, 2016, 11:03:13 AM
It takes a special kind of skill to respond to a long and thought out post without actually responding to it. I applaud your work there, verbALs. But you demonstrate in doing so the problem with ignoring outside sources. You pretend that it is a conversation between you and Hermit, that you and he talk in a vacuum with no other voices to influence you. But you're responding to most of the points that I made, misinterpreting them and twisting them to your own ends. There's a thing I teach my students called The Believing Game and it forces you to believe what the author says when you paraphrase or summarize them, no matter if you agree or disagree with their ideas. After I state several times that I cherish the individual's reaction to a movie above all else, you proceed as if I do not. And perhaps maybe this isn't what you're doing. Perhaps I'm not believing you enough. But there's something disrespectful about pretending that a third party just isn't there in a conversation. From the looks of your post you wouldn't know that I had given an equally long and developed argument about the very same subject. If we take the conversation at a cocktail party as our model, you're blocking me out. That's not fair.

So I'll respond to you directly out of respect for your place in the conversation.

I think the writing itself isn't that different from painting. There's just something off about a piece of writing that didn't come from your heart.

My favourite thought argument about art comes from a tv piece I saw about an exhibition at the Tate in St Ives once. The artist stood by his painting and offered explanations to the viewer. I was delighted last night to have this discussion with my partner and daughter (the architect, so her viewpoint on art is very interesting). My understanding of art is that it communicates emotion. A painting is a unique communication tool. What the artist might tell you should have been included in the painting surely? He is admitting a failing in his own work that he has to come back later and explain it. He also patronises his viewer by assuming they can't work it it for themselves. They need to be told.

Could the artist tell you about more than just the meaning of it. Later in this post you praise process. I love process. Might the artist's process have some influence on your understanding of the painting. Imagine a portrait of a sad older lady. She makes you feel sad when you look at her, so the artist has communicated and you have listened. But then the artist tells you that she is his imagined portrait of her mother who died when the artist was only 10. The artist's ability and process of transforming her vision of her mother from a youthful adult to a grandmotherly one enriches your understanding of the work, and your feeling both intellectually and emotionally deepens. Why is that bad? I'm asking you. You can always feel free to ignore what an artist says, certainly, and make up your own mind. Wouldn't you like to know their thoughts, though?

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Essentially all that matters is your own understanding. Not of how you bring your kids up, or work well with colleagues or protect your friends in bad moments. But how you individually parse art. Stare at the painting for hours if it's any good. Draw meaning from it. Just you and your understanding. That open ended process. Not turning to someone else for an explanation. You. You are a unique snowflake. You really are. But you need to challenge yourself that way. Next time you see a film; sitting in the dark with no one to check your understanding and nobody whispering in your ear to tell you what just happened. Then you'll start to be equipped to understand what you are watching. You are using your tools, your ability to process, to listen and watch. You accept that lonely challenge and you must be better at it. You can go back int society when you leave the cinema. Like the song says "in this life your on your own". Well no you aren't. You have family and friends and work and play and you do it socially. A whole nother ballgame.

In this cinema though, you are on your own. Yes there are rhetorical ways of circumventing that argument. Congratulations. There's always another perspective. But then there's the truth. Your truth. If you have read a piece that has influenced your truth that's natural. Just like any film can change your life and your truth. So inculcate that influence from book or film or academic paper and tell it as part of your truth. Again that's the challenge. Verbatim readings or cut pasting whole articles? Like noff said you didn't mean the whole article you meant some piece explained your point in any argument. You surely didn't meant he whole thing. It's like dropping New York on an ant. Discussion is surgical not nuclear. And it isn't your truth and it reads as not your truth. The enthusiasm gets drained out of it. The emotion and the fire. The communication. Like I said art is communication of emotion. Your post can be a piece of art as long as the emotion...your emotion... Is there. Or you can get mr professor to come in and say what you really meant that you couldn't say yourself. And isn't he impressive.

I mean, if you're going to deny that we're socially influenced creatures I guess we can just stop right here. It's not a "rhetorical way of circumventing" any argument, it's a fact of life. You are a unique snowflake, but not because of some divine gift or anything. You're unique because all the little and big things that happened to you as you lived in a society (family, school, art, work, friends, pets, history) happened to you in a unique way. So yes, sit alone in a theater, but know that you're only in that theater in the first place because your past led you there. Form your own reaction (I again value this above all else, please stop pretending that I don't).

I think I modeled a way to bring in outside sources without destroying the conversation. I agree that a link bomb isn't helpful for the most part. You'll see in my response that I already assented to that. I don't much appreciate the across-the-board distaste for professorial interactions. I want to believe that you're just not communicating as effectively as you could be, but several times you dismiss intellectual understandings of films as lesser than your own emotional perspective. Can we perhaps agree that they're equal, a matter of taste rather than objective superiority for one or the other? I want to read about both your emotional journey and what it made you think about, they need not separate from each other. 

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These things are deep within people's mindset. Part of their paradigm. Who they are.  It's not surprising one can't get agreement about important subjects. The disagreement merely indicates the individuality at work.

Now others may start from a different paradigm. That art is communication of emotion. It's something else. An intellectual expression? We are creatures of pure thought perhaps? Are we? We can write that way but are we? Before Sean left this place he was at a point of saying he had no interest in reading how films made the writer feel. I personally responded very poorly to that PoV. It seemed superior. I can see now that as you move forward with writing that talking about good film/bad film seems reductive. "I liked this film, it had good explosions. 7/10". Respect says let whoever wants to write whatever do so. After 6, 7, ,8 years let's talk about progress. Can we progress as writers. Should we expect progress?  You should get better at it. Your knowledge expands and that learning process should feed back into what you write. I'm not talking about new guys I'm talking about people 7 years into this. I can see Sean's frustration now but respect for what people want to do must come first...and I've been terrible on that front myself; enjoying arguements too much. Mea culpa. Aunty Sandy sat me down and gave me a good talking to on the subject of respect.

I'd like to hear in this thread how people feel about progress in writing. About what fundamentally governs what they write about and how.

I know that I've become a better writer in my time here. You all have helped me grow the way that I think about movies (and art and life). I have written less here in the past year because I've been writing so much more in my job as a student and teacher. The writing here becomes necessarily less good. Certainly I think Hermit is cranking out better reviews than I am when I get around to posting them. I'd let you all look at my school writing to prove that I still got it, but I think you don't really care too much about that. That's fine.

I can remember an old argument I had here, probably the first of its kind for me, that really challenged the way that I thought about movies and wrote about them. I had just seen 300 in a theater and, being a teenager at the time, loved it. My thoughts about it were no deeper than hey, that looked cool. It did look cool and it still does. But Sean pointed out that its politics were pretty messed up. They are. Reactionary, xenophobic, homophobic. Not pretty stuff. I fought him on it so hard. None of that matters if it looks cool! If I got enjoyment out of it! If it got my blood pumping! But of course it does. If our art tells us to think of people outside our culture as literal monsters, perhaps we take that in, perhaps it melts and reforms our snowflakes a little bit. Perhaps I become more eager to get people who don't look like me out of my country. This shit matters, and my emotional response was part of that, but so was the article that Sean linked to which explained how Miller wrote 300 in response to turmoil in the middle east both from the Gulf War for the book and 9/11 for the movie. It becomes easy to see the connections there, but I didn't know until I went to an outside source. So yes, I can, have, and will continue to grow as a writer. You put the hours in, you keep an open mind, and you just might learn something


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@tiny. I kept saying it was my personal position and my fault to feel that way. I think I've explained it more fully because this is a better thread to do that. But I understand how my response could be interpreted by you. You used the phrase ego trip. Yes it is an ego trip as individuality must be. The ego trip included reading critics and academics for context. If you look at my reaction to the artist standing next to the painting my family didn't agree. It's a singular view. It's a personal challenge not resorting to contextual pieces outside the work of art. I'm an engineer graduate not a humanities graduate I didn't spend 3 years in the process of reading opinions on art. My respect for it is lower than others. But if I can look at the world and work it out I'd rather do that than have someone explain what I'm seeing. Working without a safety net commits one to the process somewhat.

I am currently engaged in the process of getting my Master's degree in English. I am spending time reading things and then reading secondary articles about them. There's no overstating how useful it is to help you understand your own thoughts. I don't just take their opinions as my own, I read them, engage with them, and then form my own understanding with the help of them. Sometimes I'm just entirely against anything a critic has said and I strengthen my own opinion by opposing his. If you're not going to listen to other people's ideas about art and writing and whatever else, what are you even doing here?

I didn't spend 3 years of my life doing engineering work, but I still respect it. I can see that working it out for yourself must have some draw. It would have to. But didn't you spend a lot of time learning about the ways that things work and the ways that they don't work? I don't know if I can buy that you came to all that knowledge from mere observance. There must have been some instruction. Sure, you might not need to keep learning things, but that's only because you've built up a strong enough toolbox for understanding the way things are made, right? Some of that toolbox must have been borrowed from outside sources. If you respect it in engineering, why not respect it in the humanities?
Title: Re: On Writing
Post by: verbALs on April 03, 2016, 11:46:40 AM
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From the looks of your post you wouldn't know that I had given an equally long and developed argument about the very same subject.

No I honestly wouldn't know what you had written because I honestly didn't read it. Like I said I want to be respectful but I'm not obliged to read everything that is written. Nor are you or anyone else.

I read what Hermit was saying about painting and it launched me into remembering last night and that conversation I had with my family. If that is synchronous with what you were saying, that's cool.

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The artist's ability and process of transforming her vision of her mother from a youthful adult to a grandmotherly one enriches your understanding of the work, and your feeling both intellectually and emotionally deepens. Why is that bad? I'm asking you. You can always feel free to ignore what an artist says, certainly, and make up your own mind.

I'm sure I could come up with 100 equally plausible examples, yes. This example is about an artist standing next to his painting and explaining what you can't see in it. So the point is that art is a communication of feeling, that piece of art. Now your examination which is your individual assessment of the art, which informs your understanding and, hopefully, reveals depth, because you are a thinking feeling intelligent person; is to be interrupted because the artist needs you to know something else. So it stops your own process, stops you thinking and starts telling you things. Again a personal view point....because I am saying what I prefer, and everyone else, hopefully is coming to their own understanding of their process of understanding art, and that is what I would like to hear here. My answer to this piece of rhetoric is...leave me to find my own understanding because that is what I want. My preference. A clear process but nobody else's. Not the right answer because there isn't a right answer, but an answer that has formed since 2010 and all of the writing that I have done. I mean it has to add up to progress. One shouldn't go backward from lessons already learnt surely. What have people learnt?

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if you're going to deny that we're socially influenced creatures
I talked about us being socially influenced creatures. Not in a dark cinema or reading a book though. We aren't social there. We are on our own. Now are we waiting to be told what the film meant. Are we aching to leave the cinema and find out what our favourite critic thought or the director. Or are we there with our own tools trying to maximise our absorption of the film?

A cinema full of people engaging in a conversation with their friends about what the film meant. Thats about as annoying a scenario as is possible to imagine. For me anyway.




But lets return the conversation to its source. Links to outside pieces of art, like me linking to Station to Station? We weren't talking about that. It came from an entire piece being offered up to answer a question about a piece of art. Tiny offered a piece of writing to explain a film. I humbly apologised for not liking the approach. Tiny stood by the painting and didn't even offer her opinion. She offered someone else's. As a whole. And like I said to Martin, I know his writing. Ive been reading it for years, so when Martin explains something, I can compare it to years of his writing and form an understanding of how that film would go down with me. Not whoever Tiny linked to, even though the person might be the greatest mind on the subject. They aint writing on this forum, so I lack interest in what they say. But its a personal way of going. What's yours?

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If you're not going to listen to other people's ideas about art and writing and whatever else, what are you even doing here?
I'm listening. My caveat is I'm obviously not going to reply to everything. So I'm not obliged to answer.

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If you respect it in engineering, why not respect it in the humanities?
Because when it comes to the nut-cuttin' I'm watching a film on my own and I will maximise my appreciation of the film with the challenge that its just me there with the film so I better pay attention. Thats not a process that comes naturally and that takes a little understanding of how I process and parse art, which I gained as part of this learning process. Forget the dark cinema for a second. I personally don't have a large group around all eager to discuss films in depth. I started writing here because my missus was getting tired of my long conversations about film. She wasn't that interested and doesn't look at things in that way. I might be alone there. Maybe everyone else has lots of friends who they can go to to process a film. For me its a private personal process and I wouldn't have it any other way. My son loves films and we do get a little deeper into it, but Im not looking for him to tell me what a film meant 3 weeks later. I like hearing his extremely individual take on a movie. Whereas he just tuts at me..."cos I'm wrong". Awwww.


I'm absolutely sure nobody else has this bizarre, insane way of doing it. I hope nobody is desperately waiting for films to end so they can rush out and get told what the film meant. Im sure people have their own process. Do they open their phones mid film to read reviews that might explain a film? I don't know. I'm being facetious. Lets say everyone has their process and this would be a great place to hear stories like my one about the artist standing next to his painting and explaining it. That example says a lot about my idea of art. I would bloody love to hear other people's process. But I'm not going to promise I'm going to respond to them. Blimey!
Title: Re: On Writing
Post by: Junior on April 03, 2016, 12:37:23 PM
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The artist's ability and process of transforming her vision of her mother from a youthful adult to a grandmotherly one enriches your understanding of the work, and your feeling both intellectually and emotionally deepens. Why is that bad? I'm asking you. You can always feel free to ignore what an artist says, certainly, and make up your own mind.

I'm sure I could come up with 100 equally plausible examples, yes. This example is about an artist standing next to his painting and explaining what you can't see in it. So the point is that art is a communication of feeling, that piece of art. Now your examination which is your individual assessment of the art, which informs your understanding and, hopefully, reveals depth, because you are a thinking feeling intelligent person; is to be interrupted because the artist needs you to know something else. So it stops your own process, stops you thinking and starts telling you things. Again a personal view point....because I am saying what I prefer, and everyone else, hopefully is coming to their own understanding of their process of understanding art, and that is what I would like to hear here. My answer to this piece of rhetoric is...leave me to find my own understanding because that is what I want. My preference. A clear process but nobody else's. Not the right answer because there isn't a right answer.

Ideally you would form an opinion, hear an artist or critic's reasoning, then either reform your opinion or keep it as it was. Yes, an artist yammering on while you try to form that opinion might interrupt your own thought process, but in my vision it would be a later supplement. My process isn't stopped by hearing somebody else's ideas, it is enhanced by them.


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if you're going to deny that we're socially influenced creatures
I talked about us being socially influenced creatures. Not in a dark cinema or reading a book though. We aren't social there. We are on our own. Now are we waiting to be told what the film meant. Are we aching to leave the cinema and find out what our favourite critic thought or the director. Or are we there with our own tools trying to maximise our absorption of the film?

A cinema full of people engaging in a conversation with their friends about what the film meant. Thats about as annoying a scenario as is possible to imagine. For me anyway.

I must have screwed up somewhere. None of this matches what I said or tried to say. Fundamentally, we are made up of our past selves, yes? Each new experience changes us a little and a new self is made. Those experiences are almost all social, including experiencing a work of art. So though you may be communing with a particular movie by yourself, you are experiencing it through a lens of your past experiences. I brought up the idea that we are made out of our interactions with each other to posit that one more interaction wouldn't be a perversion of the ultimate experience but rather a continuation of your social development, by which I mean your personal development.



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But lets return the conversation to its source. Links to outside pieces of art, like me linking to Station to Station? We weren't talking about that. It came from an entire piece being offered up to answer a question about a piece of art. Tiny offered a piece of writing to explain a film. I humbly apologised for not liking the approach. Tiny stood by the painting and didn't even offer her opinion. She offered someone else's. As a whole. And like I said to Martin, I know his writing. Ive been reading it for years, so when Martin explains something, I can compare it to years of his writing and form an understanding of how that film would go down with me. Not whoever Tiny linked to, even though the person might be the greatest mind on the subject. They aint writing on this forum, so I lack interest in what they say. But its a personal way of going. What's yours?

I think you know mine by now. I've demonstrated several ways to bring outside sources into a conversation. One was a quote, one was a paraphrase, and one was a personal recollection. Did those kill the conversation? You didn't engage with them, so maybe you didn't value them. Did others? You have a tendency to be dogmatic about your beliefs, so I don't really expect this to mean much. It helps me figure out what I think, though, so there's some value here.

Although we got to know Martin through his time here, much of what he wrote happened before he joined the forum, I think. Those reviews are outside sources, you just happened to get to know the source at some point. Does it take you some time to get to know somebody before you'll actually listen to what they're saying? Is that it?

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If you're not going to listen to other people's ideas about art and writing and whatever else, what are you even doing here?
I'm listening. My caveat is I'm obviously not going to reply to everything. So I'm not obliged to answer.

No, you aren't. But you can see the value of engaging in a conversation rather than pretending that some portion of it doesn't exist, right? When I pull your quotes in it makes it much more difficult for me to misrepresent something you said. All I ask is that you repay the respect I give you as a fully functioning member of this community. Play the believing game with me and I'll play it with you.
Title: Re: On Writing
Post by: verbALs on April 03, 2016, 12:41:29 PM
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Ideally you would form an opinion, hear an artist or critic's reasoning, then either reform your opinion or keep it as it was. Yes, an artist yammering on while you try to form that opinion might interrupt your own thought process, but in my vision it would be a later supplement. My process isn't stopped by hearing somebody else's ideas, it is enhanced by them.

Thats a workable process. I can see that. Are you happy with it? Have you got a good example of doing that. I know you've probably got 100s but one you could share here?

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Each new experience changes us a little and a new self is made.

Really? Every time a new experience happens you change with it? I think you resist new experiences just as much as anyone else. There must be a process of resistance, and I'm fairly sure Ive seen it in your responses to me over number of years, Junior. I certainly don't feel you changing every time I offer an opinion. ;D

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I brought up the idea that we are made out of our interactions with each other to posit that one more interaction wouldn't be a perversion of the ultimate experience but rather a continuation of your social development, by which I mean your personal development.

Sorry. I don't know what this has to do with the conversation about outside influences and being surgical in using them rather than nuclear and dropping a whole article into a discussion? I stated that socially we don't stand alone. I've got kids so how would I state otherwise?
Title: Re: On Writing
Post by: smirnoff on April 03, 2016, 09:12:10 PM
I like to read about a film particularly when I suspect I am not catching on to its cultural context. I feel uncomfortable espousing an ignorant opinion that could be better honed by doing some research. I'm suspicious of regarding my own purity of thought in reaction to a film as anything other than an ego trap. Film is made by people who make decisions with intent, created within a certain sociopolitical environment, and seen by individuals who filter the film through their own experiences. That's a lot of working elements to boil down to one person's reaction.

In a situation in which forum members are asking that other forum members defend or explain a film, where one member is saying that the defending members are not doing a good enough job in their expression, it made sense to me to bring in an outside source, one that had been informative to me. It was a piece of writing that I had originally read because of my own curiosity on the subject that was being discussed (that is, WHY does Jeanne Dielman exist, and why does it work). I am hearing now, though, that I was incorrect to think that an essay published with the definitive edition of the film would be considered more valuable and garner more respect than my own gut take.

Fwiw Tiny, having subsequently gone back and read the essay, I find what you said contains far more of the sort of thing I care about. To one who disliked the experience the essay comes off as presumptive, preaching more to the choir than the critic. "We" this and "we" that... it's like "umm, speak for yourself, I don't agree with these interpretations".

Quote from: Criterion essay
Despite their apparent simplicity, Akerman’s assured framing and narrative, built out of blocks of real time intercut by radical ellipses, are not easily replicated. Rather, the film’s impact is indirectly evident in the emergence of a new phenomenological sensibility and approach to observation and the weight of time in the work of contemporary filmmakers as diverse as Abbas Kiarostami, Gus van Sant, Pedro Costa, Apichatpong Weerasethakul, Todd Haynes, Jia Zhangke, and Tsai Ming-liang.

I feel this paragraph, for instance, is nonsense. "The film's impact is indirectly evident"? Indirectly evident... as in what? As in none of these directors actually watched JD, but somehow it influenced them anyways and is responsible for a starting a trend? More like, here's a handful of people who discovered a not too hard to discover technique independently of one another, and embraced it. Akerman made a whole movie using it, and surely others before her employed it in a more moderate fashion. She attributes far to much influence to this film, without any evidence... just something in the air as far as I can tell.

You're own explanation embraces the subjective nature of your reaction, as evidenced by you starting each point by saying "I". Now you have my attention. "We" is hardly as inclusive as it sounds.
Title: Re: On Writing
Post by: Junior on April 03, 2016, 09:46:03 PM
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Ideally you would form an opinion, hear an artist or critic's reasoning, then either reform your opinion or keep it as it was. Yes, an artist yammering on while you try to form that opinion might interrupt your own thought process, but in my vision it would be a later supplement. My process isn't stopped by hearing somebody else's ideas, it is enhanced by them.

Thats a workable process. I can see that. Are you happy with it? Have you got a good example of doing that. I know you've probably got 100s but one you could share here?

Well, that article on The Thing probably counts. I loved the thing enough to put it in my top 100 list as soon as I saw it. This article deepened my appreciation of how the film worked. The director commentaries on something like Pan's Labyrinth or The Red Shoes have helped me understand a movie more/better, as well. I like to think I'm an observant watcher but I know I've learned about things that the director has done that I've missed. Maybe my subconscious picked it up, and maybe it contributed to my general impression of the film, but hearing the director say it makes me cognizant of it where I might not have been.

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Each new experience changes us a little and a new self is made.

Really? Every time a new experience happens you change with it? I think you resist new experiences just as much as anyone else. There must be a process of resistance, and I'm fairly sure Ive seen it in your responses to me over number of years, Junior. I certainly don't feel you changing every time I offer an opinion. ;D

I didn't say what kind of change, did I?  8) I really do believe this to be true. It is the way I understand the world to work. I might assent to your opinion, I might assimilate it into my own thoughts, or I might rebel against it, form an anti-opinion and that'll be a change, too. Or it might not have that kind of direct effect at all, but being exposed to different viewpoints will necessarily change the way you see the world, so yes, I change each and every time I see your opinions or any others. Nothing earth-shattering, of course, but it adds up.

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I brought up the idea that we are made out of our interactions with each other to posit that one more interaction wouldn't be a perversion of the ultimate experience but rather a continuation of your social development, by which I mean your personal development.

Sorry. I don't know what this has to do with the conversation about outside influences and being surgical in using them rather than nuclear and dropping a whole article into a discussion? I stated that socially we don't stand alone. I've got kids so how would I state otherwise?

This is not in defense of the link bomb. None of what I wrote was in defense of the link bomb. You seemed to be arguing that you should pay no attention to anything outside of your own brain when it comes to forming an opinion or changing one. I offered a reason why I believed this to be a wrong way of seeing the situation (basically that you can't possibly be alone, even when you're alone) and thought that if I could show you the way I saw it you might understand why I don't see outside sources as a bad thing. Because they aren't more or less outside than any other thing that changes the way you think.

I understand if you won't respond to any of this. I hope others will weigh in. This is a cocktail party, after all, everybody's welcome.


I like to read about a film particularly when I suspect I am not catching on to its cultural context. I feel uncomfortable espousing an ignorant opinion that could be better honed by doing some research. I'm suspicious of regarding my own purity of thought in reaction to a film as anything other than an ego trap. Film is made by people who make decisions with intent, created within a certain sociopolitical environment, and seen by individuals who filter the film through their own experiences. That's a lot of working elements to boil down to one person's reaction.

In a situation in which forum members are asking that other forum members defend or explain a film, where one member is saying that the defending members are not doing a good enough job in their expression, it made sense to me to bring in an outside source, one that had been informative to me. It was a piece of writing that I had originally read because of my own curiosity on the subject that was being discussed (that is, WHY does Jeanne Dielman exist, and why does it work). I am hearing now, though, that I was incorrect to think that an essay published with the definitive edition of the film would be considered more valuable and garner more respect than my own gut take.

Fwiw Tiny, having subsequently gone back and read the essay, I find what you said contains far more of the sort of thing I care about. To one who disliked the experience the essay comes off as presumptive, preaching more to the choir than the critic. "We" this and "we" that... it's like "umm, speak for yourself, I don't agree with these interpretations".

Quote from: Criterion essay
Despite their apparent simplicity, Akerman’s assured framing and narrative, built out of blocks of real time intercut by radical ellipses, are not easily replicated. Rather, the film’s impact is indirectly evident in the emergence of a new phenomenological sensibility and approach to observation and the weight of time in the work of contemporary filmmakers as diverse as Abbas Kiarostami, Gus van Sant, Pedro Costa, Apichatpong Weerasethakul, Todd Haynes, Jia Zhangke, and Tsai Ming-liang.

I feel this paragraph, for instance, is nonsense. "The film's impact is indirectly evident"? Indirectly evident... as in what? As in none of these directors actually watched JD, but somehow it influenced them anyways and is responsible for a starting a trend? More like, here's a handful of people who discovered a not too hard to discover technique independently of one another, and embraced it. Akerman made a whole movie using it, and surely others before her employed it in a more moderate fashion. She attributes far to much influence to this film, without any evidence... just something in the air as far as I can tell.

You're own explanation embraces the subjective nature of your reaction, as evidenced by you starting each point by saying "I". Now you have my attention. "We" is hardly as inclusive as it sounds.

This brings up an interesting point. I use "we" sometimes, but only in describing a thing that happens on screen. Take this recent example:

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The shot I'll remember from this film is not the iconic final shot, though that is quite spectacular. No, for me it'll be the one a few before that, the long tracking shot of Antoine Doinel running away from his imprisonment towards an uncertain future scored only by the sounds of his shoes hitting the ground and bird song. As Antoine runs, we see him take a little pleasure in splashing through a puddle and we see the idyllic countryside scroll by. This moves me, but it is only the space through which Antoine moves. He ignores, for the most part, his surroundings and runs for the running of it. We know where he's come from and we can guess at where he's going, but in the mean time he runs. It seems this is the only thing he can do, so I rejoice in his doing it.

I start with I for a thing unique to my experience. I move into we when I describe what actually happens on screen, and then I move back into "me" for more of my reaction to the screen thing, and then back into "we" when I assume that the "we" has been paying attention to the film and can make predictions based on it, whatever they might be. And finally back to I for my own final reaction. How does this strike you. I guess there are those who might say that what each individual audience member sees would be different. I don't like to be a single watcher, though. I'm not the first to have seen this movie and I won't be the last. I am part of its audience, and everybody who is paying attention will probably agree on the parts I described with the we. Is that a problem for you, noff? I'm genuinely curious.

And I wouldn't let one bad Criterion essay spoil you on the whole genre of academic film writing. Like all other kinds of writing, there will be both good and bad examples.
Title: Re: On Writing
Post by: smirnoff on April 03, 2016, 11:02:41 PM
I'm not calling for you to bow down to outside sources. In fact, I'm only really arguing that we should feel empowered to pull in outside sources to support our own ideas and thoughts about a particular subject. I admit to being frustrated at seeing you change your mind when it comes to your own opinion on a film just because you read other people's thoughts on it. It felt like you were trying to assimilate yourself into the critical consensus rather than building your own point of view. In that way, I definitely agree that these more recent reviews have been better for foregrounding your opinions in them. That's the jam. I'm just saying that if I know somebody else has said something that I want to say (an opinion I have developed independently from them, or in conjunction, but never just taking theirs without carefully considering it) and has said it better than my writing will say it, I'm going to use that because it saves time and effort.

I'm slow to keep up with the discussion, which has trended towards advocating a balanced approach (there are good ways to bring in an outside sources and less good ways), which I'm in agreement with. In hindsight it's a distinction I should have made at the outset, as I can see my statement in the subsequent discussion is represented more broadly than I intended. To clarify, I'm advocating against a particular manner of employing of outside sources. That of letting it stand in the place of your own words. Cite it, use it as support, integrate it into your response, but do not let it be your response. "Tell me what you think love means?" *hands them a copy of Romeo and Juliet*.  :-\  Does Shakespeare say it better? Undoubtedly. Does it save time and effort? Certainly. Does it end the conversation? Absolutely.

Perhaps I'm prone to taking such things in the wrong way, but to me such redirections often feel as though I'm being shirked off. "Here's your answer, go away". The intention may have been to provide me with the best answer they could think of, which I suppose gave me what I asked for, but honestly I think I'd prefer a "worse" answer that came straight from the source... partly because I can speak to it, and partly because that time and effort is sign of respect (which I really appreciate, and try to reciprocate).

This is just my perspective mind you. It probably sounds like I'm trying to write policy.  :-\

With that in mind...
Now, is just providing a link and moving on the best way to do this?

I'm okay with it if the person is willing to vouch for, stand by, justify, and defend every word written as if it were their own. But that's a rather unreasonable thing to expect. And if you make the mistake of assuming it is the case you will very often find that when you go to pin the person down on a particular point, they will slide out from under it. "oh, well I don't agree with that bit" or "hey, it's not my opinion" or "you'd have to ask them". That's what I mean about not being able to have a conversation with a piece of writing, and why I don't support the practice. And what if there's a follow-up question? Who am I speaking to now?

Forums, I find, are an inherently difficult place to make conversations work at the best of times. The uncertainty of eliciting a response to a question posed to nobody in particular fosters a tendency to just go ahead and answer the response you presume you would have gotten in the very same post. :)) I've done that loads of times. Questions posed to nobody in particular rarely come back your way, while questions directed at someone can often be regarded with suspicion, some trap to be avoided, and don't get answered at all (responded to sure, but not answered). Taking the conversation out of the ring and into the crowd, to me, is just another thing that trips up the discussion (or can).

If I use an outside source here (specifying here as opposed to in a school paper or something), it's probably because I agree with it for the most part. As such, if you've got questions, I've got answers. I can back it up, give me that much credit. I'm not going to weasel my way out of something, I'm going to keep it going because these are still just supplemental.

Fair enough. As a rule it would though it would be difficult to take that for granted.

Quote
Sure, taking bringing stuff from the outside can mess with the flow. But can it not also enhance it? Might we develop a deeper understanding of both of our positions through the use of outside sources? Is that such a hard thing to envision?

I hope what I wrote above goes some ways to addressing my feelings on this (and what follows), it being a matter of how it is done, not whether or not it is done at all. In other words, I agree.
Title: Re: On Writing
Post by: smirnoff on April 03, 2016, 11:44:29 PM
Now, is just providing a link and moving on the best way to do this?

I'm okay with it if the person is willing to vouch for, stand by, justify, and defend every word written as if it were their own. But that's a rather unreasonable thing to expect. And if you make the mistake of assuming it is the case you will very often find that when you go to pin the person down on a particular point, they will slide out from under it. "oh, well I don't agree with that bit" or "hey, it's not my opinion" or "you'd have to ask them". That's what I mean about not being able to have a conversation with a piece of writing, and why I don't support the practice. And what if there's a follow-up question? Who am I speaking to now?

Forums, I find, are an inherently difficult place to make conversations work at the best of times. The uncertainty of eliciting a response to a question posed to nobody in particular fosters a tendency to just go ahead and answer the response you presume you would have gotten in the very same post. :)) I've done that loads of times. Questions posed to nobody in particular rarely come back your way, while questions directed at someone can often be regarded with suspicion, some trap to be avoided, and don't get answered at all (responded to sure, but not answered). Taking the conversation out of the ring and into the crowd, to me, is just another thing that trips up the discussion (or can).

I agree with almost everything here but not to the point where I would discourage quoting other people. I am sure there are ways to do it that avoid the dangers and fallacies you point out, like quoting only specific passages for example. Sometimes, other writers put things in a way that is inherently superior to what you are able to come up with and refraining from using that material to support your argument ends up impoverishing it.

Very much agree.

In light of all that has been said and clarified regarding the subject, my own issue was with such a narrow example of it, and I'm not sure now that it even bore mentioning. I do not regret the discussion though. :)

Quote
But what happens when the process is an emotional reaction ? How do you explain « I love this movie » ? You can analyse it, its technique, themes, dialogue, etc. ; but in my experience that is not what your ultimate attachement to the film boils down to. I am able to recognize that I probably would not like The Godfather if I had not watched it when and how I did the first time. However, I would be much harder for me to articulate what works in La Dolce Vita for me, and both are in my Top 10.

Quite so. I think we can all relate to the feeling that no mere paragraph is going to adequately explain our particular love for something. But having all shared this experience, it also allows us to recognize when one of us has a go at trying to find those perfect words anyways. So perhaps, in that way, the inarticulate response may be better than it appears, because it is sincere in it's struggle to be something even more. Oh the heroic effort! :)) Heh, I don't know if that's much an answer to your question though.

I guess another way of looking at it is that "why do you love this movie" is simply a bad question for someone to ask someone else. Bad, but perhaps necessary, and capable of getting a more nuanced discussion going, wherein more pointed questions may come about and lead to a that difficult answer that could not have been produced in a vacuum. :))

Now tell me why you love La Dolce Vita! :))
Title: Re: On Writing
Post by: verbALs on April 04, 2016, 12:06:12 AM
@smirnoff. Perhaps in the same way that academic writing requires that sources are cited whenever required, then when the word "we" is used the author is required to cite who they mean by "we". If the writer doesn't do that then it's an admission that they want what they say to carry more weight than if they say "I".

"I think...."
"We think..."

The latter sounds like something out of The Parallax View. Instant paranoia. Or there's an old horror film calledVillage of the Damned. All the kids seem to be communicating silently..."we think you should leave the village, Smirnoff!" Spooky!

My view is that "we" carries a power that "I" doesn't but that is also a crutch that somewhat implies that you have little enthusiasm or belief in your opinion so you allow a little heft.

"I"
The "I" in "J'accuse". I stand alone in my belief and I'm proud to present it.  It's what I believe. It's an opinion. Like the conversation starting around the use of outside sources. I don't like it and I tried to explain my feeling not in terms of being right. You explained your own feelings on the same subject. It doesn't require us to group together. We can state our individual feeling. Instead of it taking on some factual basis I'm happy to present myself as a loon who has a particular point of view. The more individually I can speak the better. There's that challenge. No hiding place. No artifice. I'd point out I still got reactions as if I was stating facts. However much I said I was being daft. The certainty I feel comes out in what I write but I'm just as happy if people want to start from a position where they take everything I say is pure BS. If they want. I'd prefer that than some suspicion I'm sitting here secretly believing I've got the answer. My point is "I" has real strength. "We" lasts as long as it takes to ask "really who is we, name name's".
Title: Re: On Writing
Post by: DarkeningHumour on April 04, 2016, 01:06:48 AM
I understand if you won't respond to any of this. I hope others will weigh in. This is a cocktail party, after all, everybody's welcome.

A bit daunting considering how much ground you're covering on your own. I am having trouble just keeping up with the reading.

This is probably the wordiest thread I have ever seen in the forum (relatively to its inception).
Title: Re: On Writing
Post by: DarkeningHumour on April 04, 2016, 01:10:25 AM
Bad, but perhaps necessary

Lovely thought.
Title: Re: On Writing
Post by: verbALs on April 04, 2016, 01:38:25 AM
The general point that quoting extracts from other pieces and then explaining their relevance in that ongoing forum discussion is getting lost in tangents. Dropping an entire article and then expecting others to read it is an obfuscation. If you can quote the relevant word sentence or paragraph but still make the effort to rephrase to fit the point at hand in your own words; seems eminently sensible. This is a bunch of movie fans talking. Not one professor to another lobbing references back and forth. There's a fog of links out there.

For instance, tiny may know exactly how that article relates to her point but I don't. Then noff picks out a passage that might be completely non sequitur to tinys specific point and drives a coach and horses through it (skilful horsemanship nevertheless). The point is this works both ways. I personally would like to know why a film about a woman washing up is worth watching. Just like I'm still waiting for a clue why I'd want to watch a film about a donkey even though I've got a copy of it sitting there for years now. The conversation that gets me interested is going to move towards clarity and not away from it. They'll perhaps include some enthusiasm for the movie. Enthusiasm is an unfakeable commodity. "I Am Sold Myself". If I get a sense a person admires a film I might think oh that person tends to admire films that are worthy. I tried that argument over Inland Empire which I've seen so I know how hopeless it is. Writing about it in admirable only confirms that opinion that it's the cinematic equivalent of thumbscrews. You don't have to try persuading me a film should be watched. I can discern by the passion of the language whether I might like it. And the reverse is true. Talk in measured reserved terms and I might get the definite impression the film might be really dull. Yes sometimes there's cultural significance or heavy thematic layers. Those arent hard to describe either though are they? Or maybe they are and that's where the challenge of writing comes from.
Title: Re: On Writing
Post by: DarkeningHumour on April 04, 2016, 01:52:23 AM
One running theme in this thread has me worried: the pernicious idea that previous or ex-post reading can be detrimental to one's ability to construct an understanding of a movie or to be able to react to it honestly. I wholeheartedly disagree with the notion.

I generally avoid to read reviews before watching a movie so as to not spoil the experience - and that is not the sort of thing I am talking about here. Reading someone else's take on the film after having experienced it can only further one's understanding of it, be the writer a professional critic or an amateur.

To cite an old philosophy teacher of mine, there is no idea more wrong in philosophy than believing you should not read philosophy books before forming an opinion on a question for fear they will pollute your thinking and make it less pure in its individuality. Now, the analogy is not perfect, and unlike philosophy, you can think about a movie in a vacuum because the exercise is usually one of analysis of an object whereas philosophy is abstract reflection on ideas that do not present themselves in their entirety by a similar process to that of watching a movie ; but the principle still stands.

That distinction means that it is not necessary to read about a movie to form an opinion about it. That is because we are able to apply whatever tools are at our disposal to poke it and dissect it, even in a vacuum. With no information about the history and tropes of the genre, about adapted material, about the filmography of the director, there are always things we are able to think about, depending on how we are equipped - although arguably, an actual utter lack of knowledge about anything would make us tool-less. Another reason we can write about the movie in the vacuum is that we have an emotional subjective reaction to most movies. Even if we understand nothing at all about a movie, it can still frighten us, make us laugh or cry, or excite the hell out of our living nerves. Maybe we will not be able to say how or why ; but the description of the reaction remains available.

Since we are not industry professionals, we have no obligation, and I am guessing no time (not to mention, probably, the inclination) to read about every movie we watch. That is fine, no one is here to become an established critic. However, reading other people's takes can only enhance our view on a movie.

Personally, I usually read reviews after watching a movie in three instances: if I am having trouble formulating my opinion of it and am looking for someone to supply me with their eloquence, if I didn't understand the movie and need some light to be shed upon it, or if, aware of what my own opinion is, I am merely looking for a critic to compare notes with, whether to understand his disagreement or have that tap-on-the-shoulder feeling that comes with reading things we ourselves think. I am mostly going to repeat things said by Junior as I talk about how we can completely reject an article we disagree with or adapt a criticism to our own take on the movie to further and sophisticate the latter. 

I will try providing a few examples, all coming from RogerEbert.com articles, which is my go-to place for movie criticism. I just watched The Conversation and Blind. Both baffled me a bit and I am going to look for some enlightenment on their meanings and some plot points that are not entirely clear to me. My objective is understanding the movies more clearly before I produce a review, even though I have a good idea of what my reaction to them is. I would rather not write from a place of ignorance. I am confident that I will not immediately believe i the interpretations of the writers because I have a history of disagreeing with reviews. I thought Ebert was too harsh in criticising Dirty Harry for being fascistic and in his review of AI it was evident that we viewed artificial intelligence in fundamentally different ways. I went to the website before writing about The Treasure of the Sierra Madre because I could not put my finger on what made the movie good. I wrote an opinion, an excessively poor one, and Ebert was, naturally, infinitely more eloquent than me. We didn't focus on the same subjects though. We rarely do. That is another wealth you acquire with reading other people. Two other contributors than me here wrote about Meek's Cutoff for Jeff's month. None of us came at it from the same direction and Sandy focused on thoughts about the colonist experience that spoke to her sources as an American and lover of Westerns. My thoughts were more ethereal. I was glad she reminded me of more down to earth considerations about the film.

The corollary of reading a review should be critically judging said review and determine how it fits into our own opinion.

That is the process that should preserve one from being subject to the blowings of whatever winds one comes across. I am not sure what I would recommend to someone who would have trouble not finding himself agreeing with any article found on a given movie. I would not, however, advise avoiding the practice of reading on the subject. It seems to me you can only hone your critical thinking faculties by reading as many divergent opinions about as many different matters as possible. Maybe that is the solution: always finding two views that directly contradict each other and work on comparing them.
Title: Re: On Writing
Post by: Paul Phoenix on April 04, 2016, 02:42:40 AM
In my experience, reading another man's review has brought me nothing but trouble. Each to his own. What DH said probably makes sense in a logical context, but personally, I just rarely had the pleasure of it benefiting me. You could say it's my own fault that happens, my own insecure vulnerabilities open to peer pressure and other influences alike, but if then, so be it. I think the best thing to do is to just use the method that works best for you, and unfortunately, reading other people's reviews don't work for me. At least not before I formulate my own thoughts in writing.

Religion seems like an absurd practice for many, even myself. Yet it works for some people. I intend to continue that placebo effect. If what I write is out of ignorance on a subject, it wouldn't harm either, particularly not to those who know better. There are no stupid questions, and an ignorant review would merely serve to further explore the relationship between man and film, and how a film affects a person without prior knowledge on the subject.
Title: Re: On Writing
Post by: verbALs on April 04, 2016, 03:11:41 AM
There are no stupid questions. Wise words that usually you come to through experience. A stupid question can spark the most incisive answers. You should never presume that a question is too silly because there are so many assumptions one can make. So many in fact that you can stop yourself asking a question or saying anything. So that when it comes to writing a review "in a vacuum"
you may find truths of your own.

The corollary of this is that hoping to be original in what you write is a pipe dream. Original thought is a hubristic stance in life. However  individual thought is another matter. Let's not assume anybody is touched by genius. Let's assume one stumbles onto an unusual (not original) idea when one writes. The more individual the process the more likely that this could be the result. The more influence comes from external sources the less likely individuality will result as a logical progression of that thought. Now please the rhetoric of "we are all influenced constantly" really doesn't need repeating to people does it? I would point out that the experience of film watching and film writing varies widely over forum members. There's some basics of film education that are hurdles to be cleared. I personally feel like my independent thought on the subject, informed by three or four years intensive film watching is the basis for a more individual approach. Like a degree only sets you up to go out into the world and start to practice some craft. There has to be progress past that point of education when you start applying it. So again I appeal to those who have been writing for a long time here to talk about where that process has lead them. People however are on different points in the trajectory on the learning curve. People need to know where they are before they can hope to move forward.

I understand people who were here from day one not involving themselves in "good film/bad film" conversations. Ive reached that point myself now. I was here from 2006 I didn't join the conversation till 2010. I had nothing to add all that time. Didn't know enough to even enter the game.



Title: Re: On Writing
Post by: DarkeningHumour on April 04, 2016, 04:38:35 AM
I understand people who were here from day one not involving themselves in "good film/bad film" conversations. Ive reached that point myself now. I was here from 2006 I didn't join the conversation till 2010. I had nothing to add all that time. Didn't know enough to even enter the game.

This would imply that any recent movie watcher would not be up to par with the rest of the contributors of the forum and unable to participate in the level of conversation that goes on here. I cannot accept that. The ideas of the profane have to be of equal value to the musings of the veterans.
Title: Re: On Writing
Post by: verbALs on April 04, 2016, 04:54:17 AM
How's your marathon (of directors was it?) going?
Title: Re: On Writing
Post by: DarkeningHumour on April 04, 2016, 05:01:10 AM
Not sure, haven't updated it in ages.
Title: Re: On Writing
Post by: verbALs on April 04, 2016, 05:07:38 AM
Why were you doing it?
Title: Re: On Writing
Post by: DarkeningHumour on April 04, 2016, 05:33:08 AM
I believe that education is important. I don't believe, however, that it is conditional to my opinion being worth something.
Title: Re: On Writing
Post by: verbALs on April 04, 2016, 05:58:13 AM
So which argument is it? Educate yourself to improve your opinion or learn nothing and speak from relative ignorance? I feel like both are being propounded almost in the same breath. My opinion was that knowing where you are is always a good idea generally in life. I'll be clear the right to an opinion is kind of like the right to breath. What would be the point of an objection. So the implication is moot. Certainly not worth discussing. Wasn't implied by me. Only inferred by you.
Title: Re: On Writing
Post by: verbALs on April 04, 2016, 06:33:28 AM
So I hope it can be agreed that an informed opinion is preferable to an uninformed opinion.  In film terms one watches and learns and reads and learns. On and on. Fundamentally there's a purpose. To serve our informed opinion. But you need to ask yourself why? To be able to come on a forum and stand up in a discussion? Or to understand ones tastes to make more informed decisions about what one watches. To get more from the next film you watch. To be able to understand more difficult art. To process it better. How going back to Vertigo having watched Rear Window enriches the experience as an example.

The point is that it all serves the individual not some hive mind.
Title: Re: On Writing
Post by: DarkeningHumour on April 04, 2016, 06:44:52 AM
My point was merely that, for the purpose of the forum, the worth of a poster's comment should not depend on his cinematographic baggage. That aside, I would obviously always advocate knowledge over ignorance.
Title: Re: On Writing
Post by: verbALs on April 04, 2016, 06:50:39 AM
Yes. Do you also agree that the imperative of an informed opinion is to serve individual aims. How you decide on what films to watch, how you understand new films, how quickly your opinions can form, how certain you are. These qualities are all accomplished through a more informed opinion. And they are all individual not group qualities.
Title: Re: On Writing
Post by: DarkeningHumour on April 04, 2016, 07:19:40 AM
Yes but I don't have the impression that I ever said otherwise.
Title: Re: On Writing
Post by: verbALs on April 04, 2016, 07:26:29 AM
Ok so that larger point that informed opinions serve one individually is established. At some point the process of informing oneself leads to better decisions and more incisive readings of movies. You can rely on your taste, observation skills and reactions to a film. The views of others will inevitably affect you less. You make up your own mind more completely.

That process, it seems to me, should inform and improve your writing. You see more, you get more of the subtext, themes are repeated and improved in movies,  cinematic references are apparent to you. You should understand a film more fully. Then its expressed in ones writing. General grammatical improvement or a better vocabulary aside the way anyone writes about movies should improve in quality.

Yet I'm hearing just as much about how people write less or feel less interest in writing. I can understand that an opinion can be expressed or kept to oneself. That's the users choice but the opinion still exists either way and it's a more rounded more educated opinion the longer you go down this process. More individual. In that sense I'd see a compulsion to let it out to the world just for the added confidence one must feel for knowing a little more than you did previously. I don't see that trend though so I wonder why opinions gradually become internalised.  Wherever you start from thse written opinions grow in quality through repetitive use of language and the surety of the experience of the film watcher. So the silence puzzles me.
Title: Re: On Writing
Post by: smirnoff on April 04, 2016, 11:42:19 PM
Now others may start from a different paradigm. That art is communication of emotion. It's something else. An intellectual expression? We are creatures of pure thought perhaps? Are we? We can write that way but are we? Before Sean left this place he was at a point of saying he had no interest in reading how films made the writer feel. I personally responded very poorly to that PoV. It seemed superior. I can see now that as you move forward with writing that talking about good film/bad film seems reductive. "I liked this film, it had good explosions. 7/10".

:)) This is amusing to me. I know that example is supposed to be a demonstration of low level criticism, but I appreciate it. Because why? Because what does it accomplish? It is not a great example of eloquent writing, or deep thinking, but it is capable of things that sometimes deep, eloquent writing is not. Being read, for instance. What is the  use of sharing great words in great quantities if nobody reads them? A review which consists of a reaction, a reason and a rating, all in under a 12 words, will always be read. It almost can't help but be read! By the time you judge weather you should bother reading it, you've already read it! :))

It's second "virtue", or what I find to be a virtue, is the unmistakable reaction. "I liked this". I am perhaps old fashioned in still appreciating such plainness. I think I know the arguments against it... some say that it doesn't matter, others say that the writers craft, if they are good, should be sufficient to inform readers of their opinion. I'm not a big fan of having to scour a review to work out a persons feelings. I'm even less of a fan of writing devoid of feelings one way or the other. I like when I have a sense of where their insights, arguments, observances, and musings are coming from. I like it as a kicking off point.

I'm not sure I can explain why. If I might use your review of Tree Of Life (http://www.filmspotting.net/forum/index.php?topic=9917.msg831080#msg831080) as an example... I believe you could have written that review, exactly the same way, whether you despised the film or loved it. You're capable of such impartiality, and you can write at great length for the sheer satisfaction of working out an idea through words. The length and eloquence of the writing, to me, does not betray a level of enthusiasm for the film itself or the experience you had with it (sometimes it does, sometimes it doesn't). What I see and know for sure is the passion you had for perusing that particular idea, which you worked out in the review.

What changes if I know how you regard the film experience? For me, If I knew you liked it, I read it with an eye towards finding a "key". I think to myself "Gee, I'm a thinking, feeling human being, capable of challanging myself, considering new philosophies and styles... It should be as least remotely possible that I too could enjoy this thing if in reading about it I discover a key to doing so". It's certainly not my key, because I've tried watching ToL and it doesn't even fit in the hole. Or my thinking may not even be that lofty, I may just think "ok, what did I miss".

But reading those same ideas in the absence of knowing what they may unlock... I think it takes the stakes away from my reading it.... my very motivation to read it in fact. If we agree on a film I am satisfyingly thrilled, if we disagree I am satisfyingly challenged. If I do not know how you feel about a film, I'm neither, because no ideas about a film are true in and of themselves, they require a viewer to give them polarity.
Title: Re: On Writing
Post by: verbALs on April 05, 2016, 02:36:57 AM
Quote
What is the  use of sharing great words in great quantities if nobody reads them?

Because you as the writer benefit from the formation of the thought that went into the construction of the sentences and paragraphs.

You certainly can't beg for people to read what you write can you? You can, in fact, have no expectation of it at all. You can be nice to other people and scratch their backs so they scratch yours, but when they say how great your writing is, are they responding to that piece or are they making sure they get their back scratched down the line? If the thought of how you feel about a film actually starts to develop so it more closely matches the sophistication of the film, by even 1 tenth of one percent then that's an important development.

So you noff want people to write about films in a way that is completely acceptable to you and that suits you. Now let's keep this between you and me. Lets say were the only ones here. I will promise to write in the form that you like from now on. So Ive promised to do something for you. That sounds like we have a deal but a one sided one. So naturally I have to ask, what are you going to do for me? Then we will have a proper deal. I can send you my paypal details and we'll start negotiations at Ł50 a review. Then I'll write in the form that you like. Its an example of "do we act as individuals?" or are we serving something else? I said firstly that I grow as a film watcher by writing exactly what suits me to write without any concern for who is reading;

1) filmspotting is a small place to write
2) plenty of people have complained and been put off by a lack of response to their reviews

Now both reasons beg for an answer: why write on this forum? I just gave you my answer to that question. when Lobby asked the question (she was observing the lack of response to her reviews sometimes, even though she was extremely well liked here), I thought about why I was doing it and came up with this answer. Now its my answer not anybody else's but at least I have a very strong coherent answer that I can work with. Again I'd be fascinated to hear other people's answers.

Whiplash- he's made up his mind his drumming won't be any better if people like him. He determines in a way he feels he has learnt from Charlie Parker that people will like his work because it will be legendary and they will have little choice. They'll hate him but still KNOW he is legend. Im talking about the film not me, but its a great dramatic example of whether people want to play popularity contests like those two brothers in the high school football team or not.

Noff as ever you are an excellent lightening rod and Im glad you are around more.



But I should play the game here and actually answer the question you are asking me (instead of answering the one I want to answer  ;D)

The example of Tree of Life........is a terrible example. I wrote about Jubal the other day. I think I was sufficiently clear that I bloody love that movie. I wrote about The Night Manager in those pithy tones ya like s'much. ToL the first time? Maybe next time. I watched it and gave my reaction. My reaction was to speak in terms of the film I just watched which is uniquely attempting to say something directly about Life the Universe and Everything. And I barely got that from the film the first time through. Give me a chance will'ya. I thought I did fine getting as far as I did.

If someone wrote the three line review that you suggest about Tree of Life, how exactly would that help you (YOU YOU YOU its all about you innit?)? You might get a good strong feeling whether they like or don't. Terrific. Now you know the film has its charms well-guarded don't you? So you know three lines isn't going to peel back those heavy velvet curtains and teach you the hidden mysteries of Malick. Or maybe I'm assuming too much. Show me a review of ToL that does that. I appreciate your disappointment that I didn't  do it and I appreciate that you think I might actually be up to the task (I don't see you asking anyone else here to explain it  ;D). I got as far as grasping the tone of the movie and how that might communicate a message. I wrote about the tone created by Malick's method. Seriously what do you want for free. This ain't my job...I jest. Seriously (coolly) it might come together much better next time (if there is a next time). I might get somewhere more in the neighbourhood of what you like in a review. I'll bear it in mind because you and Sandy are the only people who have admitted they read what I write, and you is my peoples. But give Malick a little credit too. Its appropriate to say what I did that Malick really isn't that bothered what you or I think of his film. He could never have conceived such an idea with the average cinema going joe in mind. Could he? He's got some highfalutin' ideas that guy. I praise his ambition and the fact he has a method that allows him to explore such spiritual concepts. I kind of wrote about his method and nothing much else.

I admit I actually tried to write a review which matched the tone of the film I watched. would it be fair to say that your reaction to what I wrote was in the emotional ballpark of your reaction to Malick's film? Cos I was kind of aiming for that. The spirit of Malick imbues me. I'm imbued, noff. I'm imbued with some special spirit. It's not a religious feeling at all. It's a shocking eruption of great electrical energy. I feel vivid and flashing, as if suddenly I'd been plugged into some great electromagnetic field. I feel connected to all living things. To flowers, birds, all the animals of the world. And even to some great, unseen, living force. What I think the Hindus call prana. But it's not a breakdown. I've never felt more orderly in my life. It is a shattering and beautiful sensation. It is the exalted flow of the space-time continuum, save that it is spaceless and timeless and... of such loveliness. I feel on the verge of some great, ultimate truth.

unquote. If only we could live by movie quote alone. Lovely. The last bit was Paddy Chayefsky. One should credit one's betters. I mean all the guy's doing is talking about how he feels. (https://i.imgur.com/ErpMtYH.gif)

But mate when I watch a film now I feel imbued. I feel the power and spirit of the film. I feel very connected. I let the film tell me. I am certifiable. I am the film whisperer. They whisper to me. If there's a disconnect between where I'm at and what you like from film reviews I understand that but I understand it as a development in my writing and you don't write so much because you reached the top and had to stop. In other words you were satisfied with that more basic way of reviewing films. I mean you are satisfied aren't you? Like I say you don't write so much which is a pity. You just challenged me in a way that is frustratingly rare. In depth, with incredible consideration and as respectfully as ever. You pinned me to the board and dissected me. I hope I was up to the standard of the challenge you set me.
Title: Re: On Writing
Post by: saltine on April 05, 2016, 02:49:16 AM
I quit reviewing films here when two posters of real ability stated that a film review is inadequate when one states whether or not one liked the film and why.  After that I was too intimidated to post another review because that was all I had to say about the films I watched.
Title: Re: On Writing
Post by: DarkeningHumour on April 05, 2016, 04:47:54 AM
It's second "virtue", or what I find to be a virtue, is the unmistakable reaction. "I liked this". I am perhaps old fashioned in still appreciating such plainness. I think I know the arguments against it... some say that it doesn't matter, others say that the writers craft, if they are good, should be sufficient to inform readers of their opinion. I'm not a big fan of having to scour a review to work out a persons feelings. I'm even less of a fan of writing devoid of feelings one way or the other. I like when I have a sense of where their insights, arguments, observances, and musings are coming from. I like it as a kicking off point.

I'm not sure I can explain why. If I might use your review of Tree Of Life (http://www.filmspotting.net/forum/index.php?topic=9917.msg831080#msg831080) as an example... I believe you could have written that review, exactly the same way, whether you despised the film or loved it. You're capable of such impartiality, and you can write at great length for the sheer satisfaction of working out an idea through words. The length and eloquence of the writing, to me, does not betray a level of enthusiasm for the film itself or the experience you had with it (sometimes it does, sometimes it doesn't). What I see and know for sure is the passion you had for perusing that particular idea, which you worked out in the review.

What changes if I know how you regard the film experience? For me, If I knew you liked it, I read it with an eye towards finding a "key". I think to myself "Gee, I'm a thinking, feeling human being, capable of challanging myself, considering new philosophies and styles... It should be as least remotely possible that I too could enjoy this thing if in reading about it I discover a key to doing so". It's certainly not my key, because I've tried watching ToL and it doesn't even fit in the hole. Or my thinking may not even be that lofty, I may just think "ok, what did I miss".

But reading those same ideas in the absence of knowing what they may unlock... I think it takes the stakes away from my reading it.... my very motivation to read it in fact. If we agree on a film I am satisfyingly thrilled, if we disagree I am satisfyingly challenged. If I do not know how you feel about a film, I'm neither, because no ideas about a film are true in and of themselves, they require a viewer to give them polarity.

This speaks to me because my first reaction after finishing my Ikiru  (http://www.filmspotting.net/forum/index.php?topic=9917.msg832283#msg832283)and The Conversation (http://www.filmspotting.net/forum/index.php?topic=13471.msg832174#msg832174) reviews, two of my most recent, was « I don't, at any point, comment on the actual quality of the movie, the filmmaking or even whether I liked it or not. ». I am not sure I like that. I like thinking about movies and their themes and developing trains of thought but write-ups that only delve into that realm end up being rather impersonal, intellectual and are hard to react to for other people. But since I do not have a framework for what a review should be, at least when I am the one doing the writing, I am wont to produce that sort of reaction. I am naturally drawn to think in that way and only realise what I haven't said when I am finished, and the final rating feels unjustified. Typically, that does lead to a lack of responses from other members.

That being said, I would like to know what you think of what I wrote on those two movies and how you relate it to your previous points.
Title: Re: On Writing
Post by: verbALs on April 05, 2016, 05:13:25 AM
I would say that in both cases you are explaining the movies. The value of that is that you are explaining the movie to yourself and both films are thematically rich. So your explanation will put you in a place where you have progressed as a writer and watcher because both are really important movies and you'll not find a greater challenge in understanding than these ones. The downside might be that you are explaining the movie to people who have seen it processed it watched it again and again, so they know what the films are about. Being able to comprehend the theme of a film is an important place to reach and the discussion that follows of what that theme means to you and to others is the pool into which you dive from that springboard. Enjoying the water once you have left the springboard is a wonderful thing about writing.
Title: Re: On Writing
Post by: Teproc on April 05, 2016, 06:08:04 AM
Explaining themes is something I struggle with a lot when writing about film. Because, isn't the whole point of themes in film that you're able to express idea in ways other than words ? Inevitably, explaining the themes of a film is a very watered down experience from actually watching it... though it certainly has its usefulness because not everyone will perceive those themes in the same way of course.

Which is why "explain why you like/didn't like it" is the only way I can do it. Because in the end, it comes down to the meeting of a spectator and a film on an equal terrain, not the film existing in its own sphere and the spectator below it.
Title: Re: On Writing
Post by: verbALs on April 05, 2016, 06:11:56 AM
Explaining how effective a theme has been communicated in a film is explaining why you enjoyed it. You really like that when a film communicates courage or loyalty, for instance, really well, it stirs emotions in you. Big positive emotions. If you just identify that the film had a theme of courage, you kind of haven't said so much. But if you connect your feelings with the reasons those emotions swelled in you. Your gonna learn as much about yourself trying to explain that in words. One responds really positively to watching someone display courage? Really? Why? In fact you are enthusiastically telling other people why the film is so good in terms they can emotionally understand. In my terms that means by communicating feeling your review becomes its own work of art. I mean writing is an art form undeniably and everyone can think of a piece of writing that is a work of art. What you write as a review has every chance of being the same thing. I know thats an ambitious way of looking at it. But Alan Moore says anyone who writes is a writer and that is good enough for me.
Title: Re: On Writing
Post by: DarkeningHumour on April 05, 2016, 08:38:06 PM
All hail Alan Moore.

I thought we had established that emotions were poisonous poppycock ?

I feel like this thread would benefit from the contributions of Martin, who is probably the biggest writer on here, Corndog, who writes professionally (I think) and OAD, who is a teacher. Among others, of course.
Title: Re: On Writing
Post by: verbALs on April 06, 2016, 12:24:50 AM
Quote
I like thinking about movies and their themes and developing trains of thought but write-ups that only delve into that realm end up being rather impersonal, intellectual and are hard to react to for other people.

Quote
I thought we had established that emotions were poisonous poppycock ?

I think at some point in the future you are going to really choose between one of these two.

I spoke earlier about the idea of writing originally, of original thought when so many great minds have already had similar thoughts, being an impossible dream, but individual thought being a very good second place to original thought. You either write from the assumption that you are

a) a unique snowflake
b) something akin to a Borg collective

that you use "we" quite as much as you do tends to suggest that you feel you are of the latter persuasion.  You feel more of that persuasion because its humorous rather than an absolute concept. We neither exist in a cultural vacuum nor communicate telepathically, for clarity.

My feeling is that individual thinking is either acknowledged or tripped over anyway. The best writing comes from individual thinking and its challenges. That's what I believe and of course you can go your own way. The clarity that believing in individual thought gives me really (em)powers my writing, I think.
Title: Re: On Writing
Post by: DarkeningHumour on April 06, 2016, 12:51:24 AM
I thought it was clear that that emotions line was not to be taken in the first degree.

As for my use of we, using « one » and « oneself » all the time would feel tedious and would needlessly make the prose heavier. Also, I don't see how I am supposed to address universal issues without resorting to such impersonal phrasings. There is nothing collectivist about adopting a groupview when you are dealing with matters that do not concern only you. « We fear death. » Am I being a sheep ? Hardly, that is a generally true statement for humans. Whether it hold true for me personally or how I feel about it I may get to a few sentences later or not. In any case, recognising that fact does not make me less individualistic. It is only an instance of me thinking beyond myself. Why should my opinion about how humans work be less personal than my opinion about how I work ?

Oh, and I am unfamiliar with Star Trek. Maybe a Doctor Who reference ?
Title: Re: On Writing
Post by: Junior on April 06, 2016, 12:52:06 AM
A response to nobody in particular because I don't enjoy being misrepresented.

There is, I imagine, a space between the hivemind and the lone wolf. That space would have us care about each other in a very real way. We would understand that our place in the world is singular, yes, but also pushed and pulled in a web of interconnected lives. Some of those strands might reach back through time to our earliest ancestors and some might be as clear and as straightforward as the bond between friends. We make decisions, value judgements, and develop preferences based on these interactions. The sum of the web, despite being connected to countless people and ideas and situations, is singular. Or very close to singular. Nobody else had your upbringing, nobody else had your exposure to works of art in the same order and way that you did, and nobody else is quite like you. The two ideas are not mutually exclusive and are, in fact dependent upon each other. If you don't like to use "we" when you write, it's probably because the people around you didn't like to use it when you were developing that opinion.  DH, you wanted a teacher's perspective. This is, as far as I understand it, very close to the most modern way of understanding a student's writing situation. Even then, it's pretty stuck in the 80s and 90s. A lot of new work in the field is focused on the digital, which is a whole nother can of worms. OAD can clarify, perhaps, if I'm getting my info wrong. I've only been doing this professionally for a year.

As a post script, this is a very helpful way of looking at the ability society has to make one feel very much a part of it or very much separate from it. Society is great at both. If you fit the criteria, welcome to the club. If you don't, enjoy your exile. Taking this wider look at the real impact society has on an individual is essential to helping that individual free themselves from the constraints society has put on them. You can't break chains that you don't know exist. One chain might be racism, another ageism, and a third a stubborn adherence to the way things were, nostalgia. This critical focus on society actually emphasizes the individual by contrasting her with the group. It ensures that we recognize the ways that she is not like us so that we can understand her better. Differences become just differences and no longer value judgements. A person might be blamed for not making enough money, but society can be blamed for not providing him the opportunity to do meaningful and rewarded work. Only by focusing on the society can we fix the flaws in the system. Looking at individuals will just make us hate them.
Title: Re: On Writing
Post by: verbALs on April 06, 2016, 01:13:31 AM
You are right DH. Using "one" avoids any and all confusion. So that when you use "we" then one understand what you mean.

Title: Re: On Writing
Post by: DarkeningHumour on April 06, 2016, 01:16:05 AM
Well that's a stylistic choice and I am confortable with my current style in that regard.
Title: Re: On Writing
Post by: verbALs on April 06, 2016, 01:20:09 AM
Using all the tools in the box for what they were designed for feels the right way to go rather than a stylistic choice.

I'm not sure how any of that helps the earlier problem you highlighted of neither writing emotionally nor writing impersonally. Quite a Gordian Knot to cut. Best of luck with it.

I feel this is the conundrum saltine mentioned. Writing personally leads to tendency towards a less intellectual discussion. Yet the alternative lacks originality.
Title: Re: On Writing
Post by: DarkeningHumour on April 06, 2016, 01:21:55 AM
My problem is a thematic one of dong a thematic dissertation versus actually going into my having or not enjoyed the movie. I don't see how resorting to « we » or « one » is going to help there.
Title: Re: On Writing
Post by: Junior on April 06, 2016, 01:27:56 AM
Here's a pretty simple outline you might try for your reviews, if that's your goal with them:

1. What theme do I think is being expressed in this movie?
2. How is it being expressed (plot, dialogue, story, camera work, music, acting, whatever else)
3. How well is it being expressed, or how much impact did it have on me? These are two different questions, but both solid ways of trying to bring in some critical evaluating things.

I find it ultra helpful to focus on details of how a movie is constructed to understand what I felt about the movie and what I thought it was communicating to me. Build up from the details and you'll also build into a singular review, because chances are nobody else will have written about the detail you pick, and if they did, they won't have your perspective on it.

This is, I hope I don't have to say, not the only way of going about it. It's a nice little formula to get you started, though.
Title: Re: On Writing
Post by: verbALs on April 06, 2016, 01:37:49 AM
My problem is a thematic one of dong a thematic dissertation versus actually going into my having or not enjoyed the movie. I don't see how resorting to « we » or « one » is going to help there.
Right tool for the right job. In this case choosing being clear about what you mean in the context of this conversation or being stylish. The choice being a personal one.
Title: Re: On Writing
Post by: Paul Phoenix on April 06, 2016, 07:27:51 AM
I feel this is the conundrum saltine mentioned. Writing personally leads to tendency towards a less intellectual discussion. Yet the alternative lacks originality.

I could relate to this very well. In fact, I've been having this problem since, AFAIR, my Planet of the Apes review a day back, though the symptoms might have appeared a bit earlier than that.

I've been finding myself summarizing the plot more so than talking about it. My reviews ended up hum-drum with little personality to them, like countless other formal plot-summaries you could find out there without my writing. The thing is, unless a movie (or even a TV episode) compels me on a deep emotional level, it's not that easy to "write personally" per say. And the problem is, one simply cannot be compelled by every movie or episode, even well-written/well-made ones. Sometimes, there's really nothing more interesting for me to say than, "That was an entertaining movie with some good thoughts to think about. It didn't affect me on a personal level that I could talk about, but it was simply just 'fun'."

The good thing about Planet of the Apes was its theme (or rather, the theme resonated by its significant ending), but as you guys have discussed about, writing about theme can present a problem regarding impersonal writing. I'm sure I'm just beating the proverbial dead horse at this point, but what I feel is, writing about some important theme present in the movie as opposed to writing about a theme that makes you feel something, there can be a difference there. If the theme is about politics, democracy, or some subject that alienates me on some level, I'm pretty sure I won't have much input other than a boring plot-summary, maybe some light, humorous remarks sprinkled in every now and then.

I think this gets worse with television reviews. Unlike movies with their big theatrical releases, a lot in television serials are procedural, so even if some significant plot-development happens in an episode, it might feel formulaic or mundane to me that if I were to review this plot-development at all, it would just come out as some lifeless plot-summary too since I don't feel anything emotional about that development. The simple solution is to just skip the review for that particular episode, I know, but it does further paint the picture of the problem, which is how I can have no interesting perspectives to add to the conversation when I don't feel anything. Emotions are a major part of film. I think reviews are more than just an intellectual engagement. I mean, I might talk about the technical aspects of a well-made film like 2001 or Casablanca, but if I don't have that emotional connection with the movie, then anything I say could be said better by any professional critic or writer. No emotions = no personality.
Title: Re: On Writing
Post by: MartinTeller on April 06, 2016, 10:01:42 AM
I feel like this thread would benefit from the contributions of Martin, who is probably the biggest writer on here

Are you making fun of my weight?

Seriously, thank you for the flattering words. But in terms of volume, I think verbALs and smirnoff are much bigger writers. And although oneaprilday doesn't write reviews too often, when she does they are beautiful, extraordinary works of analytic depth and insight. oad is who we should be looking to for thoughts on writing.
Title: Re: On Writing
Post by: verbALs on April 06, 2016, 02:06:46 PM
The Coens film Hail, Caesar opened the idea of the dialectic to me. Two opposing philosophical arguments that are completely at odds, natural enemies if you like, which argue with the intention of finding a common solution.

The entire United Kingdom is an operating dialectic argument, and many countries may be the same. The UK example has two opposing sides;

1) A feudalistic society based on landowning and patronage (medals, more land, jobs) which has been squeezed into the shape of a working capitalist operating system. Represented by the Conservative Party.
2) A socialist leaning attempt to support those people who exist outside of the ruling class, with essentially liberal ideas of law and order, and how the establishment should operate. Represented by the Labour Party.

Two systems with nothing in common.

They go to Parliament and scream at each other, sometimes in an apparently pointless way. They expend vast amounts of energy without a clear aim.

Yet, because they have an understanding that the country has to operate to everyone's benefit, they scream at each other with the intention of creating something workable. That workable system involves;

A welfare state and a health service that is free for everyone at the point of use. No need for health insurance. An education system run with similar intentions. A vicious, devouring financial system that allows a puny little country to draw vast wealth into its structure, operating hand in hand with New York, Shanghai and Tokyo to keep the capitalist world spinning. A ruling monarchy with little political power but which supports the same system of patronage that has existed for a thousand years; giving out medals on the Queens Birthday and New Years Day, to any old bloke who spent his life perpetuating the system.

Lovely.

The dichotomy is astounding. What I am presenting is a system of argument with a higher purpose. There is no need to argue to win because winning is detrimental. There is always a secondary solution that leaves the integrity of whoever argues intact. Everyone agrees that there is a solution that includes enough that suits all participants. You can in fact scream at the top of your lungs as an expression of passionate support for your position, but you stay within that chamber.

If the diametrically opposed members of Parliament can do it and produce this spinning ball of confused antithetical beauty that is the busted flush that is the United Kingdom, then when arguing a simple case of opinion, it shouldn't be beyond the wit of intelligent people to produce solutions  of relative simplicity.

How's that? Go watch Hail Caesar . A bunch of communist screenwriters explain it.
Title: Re: Respond to the last movie you watched
Post by: verbALs on April 07, 2016, 02:50:46 PM
PA, I'm not sure that would improve it. If anything, the lesson, that all his efforts to appear impressive are irrelevant, and really he needs to engage with her as a person could be the saving grace of the film. But I think like you say I search out the implications mostly because the base level gags were failing miserably for me. I should also note that I had a fairly bad response to Shaun The Sheep...guess that's another just a kids film.
I think there's a lot of value to pursuing this idea possibly in "On Writing" but I'll leave it here. I've been propounding the idea of individual thought and one can certainly credit bondo with individualism here. When you read someone over a number years there's a picture that forms, a greater concept of what the individual likes and dislikes. Their taste as an entity becomes clearer and the more individual the person the clearer their taste becomes from outside.

Now I'll turn this around to avoid misinterpreted offence. Someone reads my reviews. They have a very opposed view to mine so that as they get to understand my taste the better their understanding grows of how their own taste differs. Again the more individual the review the easier to discern differences of opinion. I love Kermode but I don't agree with his taste. I can use that difference to work out if I would like the film in question. I don't know where bondo would gain any perspective on what a kid would like so an F on a kids film from bondo will make me more inclined want to see the film.....if I was a child. I've got little reason to watch kids films personally. I did my time.

The important quality is that individual review. The more unique the voice the easier it is to work out how the film will work for me. Also the consistency that comes from individuality by which I suppose I mean the honesty but also the clarity and certainty of that voice. I don't doubt bondo believes what he says precisely because his words are so close to his beliefs. Nobody would feel bondo had had a massive change of heart over time. There's some certainty that can be taken into consideration when making ones own mind up.

I think this needs saying. To respect his individuality rather than only be at odds with it would be good for the soul. For a group of people to come to one place year after year should be enough of a shared bond(o) for anyone. I don't have his taste but that doesn't mean I can't use it to my benefit and I can certainly depend on his certainty of opinion not to change or be unclear the way less individual writers would be. Another argument for individual thinking and writing.
Title: Re: On Writing
Post by: Junior on April 07, 2016, 04:07:11 PM
There was one thing that I found my department to focus on that hadn't really been in my thoughts before coming here and I thought I might share it with you. We like original thought in our essays and it is our top priority to engender that in our students. We like using sources to help say what needs to be said so that we can have our students bring in multiple lines of thought with which they can agree or disagree or agree with a difference. But also we like their theses (that plural of thesis, not these) to be arguable. Perhaps my prior institution did have that same requirement, if they did, it wasn't emphasized like it is here.

Making sure a student has an arguable thesis ensures that she doesn't waste her time and mine with something that everybody already agrees on. "Some people like ice cream" is the example I give in class. Yeah, that's right. So what? What is there to prove about that claim? Some do, some don't. Paper over. It seems almost obvious to say, but you wouldn't believe how many papers I get even after that day in class which go on and on about a thing that everybody already agrees with. It must be difficult to write such a work, especially since we do also value original thought and ideas so much. It's a one-two punch of unoriginality and it hurts me to see it every time.
Title: Re: On Writing
Post by: DarkeningHumour on April 08, 2016, 12:29:47 AM
I started thinking about how that could relate to my writing here until I realised I do not technically have theses to defend. I don't say things, I talk about the things said by another work. So it is self-evident that some people are afraid of dying, but that is not my point, it is the movie's. Should I however focus on the aspects of the movie that go outside common sense and general knowledge, even if they are not where it spends most of its energy ? I suppose it would make for more compelling reading.
Title: Re: On Writing
Post by: Junior on April 08, 2016, 12:40:53 AM
No, that's not the only direction you can go, and it might not be what you want to do, so don't do it. It should be noted that I wasn't specifically talking about reviews, which are a different thing than the kind of writing we do in English 1 and 2 (though evaluations are often types of papers we assign). In a review my thesis is often that a film is saying x by y methods and that it is z effective, generally speaking. It's fits into the arguable end of the spectrum nicely (your arguer could say that the film isn't saying what you think it is, or that it is better or worse than you think it is at saying it) and you can mix and match all sorts of things into those three variables and it starts to feel very loose as a kind of framework. Though I have advocated for an individual point of view here and in my class, that is not at the expense of a solid structural foundation. A long and rambling piece will be harder to follow and will lose some of its meaning by its very nature. I guess a short rambling thing would do the same, though not as badly. The formula helps keep me on track and ensures that I touch on everything I want to touch on.
Title: Re: On Writing
Post by: Bondo on April 08, 2016, 12:52:38 AM
In the previous 24 hours, I'd say my feelings on The Peanuts Movie have thawed slightly. While I was intentionally provocative in the nature and wording of my review, I was at least not intending to be disingenuous. Whether they are fair critiques of the film in a broader sense, they were the thoughts that hit me as I watched the film. I'd posit two things, if I had posted a more moderated review, it wouldn't have sparked the subsequent debate (that I think has been substantive to both the movie and considering what might be the proper way to watch or write about a movie). And if it didn't spark that response, I wouldn't have been forced to think harder about the film than the first blush reaction that was captured in my review. And that's why, while I still consider it a deeply unfulfilling film, I'd bump it up to a D, maybe be more inclined to write that moderated review that expresses the concerns but notes the potential bright spots.

One thing I'm not sure I'd do is try to get into the child's-eye perspective. To start playing the intended audience game is to move toward an objective-ish approach to review, one that I tend to reject as illusory to begin with. As such, I can only offer a review from my own perspective as a childless adult, and through my frame of reference as someone sensitive to portraits of gender relations. I think back to my rather atypical interpretation of The Illusionist, which made it a far less innocent film. My interpretation was absolutely wrong in consideration of authorial intent, but I'd argue it was plausible just based on the text. I think this gets to what Junior is talking about. Sometimes you risk being wrong in being different, but it is worth it because only through difference can assumptions or status quo be challenged.

Anyway, I do like the idea of studying people and learning how to use them as a gauge for recommendations even if you don't have the same tastes. Kermode works for me because he has that "Old Trot" lefty feminist approach. There are other places where I can predict I will break from him though. I'd put it a bit like talking about beer. I might drink an IPA and be like yuck, so hoppy. Well, someone who likes hoppy beers might see that as a recommendation, even though I was saying it was bad. My reaction has provided a function, even if an indirect one.
Title: Re: On Writing
Post by: verbALs on April 08, 2016, 01:03:15 AM
I started thinking about how that could relate to my writing here until I realised I do not technically have theses to defend.
Yes. Forum posts can be viewed as throwaway opinions. I might be writing a lot but I could see myself deleting it all. Certainly not placing a gold frame around my posts for people to admire. These posts are waypoints. Points I feel I have to pass through to get to where I need to get, which is just slightly a better understanding of a subject than where I started. So yes I could delete every post straight after writing it or I could write a piece then take a good look at it and then not post it at all. {I can fill the joke void I have created at this point by saying yes I know.....I could run a poll on that point see how people feel on that subject. I know I know}

I've already explained why that would be my entire purpose in writing. It's all What is called "chip paper" here. It was newspaper yesterday so very important but they used to take newspaper and give them to fish and chip shops (until the obvious danger of coating food in lead based printing inks became apparent). The opinion moves on leaving the old opinion redundant. Chip paper.

What do I gain? Well this week I've gained two brilliant 70s crime films, 63 pages of an astounding book and a half dozen great new tunes. I'd say I've gained a lot and that was the entire point. I can pick to my taste much better for actually knowing my taste in detail. Duvall, Westlake, 70s crime, Indy cinema treatment.....I'm all in on that.  How do I know that? About 6 years of saying jI bloody love all that stuff. Purpose. Purpose actualised. The writing is part of that process.

Quote
it is worth it because only through differences can assumptions and status quo be challenged
Good point beautifully put.

I think I saw you say recently bondo that writing less towards debate and more towards your individual view was becoming your aim. I'm paraphrasing. In this case it might be more difficult to be individual because of the remove between yourself and a kids movie. The debate was in the PC idea but the debate wasn't as interesting because it just two opposing extremes lobbing missives at each other. I see your intent but I respect the personal point of view being expressed here a lot more than the rhetoric that might aggravate someone into replying. I do however share anyone's feeling that being individual might lead to no reply at all. I think it comes with the territory though.

Title: Re: On Writing
Post by: Paul Phoenix on April 08, 2016, 01:18:31 AM
One thing I'm not sure I'd do is try to get into the child's-eye perspective. To start playing the intended audience game is to move toward an objective-ish approach to review, one that I tend to reject as illusory to begin with. As such, I can only offer a review from my own perspective as a childless adult, and through my frame of reference as someone sensitive to portraits of gender relations. I think back to my rather atypical interpretation of The Illusionist, which made it a far less innocent film. My interpretation was absolutely wrong in consideration of authorial intent, but I'd argue it was plausible just based on the text. I think this gets to what Junior is talking about. Sometimes you risk being wrong in being different, but it is worth it because only through difference can assumptions or status quo be challenged.

Very much agree. Often, I would just like to say a children's movie is childish and move on.

I think this point has raised a pretty good insight on how reviews, when boil down to the essential meaning, are really just a review of our own feelings towards the movie, not so much a review of the supposed objective quality of the film. Leave it to the professional critics and enthusiasts alike to be informative. Some of the most objectively popular movies, say Terminator 2, would get old for me after a few years, and though the same can't be said for everyone else, I think giving a movie rewatch a 3/5 rating isn't exactly unfair. I've moved onto bigger and shinier things. If I don't get that chance to tell you about how superficial I can be, then how are you going to realize, "Of course, Hollywood is now catering towards kids like him." Me and my personal feelings are part of the statistic in the overall assessment of film. Even if my annoyance towards Ghostbusters 3's conspicuous sociopolitical move of subverting the gender of every single original cast member might be unjustified, hey, at least you know there's a dick like me out there who won't pay to watch the movie. You get a more proportionate perspective on how people - and I do mean everyone, not just people you like - would react to the movie.

Another good example of this is Roger Ebert's review on Silent Hill. In fact, any review of his involving video games, not just video game movies. I loved the Silent Hill adaptation, but obviously, he has a problem against "whiny fanboys" (his "Monster" review), which is fine. But that's his perspective. Doesn't have to do with me, and I certainly couldn't share his sentiment. I could maybe hope to learn from some of that resentment towards video games someday when I get as old as him, but in the end, he had as much right to criticize an underrated movie as I do towards an overrated one (or a popular one; words are fickle).
Title: Re: On Writing
Post by: verbALs on April 08, 2016, 01:27:36 AM
Yes. Plugging yourself into the review, not making the review about you. Individualising, not blowing your own trumpet.
Title: Re: On Writing
Post by: Paul Phoenix on April 08, 2016, 01:32:36 AM
Yes. Plugging yourself into the review, not making the review about you. Individualising, not blowing your own trumpet.

And what's wrong with blowing one's trumpet? People do it all the time on the Internet. Why should I be any different? If it pleases me with such narcissism, then I shall merely do whatever I want, as nauseating as the behavior might be. It's a free Internet.

You have no right to lecture me, especially if you're going to talk about what one should and shouldn't do on the Internet. You said that as if you have some kind of hold over my morality and actions.
Title: Re: On Writing
Post by: verbALs on April 08, 2016, 01:39:00 AM
Yes I have a set of strings attached to you that extend 10, 000 miles and when I yank them you jerk uncontrollably. I have that power.  ;D

And in case you aren't joking. We can be different from the internet can't we.

And if that answer is a little too serious then what I thought I was doing was summarising your thought in agreement. You'll notice I started by saying "yes" but perhaps I should have said "I so completely agree with you".

And if that's too serious then I refer to the top bit which was a joke.

Now have I covered all eventualities? I'm getting lost.

{Beware your young apprentice. He has great power. One day he may rise up to strike you down}
Title: Re: On Writing
Post by: Paul Phoenix on April 08, 2016, 01:46:17 AM
And if that answer is a little too serious then what I thought I was doing was summarising your thought in agreement. You'll notice I started by saying "yes" but perhaps I should have said "I so completely agree with you".

And if that's too serious then I refer to the top bit which was a joke.

Right.

It just seemed a bit odd for me at first that you would talk about blowing your own trumpet in your reply to me, which felt like you were insinuating something. Sorry if I misinterpreted. I defend my pride very closely, clearly enough.

Yes I have a set of strings attached to you that extend 10, 000 miles and when I yank them you jerk uncontrollably. I have that power.  ;D

{Beware your young apprentice. He has great power. One day he may rise up to strike you down}

Yeah, I think the whole striking might be a bit difficult with you yanking my chains. :P
Title: Re: On Writing
Post by: DarkeningHumour on April 08, 2016, 01:46:42 AM
And in case you aren't joking. We can be different from the internet can't we.

I would bloody hell hope so. That is sort of the point of this place.
Title: Re: On Writing
Post by: Paul Phoenix on April 08, 2016, 01:48:13 AM
And in case you aren't joking. We can be different from the internet can't we.

I would bloody hell hope so. That is sort of the point of this place.

Well, the anonymity still causes problems in communication. Clearly enough it's not that different. Still has all its inconveniences and unfortunate circumstance.
Title: Re: On Writing
Post by: DarkeningHumour on April 08, 2016, 01:49:20 AM
No, that's not the only direction you can go, and it might not be what you want to do, so don't do it. It should be noted that I wasn't specifically talking about reviews, which are a different thing than the kind of writing we do in English 1 and 2 (though evaluations are often types of papers we assign). In a review my thesis is often that a film is saying x by y methods and that it is z effective, generally speaking. It's fits into the arguable end of the spectrum nicely (your arguer could say that the film isn't saying what you think it is, or that it is better or worse than you think it is at saying it) and you can mix and match all sorts of things into those three variables and it starts to feel very loose as a kind of framework. Though I have advocated for an individual point of view here and in my class, that is not at the expense of a solid structural foundation. A long and rambling piece will be harder to follow and will lose some of its meaning by its very nature. I guess a short rambling thing would do the same, though not as badly. The formula helps keep me on track and ensures that I touch on everything I want to touch on.

I like everything in this post. Especially the part that sounds like math. You're a weird English teacher. In a good way though.
Title: Re: On Writing
Post by: DarkeningHumour on April 08, 2016, 01:50:19 AM
And in case you aren't joking. We can be different from the internet can't we.

I would bloody hell hope so. That is sort of the point of this place.

Well, the anonymity still causes problems in communication. Clearly enough it's not that different. Still has all its inconveniences and unfortunate circumstance.

Would knowing that verbALs is a 1,92 meters tall blonde athletic figure with an impeccable jaw line help you to discern the tone of his posts ?
Title: Re: On Writing
Post by: Paul Phoenix on April 08, 2016, 01:51:07 AM
And in case you aren't joking. We can be different from the internet can't we.

I would bloody hell hope so. That is sort of the point of this place.

Well, the anonymity still causes problems in communication. Clearly enough it's not that different. Still has all its inconveniences and unfortunate circumstance.

Would knowing that verbALs is a 1,92 meters tall blonde athletic figure with an impeccable jaw line help you to discern the tone of his posts ?

No, but never underestimate the power of facial expressions (and the body language). A friendly smile can chase your blues away.
Title: Re: On Writing
Post by: Junior on April 08, 2016, 01:51:40 AM
 ;D
Title: Re: On Writing
Post by: verbALs on April 08, 2016, 01:52:01 AM
And in case you aren't joking. We can be different from the internet can't we.

I would bloody hell hope so. That is sort of the point of this place.

Well, the anonymity still causes problems in communication. Clearly enough it's not that different. Still has all its inconveniences and unfortunate circumstance.

Yes but what a beautiful example. I don't make myself clear and that's what happens. Again and again. Over and over. One continual misunderstanding.

Firstly, it's cool. It isn't surprising. Its hard enough making myself understood to a woman I've lived with for ......at this point I don't even want to think about it, way past 30 years is close enough. So communicating by this inadequate means between here and Singapore isn't really hard to understand when it goes a little haywire.

But we do actually have the ability to go beyond that and its simple as well. Respect. Everybody takes off their muddy boots trudging through the shit of the internet when they come in here. Screw the internet. Its a mess.

Those that find their way along the rocky path to this sanctuary have proved themselves simply by making the journey. Respect is due.

Quote
Would knowing that verbALs is a 1,92 meters tall blonde athletic figure with an impeccable jaw line help you to discern the tone of his posts ?
4 ft 10 inches with a disfiguring hump and a glass eye.

Quote
You said that as if you have some kind of hold over my morality and actions.
Again because I think it's important to be clear. I don't think I say anything that isn't a personal opinion. I believe that there should a large slice of humility attached to one's opinion, but again that's just an opinion. I KNOW I say things with a very large degree of certainty and strength of feeling, because why would I talk like I lack confidence when I don't. That would be disingenuous of me.

I am sensitive to opinions being stated as if they were facts but I'm annoyed when those opinions are defended as if they were facts. "Hey its just my opinion" has been described as a cop-out but anyone who can't jettison an opinion, for the sake of respecting the conversational process, is revealing themselves as someone who has trouble separating a fact from an opinion attached to too much ego.

No not you Hermit> I'm talking about that horrible internet out there again. Don't let it in. everyone barricade the door.......two planks, TWO PLANKS (and that's about as much juice I'll get out of that film ever again)
Title: Re: On Writing
Post by: DarkeningHumour on April 08, 2016, 01:57:09 AM
I was counting your 2 feet afro.
Title: Re: On Writing
Post by: Paul Phoenix on April 08, 2016, 02:00:17 AM
Those that find their way along the rocky path to this sanctuary have proved themselves simply by making the journey. Respect is due.

You forget trust, which must be earned. :P Same with respect, but respect is a behavior that can be practiced in a mirror and falsified, so earning it is irrelevant. Trust comes from the heart and is a more sincere form of respect.

Respect should be due. It isn't due. A regimental respect for everyone can be learned by anyone with half a brain, but emotional knee-jerks can only be surpassed with trust. And trust is a tricky conjuration.
Title: Re: On Writing
Post by: verbALs on April 08, 2016, 02:04:20 AM
I was counting your 2 feet afro.
Dude
Title: Re: On Writing
Post by: verbALs on April 08, 2016, 02:05:12 AM
Those that find their way along the rocky path to this sanctuary have proved themselves simply by making the journey. Respect is due.

You forget trust, which must be earned. :P Same with respect, but respect is a behavior that can be practiced in a mirror and falsified, so earning it is irrelevant. Trust comes from the heart and is a more sincere form of respect.

Respect should be due. It isn't due. A regimental respect for everyone can be learned by anyone with half a brain, but emotional knee-jerks can only be surpassed with trust. And trust is a tricky conjuration.

Are you lecturing me now. I'm joking. (I'll write "J" after every joke).

Respect is due. I'm not naive. If someone abuses that respect then they can have that respect withdrawn but you can only expect respect if you give it first. Waiting for it is going to be a very long wait.

YES, I'm saying you have to hang your jaw out inviting punches, and if the silly sod is stupid enough to take a swing, then more fool him. I said before that sensitivity is a tough attribute not a soft one.

People deserve respect but its a more cynical process than that. Give it to get it. You have identified the emotional falsity in the process because you are a smart man. But this isn't a "something for nothing" world and you know that as well. You really have to let a guy take a swing at you, to know whether he will take the easy shot or be a real man.

Again, I will indicate this an opinion not a fact. But its an opinion weighed down with experience. Not of schools but of a working life, and what most people would call a tough working life. What most people say when you say you are in sales is "I wouldn't want to do that". (Secret is we sell constantly to each other. We certainly are in a process of negotiation here.)

Quote
You forget trust
Trust? Who can you trust? - Jack Nicholson as The Joker from Batman.
Title: Re: On Writing
Post by: Paul Phoenix on April 08, 2016, 02:12:22 AM
Are you lecturing me now. I'm joking. (I'll write "J" after every joke).

Or you could just stick your tongue out. :P

In example:

I am sensitive to opinions being stated as if they were facts but I'm annoyed when those opinions are defended as if they were facts. "Hey its just my opinion" has been described as a cop-out but anyone who can't jettison an opinion, for the sake of respecting the conversational process, is revealing themselves as someone who has trouble separating a fact from an opinion attached to too much ego.

What did you say?! >:(

J/k. :P A hermit doesn't strike in the same place twice. Or something to that context.

The thing about ego... it goes back to what I said about trust. There's an interesting difference between pride and ego. Having pride in your opinion enough that you would defend them with proper reasoning is different from, well, knee-jerking because you trust your ego over people, which can often be the case with me. I have little reason to trust strangers. I mean, you are god knows how many miles away from me, and isn't related to me by blood, so trusting people whom I've known for barely half a year when all I know about is arguing with others... well, that's just something I have to learn and get used to. Hence why I said that you would be tolerating me for the coming months when I made that long speech about staying here for good some weeks ago.

So yes, being attached to one's ego is bad, but it's not without reason. Understanding each other and our reasons for acting the way we did is the first step to a good relationship.
Title: Re: On Writing
Post by: verbALs on April 08, 2016, 02:15:37 AM
So in the meantime one could use a framework of respect. we all could however long we have been here.

Im not tolerating you. Im enjoying every minute of it.

Now not to bring the Joker convo up again but you are justifying being attached to your ego, and a lot of that is you can't help being ruled by it. The luxury of being 24 we'll call it. I don't have that luxury because I would be a very very stupid 50 year old man if I was just letting my ego off the hook.

An ego is raging beast to be understood more that it is controlled. especially in an age range where your ego is only just fully formed.

I know people feel lectured to when this discussion goes this way. "Respect for one's elders" is a cover old people use to stop young people seeing what old fools they are. I can't help talking with the benefit of experience and my experience should be greater if I haven't lived my life as a hermit (not you hermit, the ......this explaining for clarity is crap isn't it?). I'd like that experience respected but I don't blame anyone for not doing that. I do have a 26 year old son, who talks to me like I'm an idiot. whats funny though, is the older he gets, the smarter I seem to be getting as well.

So I'll take the basic variety of respect that everyone can benefit from. And if anyone thinks they can abuse my respect then they can have a course of me running little circles around them. Its their choice.
Title: Re: On Writing
Post by: DarkeningHumour on April 08, 2016, 02:19:58 AM
Might refraining from reacting too harshly to some comments and taking a taking a deep breath instead not also be a good first step ?
Title: Re: On Writing
Post by: verbALs on April 08, 2016, 02:23:51 AM
Yeah the angry reaction you can type is never anywhere near as interesting or meaningful as the considered reaction that will follow if you let it.

{Do as I say not as I do}
Title: Re: On Writing
Post by: DarkeningHumour on April 08, 2016, 02:28:45 AM
{Do as I say not as I do}

Truer words.
Title: Re: On Writing
Post by: verbALs on April 08, 2016, 02:30:15 AM
Quote
Having pride in your opinion enough that you would defend them with proper reasoning is different from, well, knee-jerking because you trust your ego over people

I wasn't capable of this differentiation at 24. I was already a dad by 24. I wasn't thinking this deeply. I was buying dinner for a baby.

I really envy the journey you can go on if you are starting from such an advanced position at 24.

I've met young men who are as wise as men twice their age (Graham) and I have met old men who never, ever grow up. Age is a bit of an obfuscation. Knowledge is a bit of an obfuscation. Using your knowledge in your life is what wise people do. You don't have to know that much even, but it helps I think.

SO (so always comes out big when I type, I give up changing it, but it looks Shakespearean.....SO!!) DH lets apply that to noir. You have a basic education that you have admitted. Yet it appears you want to use that knowledge to make some substantive points about the subject. I don't blame you. The reaction you get though is a little along the lines of "do you really know enough to talk about this substantively". Nobody is accusing you of ignorance, but they are wondering whether your opinion is informed enough at this point to make larger more substantive points on a subject. If your reaction to that then is "I can have an opinion if I want" that's completely correct but kind of goes without needing to be said, in this house of respect. You see my point? I can talk around a lot of subjects but if I said "Ozu sounds really boring" well spot the weakness in my argument considering I haven't seen an Ozu just heard a lot of talk about him. You can argue but who wants to argue weakly. You said you are argumentative. Its a case of choosing the argument selectively. By arguing you will definitely advance your knowledge or understanding of a subject. It can always be worthwhile but, I think (opinion) I've explained that knowing how informed your opinion is (knowing where you are at all times) really should affect which arguments you take on and with whom.

Now I have a literary view on noir. Martin has a cinematic/ academic authority on the subject. Our definitions are completely at odds. We wouldn't even be able to agree on dates for noir. We do not need to agree. A dialectic might form out of a really intense arguments between us (or 1SO or PA) on the subject but agree? Nonsense. Poppycock. Balderdash. I'm looking at the dialectic as a route to an advancement in knowledge, I'm looking at respect as what the path to that enlightenment is paved with. So I hope I was just respectful to you and your point of view.

But has anyone seen "Sorry Wrong Number". what a strong movie. Stanwyck in bed for an hour! magic.
Title: Re: On Writing
Post by: verbALs on April 08, 2016, 02:58:13 AM
So what is the point of this exchange?

To me the point is that I learned a lot and organised my thoughts and informed my thoughts. By writing them down. I can now delete everything I wrote but it would make the conversation look weird. This level of discussion makes me a lot sharper mentally. I've got a job interview. I'll be a lot sharper for having this discussion this morning. So I appreciate the chat, because I'm going to go out and use the knowledge to make my life gooder. You cannot leave what you learn in a drawer.
Title: Re: On Writing
Post by: Paul Phoenix on April 08, 2016, 03:05:14 AM
I've moved our discussion here since it's diverted from writing:
http://www.filmspotting.net/forum/index.php?topic=9422.msg833246#msg833246
Title: Re: On Writing
Post by: DarkeningHumour on April 08, 2016, 03:05:48 AM
I am not sure why we are discussing noir here, but the characteristics I mentioned were provided by the podcast and things I read here. I compared them to whatever movies I have watched, but my those points came mainly from outside sources which I trust.
Title: Re: On Writing
Post by: verbALs on April 08, 2016, 03:11:07 AM
Yes I really did cover that in my Ozu example. As for outside sources, a good citation is always a good idea. The conversation on outside sources was a long exhaustive one in this thread. I'm happy to cite that. My opinion was clear, I feel.
Title: Re: On Writing
Post by: DarkeningHumour on April 08, 2016, 04:39:07 AM
In fact, whereas I am far from being a noir specialist, I have at least watched a few movies, while you have seen no Ozus at all from what you say. Not quite the same situation.
Title: Re: On Writing
Post by: verbALs on April 08, 2016, 10:54:15 AM
No. You are absolutely correct. It isn't the same. I wouldn't talk about Ozu at all. I'm waiting for someone to say something about Ozu that would make me take an interest. In the case of noir you are prepared to make really large declarative statements like noir isn't funny ever and then admit you don't really know much about it. So what I'm suggesting is that the size of the statement should match in some way the size of the educated view you possess. Otherwise, it may be construed that one is shouting very loud, with a perverse pride in the utter lack of one's knowledge. Because we have a phrase for all occasions here, we would call it being all mouth and no trousers.

I stated that you had already admitted you knew very little on the subject. Whilst you don't have to answer every point made, what you should do, from a point of view of respect, is at least, take into account what has already been said to you. Yes I know you don't know much about noir because I said that. If you go this route in conversation, it will end up looking like a dog chasing its tail. Going bloody nowhere. But it will at least be really loud on the journey. That combination of noise and ignorance is a bloody curse on the world generally and on the internet specifically. Remove your muddy boots and don't drag that mess in with you.
Title: Re: On Writing
Post by: MartinTeller on April 08, 2016, 10:59:58 AM
Ooh, don't get me started on noir. I'll be here all day. (to quickly address the issue of High and Low, which came up in top 100 club... it doesn't fit my (loose) definition of "film noir", but I do think it has strong noir elements: expressive cinematography, questioning the power structure, exploration of ethics and morality,  police procedural)

But has anyone seen "Sorry Wrong Number". what a strong movie. Stanwyck in bed for an hour! magic.

I enjoyed it but wasn't enthused. Could stand to watch it again. Look at this review (https://martinteller.wordpress.com/2010/05/29/sorry-wrong-number/). This is the kind of zero-effort writing I did for most of the life of my blog.
Title: Re: On Writing
Post by: verbALs on April 08, 2016, 11:02:06 AM
Thank god and I'm glad you're here Martin. No I don't think of High and Low as noir. I think of Stray Dog and The Bad Sleep Well as noir.

I'm going to quote you but I'll remove it if you don't like me doing it;

Sorry Wrong Number
Quote
So-so suspense.  The bulk of it is told in flashback, sometimes flashbacks within flashbacks.  From Barbara Stanwyck’s point of view, almost every piece of information is gleaned from the telephone, which often becomes an instrument of menace.  The film is heavy on exposition and light on tension, but has some interesting plot developments and a satisfying conclusion.  One’s sympathies shift as we see Stanwyck and Lancaster from the perspectives of other characters.  Stanwyck’s performance isn’t that great, but it has a fun campy edge to it.

I pasted it because I wanted to ask. Were you in a heavy phase of film-watching so the review serves as a placeholder in your memory more than an actual review? This belongs in this thread and your vast experience of film -writing needs to be part of this conversation, from my point of view.
Title: Re: On Writing
Post by: smirnoff on April 09, 2016, 11:06:54 PM
I'm just gonna go relax for a while complaining about the cliche writing of OUAT and Grimm; at least I know what to expect there. Don't get me wrong, I love such insightful discussions about films, but watching films made by such great artists can leave you drained, not to mention being reminded of the intimidating notion that I'm going to have to slave myself on another long passage review for several hours yet again.

That looming obligation would make any film draining, not just films of renown. In fact, I bet if you flip the script for a month and only slave yourself on films without reputations, and write nothing at all about "great" films, you'll find that you dread watching another throwaway title but you're able to plow through the heavy hitters with ease. Consider it an experiment in self-sabotage. :)
Title: Re: On Writing
Post by: Paul Phoenix on April 09, 2016, 11:19:52 PM
That looming obligation would make any film draining, not just films of renown. In fact, I bet if you flip the script for a month and only slave yourself on films without reputations, and write nothing at all about "great" films, you'll find that you dread watching another throwaway title but you're able to plow through the heavy hitters with ease. Consider it an experiment in self-sabotage. :)

I'm glad somebody paid heed to my question earlier. ;D Thanks, smirnoff.

Yes, that seems like quite a pleasant experiment, quite pleasant indeed, tee, hee, hee. *strokes my curled mustache in delight* It might actually make me marathon 12 great films in a row, haha.

I'm going to take a rain check on that experiment for now, but thanks for bringing up that suggestion. It would definitely be helpful in the coming tides of movie marathons. I'm gonna have to find a series of mundane films to talk about though, and find something interesting to talk about no less. Like alchemy, no matter how I force it, I can't just write something out of nothing. That's the First Law of Equivalent Exchange. ;D

Might be fun to write about the explosions and describe the gore-props used in horror movies for a change, I guess. Maybe just take a vacation from intellectual analysis and just ramble on about the more superficial aspects of the film, like Arnold's biceps and Stallone's never-changing accent.
Title: Re: On Writing
Post by: verbALs on April 10, 2016, 01:43:39 AM
The place of persuasion in writing about films.

I assume every movie I see will eventually attract opinions of every single colour of the spectrum. From hate to adoration. Give it enough time and you will read everything in between about any movie. Any. I assume that.

Whether a person will read what you write and go and see a movie, when viewed in that light is interesting. If someone keys into what you think is good about a film, won't have any affect on how they respond themselves to a movie. There's can argument that could be made that raising expectations can only have a negative effect on the later viewer. I think I could come up with positive effects of positive reviewing that match and cancel that argument. So I prefer to think of it, that the convincing review won't affect the view of the later audience in any way, up or down.

What I'm thinking is that the persuasive piece of writing may help make up a person's mind to go the pictures, but it won't help the film get a positive opinion. I know that sounds obvious cos common sense, but you have to embrace that idea that opinions fill out the spectrum every time.

Have I just written in favour of never writing another word? The evidence from my own pen would suggest otherwise. Its the gentle art of persuasion that is under question.

If you write with that intention in mind, do you also write with the thought that you might be persuading someone to waste their valuable time? You aren't responsible for anyone else's actions true. Yet, writing to persuade must have its own motive. You like being influential, is a really cool reason. Its not on your head that they might hate the film and that might be as likely as them liking the film, again if you follow my reasoning about the nature of opinion.

I have all these personal reasons for writing that I've explained. I have now seen 4 great films this week. Midnight Special's trailer changed and it started to look like the thriller that it turned out to be. If a film looks convincing as a thriller through my eyes, then I'm going to run to it.

I expect people to hate Midnight Special. I expect people who know what Nichols has the potential to create to deny him three times before the cock crows. I have to believe that law about opinions in all things. I can see how persuasively or convincingly I appear to be writing about it; so if I was to persuade someone to go and see it, I would be equally convinced that they might come back and call me an idiot.

You can write convincingly by being enthusiastic. The non-fakeability of enthusiasm actually takes away any intent. You can't help sounding convincing because you are so convinced yourself. Pure feeling. Truth. The subjective variety.

I thought I'd explore the subject to my satisfaction because I'm enthusing about a film so hard right now. I might expect the next guy in to question my sanity, and then ow do I react? Equally as personally? Not in this house of mutual respect. Or do I blandly state "hey you're entitled to your opinion man"!

Well hopefully that discussion would start with a review. A statement of belief. The review may indicate how viewer two has seen the movie differently from viewer one. The difference in perspective is a given. It is inevitable. What we miss whilst we become disinterested is a good indication and actually a really good place for a bit of the old dialectic. Agreeing on what we see in a film. Interstellar lost me at the point one astronaut explained what a wormhole looks like to another astronaut who was ill in astronaut school the day they did wormholes (no of course- its Nolan explaining it to the audience cos he likes explaining non-sequitur points). After that the old power of love stuff wasn't really washing with me.

The point (he's got a point everybody!). Persuasive writing can suggest an investment of emotion in the reviewer, when the next guy trashes on the film, and suggests a personal problem with the first reviewer. That turning point, pivotal point where it gets personal? Can still be pulled back from. The suggestion of personal deficiency may be implied by reviewer 2 but then again that suggestion may be inferred by the sensitive reviewer 1. Or it could be smoothed by examining whether there's room for a joint solution so that at least both people agree they saw the same film. And if someone wants to keep it personal, well then the discussion can die choking on its own dust. Now who wants that?
Title: Re: On Writing
Post by: verbALs on April 10, 2016, 02:17:24 AM
The idea of writing less because you have a busy life is understandable. Actually it's inevitable. It's ironic that a thread called "On Writing" may attract comments like "write less". I mean it's understandable. But ironic.
Title: Re: On Writing
Post by: Paul Phoenix on April 10, 2016, 02:41:55 AM
It's not really about being busy though, to clarify. I've got all the time in the world being a hermit. It's more about what you invest in life. I enjoy writing analytical reviews, but to a degree. It's kinda like jogging or teaching or any other form of activity you enjoy doing, but maybe not everyday. The brain is a muscle too, and it needs to relax, brah.
Title: Re: On Writing
Post by: verbALs on April 10, 2016, 02:51:17 AM
Apologies. I should be clearer. Noffs a very busy bunny. It's a pleasure to see him put the Cacophony Derby together given his commitments. I think he's building an entire town. In the evenings and his days off.
Title: Re: On Writing
Post by: Paul Phoenix on April 10, 2016, 03:19:15 AM
So what's your take on the act of daily writing, verbALs? Do you think daily analysis is something you can clock in everyday? Probably the wrong guy to ask, considering your username (which is meant to rhyme with verbose, as in verbosity, right?). I've always felt it's a good name, considering the lengthy posts you're willing to commit towards.

On a side note, I don't think it's ironic at all. To talk about writing, it's inevitable that we talk about not writing. I would even say it's important we talk about it to understand the drive behind a writer's hand.
Title: Re: On Writing
Post by: smirnoff on April 10, 2016, 03:24:54 AM
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What is the  use of sharing great words in great quantities if nobody reads them?

Because you as the writer benefit from the formation of the thought that went into the construction of the sentences and paragraphs.

You certainly can't beg for people to read what you write can you? You can, in fact, have no expectation of it at all. You can be nice to other people and scratch their backs so they scratch yours, but when they say how great your writing is, are they responding to that piece or are they making sure they get their back scratched down the line? If the thought of how you feel about a film actually starts to develop so it more closely matches the sophistication of the film, by even 1 tenth of one percent then that's an important development.

So you noff want people to write about films in a way that is completely acceptable to you and that suits you. Now let's keep this between you and me. Lets say were the only ones here. I will promise to write in the form that you like from now on. So Ive promised to do something for you. That sounds like we have a deal but a one sided one. So naturally I have to ask, what are you going to do for me? Then we will have a proper deal. I can send you my paypal details and we'll start negotiations at Ł50 a review. Then I'll write in the form that you like. Its an example of "do we act as individuals?" or are we serving something else? I said firstly that I grow as a film watcher by writing exactly what suits me to write without any concern for who is reading;

1) filmspotting is a small place to write
2) plenty of people have complained and been put off by a lack of response to their reviews

Now both reasons beg for an answer: why write on this forum? I just gave you my answer to that question. when Lobby asked the question (she was observing the lack of response to her reviews sometimes, even though she was extremely well liked here), I thought about why I was doing it and came up with this answer. Now its my answer not anybody else's but at least I have a very strong coherent answer that I can work with. Again I'd be fascinated to hear other people's answers.

Whiplash- he's made up his mind his drumming won't be any better if people like him. He determines in a way he feels he has learnt from Charlie Parker that people will like his work because it will be legendary and they will have little choice. They'll hate him but still KNOW he is legend. Im talking about the film not me, but its a great dramatic example of whether people want to play popularity contests like those two brothers in the high school football team or not.

Noff as ever you are an excellent lightening rod and Im glad you are around more.

Well cheers for that. I put it to you because I know you'll rise to the occasion, and you have. Now then, I've given thought to yours and am in most sensible agreement with it. I too get much out of "the formation of the thought that went into the construction of the sentences and paragraphs". In this very discussion as much as any review. Perhaps more! These existential musings get to the creamy filling directly.

But now that you've established the virtues of writing for one's own pleasure (which I quite relate to), what do you find are the virtues of sharing said writing? You've made the case for writing, for fuelling your own fire, absent an audience. Why not take it offline altogether? You do not live or die by the number of responses you get to your writing, and yet it is here, so there must also be some additional pleasure derived from the sharing. Could you speak to that pleasure? And being a pleasure, do you not also find it as worthy of honing one's writing skills to cut more deeply in that direction as the other?

Translation: 50 bucks!? What am I, Richard Gere? You certainly ain't no pretty woman. :))



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But I should play the game here and actually answer the question you are asking me (instead of answering the one I want to answer  ;D)

The example of Tree of Life........is a terrible example. I wrote about Jubal the other day. I think I was sufficiently clear that I bloody love that movie. I wrote about The Night Manager in those pithy tones ya like s'much. ToL the first time? Maybe next time. I watched it and gave my reaction. My reaction was to speak in terms of the film I just watched which is uniquely attempting to say something directly about Life the Universe and Everything. And I barely got that from the film the first time through. Give me a chance will'ya. I thought I did fine getting as far as I did.

No movie that spends 3 minutes filming a baby's foot, and then another 3 minutes on some stained glass, and then more time on a tree's branches is saying anything directly. Now on the other hand, if you had two astronauts sit down with some paper and a sharpie and work out the concept in 30 seconds and carried on with your movie, that would be direct. :)) What do you like so much about ToL's vaguely suggested concepts that take ages to wordlessly hint at? (If you think that is an unfair description of the film please say so, because to my memory that is it precisely.) Is what's being hinted at really so complex it could not be presented with more economy? Is a graspable idea inferior to a unreachable one? Aren't ToL's ideas just as far out as Interstellar's... but because Interstellar is plain, it is stupid? The difference in what's being explored may be negligible, but you prefer one presentation over another. Is it madness to try and understand that? If it is, then I'm talking to the right person. :)

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If someone wrote the three line review that you suggest about Tree of Life, how exactly would that help you (YOU YOU YOU its all about you innit?)? You might get a good strong feeling whether they like or don't. Terrific. Now you know the film has its charms well-guarded don't you? So you know three lines isn't going to peel back those heavy velvet curtains and teach you the hidden mysteries of Malick. Or maybe I'm assuming too much. Show me a review of ToL that does that. I appreciate your disappointment that I didn't  do it and I appreciate that you think I might actually be up to the task (I don't see you asking anyone else here to explain it  ;D). I got as far as grasping the tone of the movie and how that might communicate a message. I wrote about the tone created by Malick's method. Seriously what do you want for free. This ain't my job...I jest. Seriously (coolly) it might come together much better next time (if there is a next time). I might get somewhere more in the neighbourhood of what you like in a review. I'll bear it in mind because you and Sandy are the only people who have admitted they read what I write, and you is my peoples. But give Malick a little credit too. Its appropriate to say what I did that Malick really isn't that bothered what you or I think of his film. He could never have conceived such an idea with the average cinema going joe in mind. Could he? He's got some highfalutin' ideas that guy. I praise his ambition and the fact he has a method that allows him to explore such spiritual concepts. I kind of wrote about his method and nothing much else.

I tend to get that feeling also, that Malick isn't bothered what you or I think. That bothers me. I mean who knows if it's even true, but pretenedinig it is... in a filmmaker that bothers me. It doesn't even matter though. As you say, every film will receive the full spectrum of reactions. So ToL will find it's audience one way or another. There's an audience for literally everything. But you liked it and I didn't, and I think there's gotta be a way to draw a mental map of how to get from here to there. But that is a particular type of beating your head against the wall writing. If you enjoy seeing others enjoy what you enjoy, and do not believe the effort is futile, than such writing can be a worthy endeavour. Maybe? That's a lot of ifs. :)

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I admit I actually tried to write a review which matched the tone of the film I watched. would it be fair to say that your reaction to what I wrote was in the emotional ballpark of your reaction to Malick's film? Cos I was kind of aiming for that. The spirit of Malick imbues me. I'm imbued, noff. I'm imbued with some special spirit. It's not a religious feeling at all. It's a shocking eruption of great electrical energy. I feel vivid and flashing, as if suddenly I'd been plugged into some great electromagnetic field. I feel connected to all living things. To flowers, birds, all the animals of the world. And even to some great, unseen, living force. What I think the Hindus call prana. But it's not a breakdown. I've never felt more orderly in my life. It is a shattering and beautiful sensation. It is the exalted flow of the space-time continuum, save that it is spaceless and timeless and... of such loveliness. I feel on the verge of some great, ultimate truth.

unquote. If only we could live by movie quote alone. Lovely. The last bit was Paddy Chayefsky. One should credit one's betters. I mean all the guy's doing is talking about how he feels. (https://i.imgur.com/ErpMtYH.gif)

Oh you're imbued alright. I'm here to help though. The power of Nolan compels you! :)

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But mate when I watch a film now I feel imbued. I feel the power and spirit of the film. I feel very connected. I let the film tell me. I am certifiable. I am the film whisperer. They whisper to me. If there's a disconnect between where I'm at and what you like from film reviews I understand that but I understand it as a development in my writing and you don't write so much because you reached the top and had to stop. In other words you were satisfied with that more basic way of reviewing films. I mean you are satisfied aren't you? Like I say you don't write so much which is a pity. You just challenged me in a way that is frustratingly rare. In depth, with incredible consideration and as respectfully as ever. You pinned me to the board and dissected me. I hope I was up to the standard of the challenge you set me.

Most of my lack of writing stems from my lack of movie watching, which stems from other time consuming projects, but even before that all happened, I'll admit to feeling limited by the format. Or seeing other formats providing even greater benefit I should say (focused conversations over reviews). I mean I've tried writing every which way about a movie over the years, and generally speaking, whatever the format, the more hours I put into a project the more satisfied I am with it. It gets to the point though that if there's a film I want to explore, I don't even want to start if I can't commit to going all the way. But if you don't have time to dive head first into a big project, and all you want to do is a big project, it kind of leads to no writing at all. :)) One day I'll have time again.
Title: Re: On Writing
Post by: verbALs on April 10, 2016, 03:52:50 AM
Noff I hear what you say I'm coming back to it. I thought the length of my reply might have lost your interest so I'm pleased at your investment in time in replying at all. I'll point you towards what I just wrote about the personal benefits of persuading people that partially answers your question about taking the whole thing offline. But the full answer is.....fuller. So I'm coming back to it.

Hermit. I get up I want to write to wake me up. America is just falling asleep so it's you and me mate for a while. No routine cos if there's nothing to say then there'is nothing to say. But there always is and more so everyday. The conversation snowballs. If one lets it. I do have the time that others don't. I'm in a very lucky position but it's the weekend so we all have more time anyway. It depends whether writing is the pleasure it is for me or a chore that I can infer from your question. No chore at all. And I don't think you find it a chore either. Perhaps you think the words will dry up. Why? Art is infinite. The subjects are endless and the subjects roll into life issues (as we are aware). Time and family and all that is the limiting factor and my partner is getting a little irritated with me constantly tapping on my phone instead of attending to her in the majestic manner to which she is accustomed. I am compelled to write. The forum is perfect. Actually I might have answered smirnoffs key point circumstancially. I want to share this joy. I have no right to expect anybody to read or reply to what is written so I have to maintain the hard shell of writing as if it's a vacuum. I have no expectation and that's healthy. Bondo wonders about stimulating an audience with a writing that draws responses. I think replies will come or they won't. I should probably write interestingly if I want a response. And if I don't get a response my first reaction is maybe I should have said something worth replying to. My second response is hey people are busy I can't expect anybody to even see this post especially if the storm of list making pushes it off the first ten pages in five minutes. We live in an imperfect world but live in it we must. Not wish for stuff that won't happen. I write. I write here. I support the forum by writing here. It doesn't need to be any more complicated than that.

Noff we had this massive conversation about Interstellar. I just want to check you want to now do a compare and contrast on ToL versus Nolans film. I can kick it off by saying Malick truly is trying to make a LtUandE movie but Nolan wasn't. I said Kubrick wasnt and Adams wasn't so why should Nolan? Malick tried it. I'm not sure I said he succeeded. But ToL is not an exemplar of anything. Only Hiroshima mon amour attempts anything so life encompassing for me. I kind of hope you do want to have this discussion. It'll be epic.
Title: Re: On Writing
Post by: verbALs on April 10, 2016, 04:22:10 AM
Let's play agent provocateur for a moment. Rather than asking me why I write when my compulsion is evident to everyone; why not ask what stops others? Outside the obvious time issues. It makes more sense to ask that. The reason I ask though is the journey always begins with a single step. An answer like I'm not confident writing is like a baby saying I'm not good at walking before the first step is taken. It gets better. Anyone slamming for poor grammar or spelling should remember the sign above the door that this is a house of respect take off your muddy boots and don't drag the Internet in here, thanks.

It's a clean slate. Blank every time you press "reply" and there is no wrong answer since these are simply opinions that should be respected. I'm the guy who said nothing from 2006 till 2010.
Title: Re: On Writing
Post by: Paul Phoenix on April 10, 2016, 04:47:16 AM
Well, as I've shared earlier, I simply lack that convulsion, that motivation. There are shinier things in life that distract me from just sitting down and write continuously. I like to keep things fresh and interesting in life, especially when I'm still young and sprightly, so I'll be caught in multiple hobbies at once, not just writing and analyzing.

And as I said, the brain is a muscle. Over-thinking can be tiring. It really comes down to a matter of motivation and laziness.
Title: Re: On Writing
Post by: verbALs on April 10, 2016, 07:24:49 AM
Are you implying that I'm attached to my phone or am I inferring it?

I've got things to do coming out of my ears. None of this writing takes very long.

The writing as all fed by watching films, reading books and listening to songs. I'd put them in the order songs, books, movies.

I've been playing chess for an hour. Not particularly well but....

I'm making dinner at the same time.

My big preoccupation is football over all this other stuff and if I hadn't damaged my foot a while back I'd rather do that than anything.

My family and friends are a big deal to me.

I'm trying to paint a picture that this stuff isn't something to make a big deal out of.

Essentially we are talking about life, using the movie as a mirror of life. Not the other way round. All the other stuff feeds the experience.

If you stop writing go out and "snort life" the way David O Russell explains the concept then that would be  a better idea if all this time writing feels like its sucking to much time. Prioritise being with people above any solitary activity. And I mean any.

I need to make Cauliflower Cheese it takes a while. Must fly.

I think the convulsions come later.
Title: Re: On Writing
Post by: Paul Phoenix on April 10, 2016, 08:57:24 AM
I'm pretty sure you're inferring, again. :P I might blow things out of proportion often, but verbALs my friend - and I mean this in a friendly way, so don't get me wrong - but you can really get the wrong idea sometimes. ;D I wasn't implying anything.

I was essentially trying to make a very simple point. That I like to write, but I like to relax my brain from writing and thinking. I hate to sound like a broken record, but I really can't think of a better comparison than jogging. Lots of people love to jog but they obviously don't do it all the time. Heck, they might even decide to skip a jogging session from their routine and catch a Michael Bay movie for two weeks, just settle down and relax the muscle, not take things too seriously. I wasn't implying that you prioritize writing above real life. I was stating that I, myself, don't make priorities out of anything. There are no absolutes in my life, and certainly not writing for two months straight without a break. I love breaks in routine. Keeps things fresh.

Yeah, I know it's probably a pretty mundane point that probably isn't really worth repeating. Everyone takes a break now and then. But you asked, verbALs, about what stops me from writing. And my answer is a straightforward and simple one. Pretty much everything in life. Music. Smelling the roses. YouTube videos. Anime. Books. Visual novels. More anime.

Interesting that you should mention about prioritizing being with people above any solitary activity though. Again, not a priority in my life. Hanging out with friends, with Filmspotters, I prioritize such activities as my mood takes me. And my mood is one fickle freak. :(
Title: Re: On Writing
Post by: verbALs on April 10, 2016, 09:12:59 AM
That's totally cool. Me too. We are as one. Islands in the stream. That is what we are.

Like I heard Adam and Josh talk about Midnigght Special. I heard BBC radio talk to Emily Blunt and review Midnight Special. I heard a debate on BBC 1 about whether the Bible or Shakespeare was more relevant in modern life. And I heard Little Richard talking and playing songs for an hour. Whilst I wrote and played chess and made dinner. This morning. I don't think I adequately describe how full my life is....on a day off.

I should offer a bit of perspective. Because I'm a certain age the concept of exercising your brain is very important to me. As much as cycling is to the body (I forgot to say I cycle).  One time there was an ad on this about an older guy playing chess to keep his brain active. I believe that completely. Your point about relaxing from that exercise, I don't think is what you mean. Variety is the spice of life. I think that's what you mean and I think I said that already. Relax when you are asleep but fill every second with all the fine things life has to offer. Snort life. Just saying how I feel about it. Personal opinion.
Title: Re: On Writing
Post by: verbALs on April 10, 2016, 11:25:08 AM
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Malick isn't bothered what you or I think. That bothers me. I mean who knows if it's even true, but pretenedinig it is... in a filmmaker that bothers me. It doesn't even matter though. As you say, every film will receive the full spectrum of reactions. So ToL will find it's audience one way or another. There's an audience for literally everything. But you liked it and I didn't, and I think there's gotta be a way to draw a mental map of how to get from here to there. But that is a particular type of beating your head against the wall writing. If you enjoy seeing others enjoy what you enjoy, and do not believe the effort is futile, than such writing can be a worthy endeavour. Maybe? That's a lot of ifs. :)
So I'm wondering whether there's an approach that could be taken. You didn't like ToL and let's assume I did. Now I don't have your review. Let's though call a review an initial statement of ... Belief. Something to standby. We would both know how we feel from our reviews. I think we could easily discuss each other's PoV through the reviews and come up with all sorts of shared understanding. Somewhere between your belief and mine. A consensus. We could even do it about Interstellar & ToL. This would be the dialectic I mentioned. A joint belief arrived at because we simply believe it's possible to do. Now that would be beyond straightforward opinion. I am looking for the next step. This might be the next step. Dunno it would need trying.
Title: Re: On Writing
Post by: oldkid on April 10, 2016, 06:14:52 PM
It was a short comment at the end of a page, so it's easy to miss.  But it's important to note:

I quit reviewing films here when two posters of real ability stated that a film review is inadequate when one states whether or not one liked the film and why.  After that I was too intimidated to post another review because that was all I had to say about the films I watched.

In order to encourage good writing, the first thing we must do is encourage people to write.  To declare someone's writing as inadequate, or covering too little, or to degrade someone's opinion is, I believe, the opposite of what we should be doing on this forum.  Saltine, I am ashamed that you had this experience.  Not that I made that statement, but that no one defended you.

I believe it was Verite who posted pics of hands and eyes for Bresson's film, with no comment.  Some wanted to erase his responses, even though they were insightful.  They were without literary merit, but they were worth thinking about.   So we argued about it, some defending the right to express thoughts without words.

Why shouldn't we defend those whose reviews are simple?  Some give groups of one sentence reviews, and while there may not be much to respond to, we seem to have no problem with that.  Lobby was put off because sometimes no one would respond to her reviews.  I have felt the same thing.  But at this point, there have been many, many reviews I wanted to respond to and found that I had no energy to do it.  Digital dysfunction, caused by brain fatigue. 

I love the fact that verbals and others are constantly encouraging and even challenging us to write with more detail and better.  But that love ceases when I no longer have the ability to respond.  When I have given my all, and my all is deemed inadequate, that is not encouragement.  It might feel better to drop out of the race if one can no longer compete.

But the forums are not a competition.  We are not here to meet a minimum standard, nor are we to match what some might think is a "real" review.  I've seen some people make some silly statements here on the forum.  For instance, that a "real" review comments on cinematography.  This isn't film school, although I learn a lot about film here. 

In my opinion, we are here to appreciate each other and what we have to share.  If we don't appreciate it, we let it pass by.  Or if we are unable to express our appreciation adequately, we can lurk or give a one word response.  It's up to us.

I want to encourage verbals to continue to challenge me to be more specific, to answer his questions.  He and others have drawn out of me better opinions and better writing by their challenges.  But I think we should all be sensitive to the community and that not everyone is ready to be challenged, and no one should be graded on their writing, or on what they wish to write about.

Saltine, I really hope you would pick up reviewing again.  I want to know your opinion.  We don't hear it, either on the podcast or on the forum, despite the hard work you put into both.  Please, as you feel stirred by a film, let us know.  I really want to hear.
Title: Re: On Writing
Post by: verbALs on April 10, 2016, 06:44:07 PM
Hear, hear. Or here here! ;D

Well said. I said earlier Sandy got caught in a similar unfairness that you referred to and she was a new member then.

Challenges? Like bondo said originally there's no obligation to reply at all, if you choose. And no hidden pressure either; just mutual consent. I will try even harder to make direct questions enquiring rather than a direct challenge. That's the challenge I want. To be able to write better and there are so many ways to be clearer about what I mean; especially being from a different country.

A constant encouraging tone.
Title: Re: On Writing
Post by: oneaprilday on April 10, 2016, 07:15:28 PM
Saltine, I really hope you would pick up reviewing again.  I want to know your opinion.  We don't hear it, either on the podcast or on the forum, despite the hard work you put into both.  Please, as you feel stirred by a film, let us know.  I really want to hear.
I've always wondered why you don't post more reviews, saltine, and it makes me terribly sad that you've felt inadequate! Please, post some reviews! Like oldkid, I would love to know what you think. I value it.
Title: Re: On Writing
Post by: saltine on April 10, 2016, 07:55:52 PM
I'm going on a bit of hiatus from the forum, as I'll be traveling without my computer. 

I'll watch a movie when I return and let you know if I liked it and why.   ;D

Thanks for the concern, but no big deal.  It was a random comment (but true).
Title: Re: On Writing
Post by: ses on April 10, 2016, 09:25:34 PM
Yeah, I don't post many reviews for that same reason really. I write a lot in my job, but I'm a scientist, and scientific writing is a very specific type of writing, and I'm very good and well versed in the skill of scientific writing. For me, it doesn't necessarily come in handy when trying to write a well thought out film review. My reviews typically are "this is what I liked, this is what I didn't like and why", which has been deemed uninteresting or useless by some around here.
Title: Re: On Writing
Post by: oldkid on April 10, 2016, 09:37:40 PM
Ses, your writing is great.  I always appreciate your point of view.  Anyone who says otherwise is crazy and wrong.

And saltine, I know you're busy.  But almost all of us are interested in hearing your perspective.

But dang, gals, we need more women writing, even a little! 
Title: Re: On Writing
Post by: oneaprilday on April 10, 2016, 11:19:09 PM
I'll watch a movie when I return and let you know if I liked it and why.   ;D
Yay! :)


Yeah, I don't post many reviews for that same reason really. I write a lot in my job, but I'm a scientist, and scientific writing is a very specific type of writing, and I'm very good and well versed in the skill of scientific writing. For me, it doesn't necessarily come in handy when trying to write a well thought out film review. My reviews typically are "this is what I liked, this is what I didn't like and why", which has been deemed uninteresting or useless by some around here.
I always appreciate your reviews - to the point and clear! They are most definitely not uninteresting or useless. Please post more. :)
Title: Re: On Writing
Post by: smirnoff on April 10, 2016, 11:29:27 PM
Noff I hear what you say I'm coming back to it. I thought the length of my reply might have lost your interest so I'm pleased at your investment in time in replying at all.

And I'll be back to respond again, time permitting. Lots of great writing/thinking prompts in this thread. I don't want to pass over anything. :)
Title: Re: On Writing
Post by: Bondo on April 11, 2016, 12:07:39 AM
I mostly appreciate saltine's review of Cosmopolis. ;D
Title: Re: On Writing
Post by: verbALs on April 11, 2016, 12:23:22 AM
Noff I hear what you say I'm coming back to it. I thought the length of my reply might have lost your interest so I'm pleased at your investment in time in replying at all.

And I'll be back to respond again, time permitting. Lots of great writing/thinking prompts in this thread. I don't want to pass over anything. :)
I'm glad it makes you feel that way.
Title: Re: On Writing
Post by: DarkeningHumour on April 11, 2016, 01:39:15 AM
It was a short comment at the end of a page, so it's easy to miss.  But it's important to note:

I quit reviewing films here when two posters of real ability stated that a film review is inadequate when one states whether or not one liked the film and why.  After that I was too intimidated to post another review because that was all I had to say about the films I watched.

In order to encourage good writing, the first thing we must do is encourage people to write.  To declare someone's writing as inadequate, or covering too little, or to degrade someone's opinion is, I believe, the opposite of what we should be doing on this forum.  Saltine, I am ashamed that you had this experience.  Not that I made that statement, but that no one defended you.

I believe it was Verite who posted pics of hands and eyes for Bresson's film, with no comment.  Some wanted to erase his responses, even though they were insightful.  They were without literary merit, but they were worth thinking about.   So we argued about it, some defending the right to express thoughts without words.

Why shouldn't we defend those whose reviews are simple?  Some give groups of one sentence reviews, and while there may not be much to respond to, we seem to have no problem with that.  Lobby was put off because sometimes no one would respond to her reviews.  I have felt the same thing.  But at this point, there have been many, many reviews I wanted to respond to and found that I had no energy to do it.  Digital dysfunction, caused by brain fatigue. 

I love the fact that verbals and others are constantly encouraging and even challenging us to write with more detail and better.  But that love ceases when I no longer have the ability to respond.  When I have given my all, and my all is deemed inadequate, that is not encouragement.  It might feel better to drop out of the race if one can no longer compete.

But the forums are not a competition.  We are not here to meet a minimum standard, nor are we to match what some might think is a "real" review.  I've seen some people make some silly statements here on the forum.  For instance, that a "real" review comments on cinematography.  This isn't film school, although I learn a lot about film here. 

In my opinion, we are here to appreciate each other and what we have to share.  If we don't appreciate it, we let it pass by.  Or if we are unable to express our appreciation adequately, we can lurk or give a one word response.  It's up to us.

I want to encourage verbals to continue to challenge me to be more specific, to answer his questions.  He and others have drawn out of me better opinions and better writing by their challenges.  But I think we should all be sensitive to the community and that not everyone is ready to be challenged, and no one should be graded on their writing, or on what they wish to write about.

Saltine, I really hope you would pick up reviewing again.  I want to know your opinion.  We don't hear it, either on the podcast or on the forum, despite the hard work you put into both.  Please, as you feel stirred by a film, let us know.  I really want to hear.

Hear hear.
Title: Re: On Writing
Post by: DarkeningHumour on April 11, 2016, 01:42:08 AM
which has been deemed uninteresting or useless by some around here.

This, in the very least, is brutishly ungentlemanly. Please don't anyone let that sort of wanton unpleasantness stop you from writing. Otherwise you're letting the terrorists win. ;)
Title: Re: On Writing
Post by: saltine on April 11, 2016, 04:08:27 AM
I mostly appreciate saltine's review of Cosmopolis. ;D

That was one of my best, very proud of it myself.  Thanks, Bondo.
Title: Re: On Writing
Post by: verbALs on April 11, 2016, 05:27:26 AM
Oldkid said;

Quote
When I have given my all, and my all is deemed inadequate, that is not encouragement.  It might feel better to drop out of the race if one can no longer compete.

But the forums are not a competition.

Precisely. Competition is for sports fields where it belongs.

oldkid, we talked about competition in sports, so it is very pertinent to see you make the point directly. Not even the Cacophony Derby should be treated competitively. Like any thread it should be a place of greater understanding through discussion. Hopefully.

oldkid, you talked about your contribution being deemed inadequate but I wanted to ask you to expand on this if you were willing, if only so I'm clear what you mean. I mean I can be crystal clear and say whatever people write is absolutely fine. Do you mean if it is then questioned in any way or examined, that displays competitive behaviour? I just want to be really certain what you mean. I wouldn't see it that way. Nor do I think that is the same as saltine's example, which I take to be about writing about how you feel being redundant, which was a very particular view which I can remember being expressed.

If we all agree that what ever people want to write is fine, as long as they write. Minus any personal stuff either in the content of a review or in the reply. I will sign up to that and act accordingly, but please feedback when you think the rule is being broken, because perspective is so diverse that one man's wine is another man's poison, obviously. Without a gentle encouraging nudge back to the side of light, people genuinely don't know sometimes.
Title: Re: On Writing
Post by: DarkeningHumour on April 11, 2016, 05:41:49 AM
What do you mean no personal stuff in the review ? Surely the entire review is personal ? Do you mean no mentions of things of the sort of « I watched this movie so often as a kid » or « This makes me think about that jolly funny time my mother beat me with a wooden spoon half to death, the silly sausage » ? But those can be important to convey one's reaction to a movie.
Title: Re: On Writing
Post by: verbALs on April 11, 2016, 05:47:22 AM
I mean no personal comments against any person, either inside a review or outside it. No derogatory comments.
Title: Re: On Writing
Post by: oldkid on April 11, 2016, 07:56:05 PM
Oldkid said;

Quote
When I have given my all, and my all is deemed inadequate, that is not encouragement.  It might feel better to drop out of the race if one can no longer compete.

But the forums are not a competition.

Precisely. Competition is for sports fields where it belongs.
...
 Like any thread it should be a place of greater understanding through discussion. Hopefully.

Yes.  And there is a fine line between competition and discussion, for some. 

Some make a comment, even a tiny one, like "nice review" and that is determined to be not enough.  I understand.  We all want our reviews to turn into a discussion of bigger ideas.  But not everyone has the energy to engage in even the smallest discussion.  We want a person to know that their review was read and appreciated and that's all we had to give.  Not because the review warrants only that, but because, perhaps, that is all the writing that the commenter had in them that day. "Be kind to everyone, for all you meet face a hard battle."  Or, more pertinently, be patient with everyone because who know what they had to face that day.

I am going to shoehorn in a discussion my wife and I were having today.  About how on the internet, for some, the thrill is the debate, or the deep discussion.  But others are seeking encouragement and community.  And how if one is trying to force debate (I am not pointing at you, verbals, but there have been many on the forum that this applies to), then they discourage the others seeking community from participating.  The debaters will set up standards, and force arguments (not necessarily angry ones) on those who are neither prepared nor willing to participate.  And I have seen forums and groups force the community people out so that their group is only filled with debaters. 

It seems to me that the way to have both groups of people in the same place (and this is a big place) is for the debaters to recognize their own, but to give the community people only the encouragement (or occasional helpful comment or clarification question) they seek.  Not sure.  What do you guys think?


oldkid, you talked about your contribution being deemed inadequate but I wanted to ask you to expand on this if you were willing, if only so I'm clear what you mean. I mean I can be crystal clear and say whatever people write is absolutely fine. Do you mean if it is then questioned in any way or examined, that displays competitive behaviour? I just want to be really certain what you mean. I wouldn't see it that way. Nor do I think that is the same as saltine's example, which I take to be about writing about how you feel being redundant, which was a very particular view which I can remember being expressed.

If we all agree that what ever people want to write is fine, as long as they write. Minus any personal stuff either in the content of a review or in the reply. I will sign up to that and act accordingly, but please feedback when you think the rule is being broken, because perspective is so diverse that one man's wine is another man's poison, obviously. Without a gentle encouraging nudge back to the side of light, people genuinely don't know sometimes.

When we ask a question to clarify, that does not display competitive behavior.  If we say, "Your writing doesn't meet this" arbitrary "standard", then it is.  Even the demand to write can be competitive.  "I want more" is asking for oneself, not to encourage the writer.  It is true, I really, really want more writing from saltine and ses and Lobby.  I certainly want more of smirnoff's epic reviews. But only if they have it to give.  I want any hindrance set aside that might prevent them from writing and preventing their work from being seen.  But I don't want to demand more than they have.  I might occasionally beg them, from my own selfish desire to obtain more of their entertainment and wisdom and insight.  But I hope that they will not take my begging as a demand from a self-indulging audience.  I hope that I take their energy levels and creative limits into account.

For the most part, I think that the negative competitive spirit is absent from the forums now  (or perhaps gladly erased by admin? :)   The discussions are still as bold, and the reviews are as good as they have ever been.  Certainly as creative, especially with Sandy.   And with OAD and verbals, there will always be top-notch writing.  But I feel that there are lurkers who fear to compete with us.  People who shy away from the cinema knowledge we developed through years of watching and writing and discussing here.  People who don't want their writing compared with those who are on the forums.  People who think that they will be teased or dismissed.  I hope that isn't the case, but it probably is. 

If you are a lurker and you want to jump in, but you don't think you are up to the task-- please remember that we all began here poorer writers and poorer students of film than we are now.  We'd love to see you participate.  We have people here who have English as a second (or third or more) language, and their ability to write this mixed up confused mess of a language improved, just by making the attempt.  We all are growing in our knowledge of cinema because we are constantly encouraged and challenged to watch film that we would never have watched ourselves.   We'd love to have the company.

Write with us, no matter what level you're at.

Okay, now I've wandered.  verbals, did I answer your question?

[/quote]
Title: Re: On Writing
Post by: verbALs on April 12, 2016, 12:19:51 AM
Thank you for the consideration of your answer.

I wonder if I spoil what for me is the answer to many of your points; simply because it's me saying it. I feel the only way people will know is to write in whichever way they please. If people have the impression that writing is like water off a ducks back for me then they may think this is an easy statement to make "just write". At least that fits the bill of being encouraging.

"Just write" doesn't answer saltines specific issue nor Lobby's either so I don't feel there is any simple answer. Certainly I think the upturn in writing of all kinds here recently then encourages others to find something they want to engage in. I can tell how busy people are by the long gaps between posts but the regularity is coming back, it feels, even for them. Consider this. Maybe I like it so much because I've been on the outside and now I'm more engaged myself with others. Again anyone could do that and from a better starting point. Logically any one person writing encourages someone else more than nobody writing. Logically then anyone doing what they feel they can to contribute to the forums health by posting has an encouraging effect of new or old people. Snowball rolling down a hill. And without expectation of a result because expectations are counterproductive.

Now there's another level also above the more casual film person that is an empty slot I want to point out. The more academic film conversation. People can't have a conversation on their own (even if it looks like I've been attempting that recently) but there are people who everyone would consider to be established members who could initiate that more studied discussion. Once it's begun it might pull people wondering what the next level of film discussion is. I keep saying I have a distaste for an intellectualised film discussion but so what? That's just me. I can think of a dozen people who would feel more at home if that level of discussion existed. But someone has to write to make that happen.

Finally this is all very well for me. So I've stopped being quite so spiky. There's the young dudes out on the town looking for some action. Again how does one accommodate a bit of fruity conversation? Well if this is an inclusive encouraging place then where's their place? I'm a great believer in life of knowing where the boundaries are which makes me a naturally pushy person but once I know where the line is that's fair enough. I don't want to overstep the line. All any energetic passionate person has to do is know where the line is and not step over it. That's what the line is there for. The question is where is the line? Well the answer as always to that one is, if you don't know where the line is, then find out. Nobody should need telling more than once. Don't repeat mistakes over and over. Don't be me! ;D Find the line if you don't know where it is and then stay inside it.

You can't encourage one sort of writing without encouraging them all. Having respect as the determining aspect, doesn't seem a particularly difficult or complex rule to abide by. To me.
Title: Re: On Writing
Post by: Junior on April 12, 2016, 12:47:07 AM
It was a short comment at the end of a page, so it's easy to miss.  But it's important to note:

I quit reviewing films here when two posters of real ability stated that a film review is inadequate when one states whether or not one liked the film and why.  After that I was too intimidated to post another review because that was all I had to say about the films I watched.

In order to encourage good writing, the first thing we must do is encourage people to write.  To declare someone's writing as inadequate, or covering too little, or to degrade someone's opinion is, I believe, the opposite of what we should be doing on this forum.  Saltine, I am ashamed that you had this experience.  Not that I made that statement, but that no one defended you.

I believe it was Verite who posted pics of hands and eyes for Bresson's film, with no comment.  Some wanted to erase his responses, even though they were insightful.  They were without literary merit, but they were worth thinking about.   So we argued about it, some defending the right to express thoughts without words.

Why shouldn't we defend those whose reviews are simple?  Some give groups of one sentence reviews, and while there may not be much to respond to, we seem to have no problem with that.  Lobby was put off because sometimes no one would respond to her reviews.  I have felt the same thing.  But at this point, there have been many, many reviews I wanted to respond to and found that I had no energy to do it.  Digital dysfunction, caused by brain fatigue. 

I love the fact that verbals and others are constantly encouraging and even challenging us to write with more detail and better.  But that love ceases when I no longer have the ability to respond.  When I have given my all, and my all is deemed inadequate, that is not encouragement.  It might feel better to drop out of the race if one can no longer compete.

But the forums are not a competition.  We are not here to meet a minimum standard, nor are we to match what some might think is a "real" review.  I've seen some people make some silly statements here on the forum.  For instance, that a "real" review comments on cinematography.  This isn't film school, although I learn a lot about film here. 

In my opinion, we are here to appreciate each other and what we have to share.  If we don't appreciate it, we let it pass by.  Or if we are unable to express our appreciation adequately, we can lurk or give a one word response.  It's up to us.

I want to encourage verbals to continue to challenge me to be more specific, to answer his questions.  He and others have drawn out of me better opinions and better writing by their challenges.  But I think we should all be sensitive to the community and that not everyone is ready to be challenged, and no one should be graded on their writing, or on what they wish to write about.

Saltine, I really hope you would pick up reviewing again.  I want to know your opinion.  We don't hear it, either on the podcast or on the forum, despite the hard work you put into both.  Please, as you feel stirred by a film, let us know.  I really want to hear.

I wanted to address the (probably) Verite example you bring up here. I wasn't a member of the mod team at that time and what I write here should be taken only as my position and not that of the other mods, admins, or anybody who isn't me.

Now, I was one of the people against that style of "review." At the time that was what that thread was called, "Review the last movie you watched," but it wasn't and still isn't a review. It is a collection of frames from a movie. We have another thread for that, actually. To me, that "review" says nothing other than, "look, there are some hands here." A line! One line is all it would have taken to turn me into a fan. Something which indicates some kind of thought other than pattern recognition. Answer the "so what" question. Look, some hands, I like them. Look, some hands, they mean this. Look, some hands, how gross. Look, some hands, how pretty. Something, anything to indicate your POV on the subject at hand. This is a forum for the written word. It can be heavily augmented by pictures and video, of course, but you gotta actually say something so I know you're communicating to me more than just watching the movie would do. I can make up my own vision of what those hands mean, but I'd rather just watch the movie if I was going to do that. We changed the thread to "Respond to..." because the response, in whatever form, was the key thing. It need not be a review, it need not be long or short or tackle any one thing or another. It just needs to exist, basically.
Title: Re: On Writing
Post by: DarkeningHumour on April 12, 2016, 12:55:18 AM
Some make a comment, even a tiny one, like "nice review" and that is determined to be not enough.  I understand.  We all want our reviews to turn into a discussion of bigger ideas.  But not everyone has the energy to engage in even the smallest discussion.  We want a person to know that their review was read and appreciated and that's all we had to give.  Not because the review warrants only that, but because, perhaps, that is all the writing that the commenter had in them that day. "Be kind to everyone, for all you meet face a hard battle."  Or, more pertinently, be patient with everyone because who know what they had to face that day.

I am going to shoehorn in a discussion my wife and I were having today.  About how on the internet, for some, the thrill is the debate, or the deep discussion.  But others are seeking encouragement and community.  And how if one is trying to force debate (I am not pointing at you, verbals, but there have been many on the forum that this applies to), then they discourage the others seeking community from participating.  The debaters will set up standards, and force arguments (not necessarily angry ones) on those who are neither prepared nor willing to participate.  And I have seen forums and groups force the community people out so that their group is only filled with debaters. 

The simple acknowledgment that one's review has been read can go a long way and I can only urge anyone who does not have the time or the energy to engage in more than that simple nod to do so. It's great encouragement for budding writers and equally important soulfood for the seasoned veterans. Of course, longer and deeper conversations around the review and the movie are preferable and provide better feedback, but I don't think anyone here is naive or self-centered enough not to realise what sorts of impediments the other members of the forum must have. We should at least keep people from feeling like they are writing into the deaf wind because that can feel terrible.

I am not sure how one can be shoehorned into a debate, but maybe that is just a testament to the fact that I may have been shoehorning people myself. As someone who actively looks for debate and disagreement, I have never understood the reluctance some people can have to engage in that sort of exercise. I sometimes get the feeling that is it perceived in a negative way, like an attempt on the argumentative side to joust against one who would rather be left in peace. That just sounds weird though. That challenging something should be an attack I mean.
Title: Re: On Writing
Post by: verbALs on April 12, 2016, 12:59:34 AM
Don't you somewhat assume that the argument you want to have, is seen as worth having by the other person? They don't show any disrespect because they don't want to have that particular argument, do they? They aren't obliged in fact to answer at all, as you said recently.

oldkid said;
Quote
The debaters will set up standards, and force arguments

And the response is quite naturally that any other person doesn't want to enter the debate at that point, so they don't bother.
Title: Re: On Writing
Post by: Bondo on April 12, 2016, 01:05:29 AM
It can be frustrating to feel like you are talking into the void. My most recent review, something obscure that probably no one has seen, is one that might be at risk of that. oad simply noting she saw it and that it might have helped remind her of it or get her to prioritize it is quite a lot. That's as much as I can really hope for for something like that. These things tend to snowball. I think of how Blind grew from obscure film that one or two of us had praised to something getting enough attention for a Filmspot nomination and even more viewings. Even if that first review doesn't get a lot of feedback, if it gets one other person to watch and perhaps review it, the downstream effect can be rather big.
Title: Re: On Writing
Post by: verbALs on April 12, 2016, 01:09:46 AM
Your last line is pertinent, Bondo. The review might get someone to watch the film. It might not necessarily get any response though. I think that example is good actually for that reason. If a person just says that they are more likely to watch the film after reading the review; that they have been influenced towards the movie, then that's very encouraging feedback. You are right. Easy to write as well. There's even the inherent question, why? Why have you been influenced? What specific part of the review made you feel more likely to watch it. Feedback loop of the finest quality. You benefit your own writing by explaining in more depth, and you benefit the reviewer's writing by telling them what about their writing is so effective.
Title: Re: On Writing
Post by: DarkeningHumour on April 12, 2016, 01:13:41 AM
It can be frustrating to feel like you are talking into the void. My most recent review, something obscure that probably no one has seen, is one that might be at risk of that. oad simply noting she saw it and that it might have helped remind her of it or get her to prioritize it is quite a lot. That's as much as I can really hope for for something like that. These things tend to snowball. I think of how Blind grew from obscure film that one or two of us had praised to something getting enough attention for a Filmspot nomination and even more viewings. Even if that first review doesn't get a lot of feedback, if it gets one other person to watch and perhaps review it, the downstream effect can be rather big.

It merits mentioning that a lot of reviews (I get the feeling) go unread by those who would not have the movies spoiled.
Title: Re: On Writing
Post by: Verite on April 12, 2016, 01:36:31 AM
I believe it was Verite who posted pics of hands and eyes for Bresson's film, with no comment.  Some wanted to erase his responses, even though they were insightful.  They were without literary merit, but they were worth thinking about.   So we argued about it, some defending the right to express thoughts without words.

I wanted to address the (probably) Verite example you bring up here.

Wasn't me, y'all.[/tamitaylor]
Title: Re: On Writing
Post by: verbALs on April 12, 2016, 01:40:06 AM
I thought it was flieger, did this a lot. I loved his utter obliqueness. When he wrote, it was individual in the true sense. Little works of obtuse beauty. No idea what he ever thought of a movie though. I remember the German chimney movie he reviewed. I mean what on earth was that. But I remember it.
Title: Re: On Writing
Post by: Junior on April 12, 2016, 09:23:19 AM
I believe it was Verite who posted pics of hands and eyes for Bresson's film, with no comment.  Some wanted to erase his responses, even though they were insightful.  They were without literary merit, but they were worth thinking about.   So we argued about it, some defending the right to express thoughts without words.

I wanted to address the (probably) Verite example you bring up here.

Wasn't me, y'all.[/tamitaylor]

Oops, sorry. Well, whomever it was, that's my position on the topic.
Title: Re: On Writing
Post by: oldkid on April 12, 2016, 11:41:23 AM

I wonder if I spoil what for me is the answer to many of your points; simply because it's me saying it. I feel the only way people will know is to write in whichever way they please. If people have the impression that writing is like water off a ducks back for me then they may think this is an easy statement to make "just write". At least that fits the bill of being encouraging. 

This is the art of conversation: the fact that we are not speaking to a void, or to an unseen "audience." In writing to a person I know, it gives flavor, substance, deeper context.  Letter writing is a specific kind of writing, ancient and powerful because we know that the author isn't speaking just for posterity (although s/he might be as well), but to a specific person, in a specific place about a specific context.  The particulars might not apply to any other situation, but the principles we use certainly do.  What is this forum but a public collection of letters concerning the philosophical subject of aesthetics? And, I suppose, a few other things.  But in that context, the fact that I am writing to verbals or Junior or Sandy or whoever is essential.  This context should not be discarded.

Logically then anyone doing what they feel they can to contribute to the forums health by posting has an encouraging effect of new or old people. Snowball rolling down a hill. And without expectation of a result because expectations are counterproductive.

Perhaps one specific expectation might be counterproductive, but there must be hope.  Without hope is any action done at all?  Without looking into the future and thinking, "perhaps eating this apple will make me full", even if the hope is ultimately dashed by the discovery of a worm?  Perhaps we should multiply our hopes, instead of reducing our writing to one expectation.  Our review might encourage someone to see a film, give someone new thoughts, stir someone's nostalgic musings, and maybe, just maybe, engender a response.  But even if we didn't get a response, that doesn't mean that our writing went into the void.

You can't encourage one sort of writing without encouraging them all. Having respect as the determining aspect, doesn't seem a particularly difficult or complex rule to abide by. To me.

Well, I would like to encourage a variety of writing, as long as it is writing that does not discourage others.  And some styles of writing may not stick. To have academic discussions here would be wonderful.  So long as the participants realize that most members won't participate.

I wanted to address the (probably) Verite example you bring up here. I wasn't a member of the mod team at that time and what I write here should be taken only as my position and not that of the other mods, admins, or anybody who isn't me.

Now, I was one of the people against that style of "review." At the time that was what that thread was called, "Review the last movie you watched," but it wasn't and still isn't a review. It is a collection of frames from a movie.

From Mirriam-Webster:
"review
": an act of carefully looking at or examining the quality or condition of something or someone : examination or inspection
": a report that gives someone's opinion about the quality of a book, performance, product, etc.
": a magazine filled mostly with reviews and articles that describe the writer's thoughts or opinions about a subject"

The frames from a film do not constitute a "report", that is true.  But it does constitute an examination and an interpretation.  And it communicates something.  I learned, before I ever saw a Bresson film, to examine the details that the camera examines.  Why does Bresson focus on hands in this film?  Why so many of them?  What does this mean toward the film's themes?  Verite (oops, sorry) flieger taught me all this without me having to wander to another thread I had never visited.

This goes toward the point of variety.  Perhaps the most apt interpretation cannot, or does not need to be, spoken by certain words or by words at all.  And that discussion is one which I remember that the disagreement of a definition of a single word, "review" was used to discourage someone from participating creatively, which discouraged me.


The simple acknowledgment that one's review has been read can go a long way and I can only urge anyone who does not have the time or the energy to engage in more than that simple nod to do so. It's great encouragement for budding writers and equally important soulfood for the seasoned veterans.

That's good to know.

As someone who actively looks for debate and disagreement, I have never understood the reluctance some people can have to engage in that sort of exercise. I sometimes get the feeling that is it perceived in a negative way, like an attempt on the argumentative side to joust against one who would rather be left in peace. That just sounds weird though. That challenging something should be an attack I mean.

Our brains are magical.  We can be ready for a sparring match one minute, and in the next it is the last thing we would want.  Perhaps it has something to do with the bleeding hole that just appeared in my chest.  Or with the emotional bleeding hole that no one else can see.

For every person that is ready to verbally box, there are just as many on the sidelines covering their eyes wondering why anyone would want to put themselves in that kind of a position, asking "why can't we all get along?"  The ones on the sidelines can't see the smiles on the pair fighting.  And the fighters can't understand why everyone wouldn't want the thrill of the ring.  To each their own, I suppose.
Title: Re: On Writing
Post by: Junior on April 12, 2016, 12:25:45 PM
I wanted to address the (probably) Verite example you bring up here. I wasn't a member of the mod team at that time and what I write here should be taken only as my position and not that of the other mods, admins, or anybody who isn't me.

Now, I was one of the people against that style of "review." At the time that was what that thread was called, "Review the last movie you watched," but it wasn't and still isn't a review. It is a collection of frames from a movie.

From Mirriam-Webster:
"review
": an act of carefully looking at or examining the quality or condition of something or someone : examination or inspection
": a report that gives someone's opinion about the quality of a book, performance, product, etc.
": a magazine filled mostly with reviews and articles that describe the writer's thoughts or opinions about a subject"

The frames from a film do not constitute a "report", that is true.  But it does constitute an examination and an interpretation.  And it communicates something.  I learned, before I ever saw a Bresson film, to examine the details that the camera examines.  Why does Bresson focus on hands in this film?  Why so many of them?  What does this mean toward the film's themes?  Verite (oops, sorry) flieger taught me all this without me having to wander to another thread I had never visited.

This goes toward the point of variety.  Perhaps the most apt interpretation cannot, or does not need to be, spoken by certain words or by words at all.  And that discussion is one which I remember that the disagreement of a definition of a single word, "review" was used to discourage someone from participating creatively, which discouraged me.

All of those definitions of a review involve the reviewer's thoughts on the subject by way of expressing an opinion either about what a thing means or how well it is constructed. Even your example of what you got out of that post didn't reflect any of flieger's thoughts about the movie. Your thoughts were about the movie itself. Like I said, if I want to think about a movie, I'll watch it myself. In reading a review or a response, I want to know what the author thinks about the work. The pictures without even a hint of explanation do not achieve that goal. They're great fodder for the Random Screenshot thread, but they do nothing in the way of actually responding to the movie itself. They just are the movie, distilled.

I desperately want to make sure that people don't think I'm outlining what makes for a good and bad review or response. I think a one word response so long as it is expressing an opinion is totally fine.
Title: Re: On Writing
Post by: Sandy on April 12, 2016, 12:29:32 PM
brief interruption


Words, words, beautiful words.

So much to catch up here with, but for now wanted to say how wonderful this conversation is and to throw in a few words...

“She was fascinated with words. To her, words were things of beauty, each like a magical powder or potion that could be combined with other words to create powerful spells.”  --Dean Koontz

I come into the forum to read. It's my go to place when I have a few minutes. It is more than the words though, why I'm here, it's the people behind the words. I want to read what you specifically have to say, whether it's a review, a random thought, a song, a debate, a recipe, or a life happening. You all bring the words alive. You make the words magical. I wish I could spend the day responding and asking questions, but knowing there's a grateful person out there who's soaking it all in, hopefully is useful. :)


oldkid, thank you so much for the kind words. It is encouraging and makes me feel like I have something to contribute. As for writing to a specific person, that is exactly how I write. I must have in mind the person or persons I'm writing to. If not a forum member, then it is to a character, or more often than not, to myself. There is always an audience, whether they know it or not. :)
Title: Re: On Writing
Post by: oldkid on April 12, 2016, 12:40:07 PM

All of those definitions of a review involve the reviewer's thoughts on the subject by way of expressing an opinion either about what a thing means or how well it is constructed. Even your example of what you got out of that post didn't reflect any of flieger's thoughts about the movie. Your thoughts were about the movie itself. Like I said, if I want to think about a movie, I'll watch it myself. In reading a review or a response, I want to know what the author thinks about the work. The pictures without even a hint of explanation do not achieve that goal. They're great fodder for the Random Screenshot thread, but they do nothing in the way of actually responding to the movie itself. They just are the movie, distilled.

I desperately want to make sure that people don't think I'm outlining what makes for a good and bad review or response. I think a one word response so long as it is expressing an opinion is totally fine.

flieger edited the film, and so interpreted it by his choices.  And that interpretation stirred questions and a way of looking at film that I had never considered before.  He gave me something Bresson had never given me-- the desire to see a Bresson film, in order to see what flieger saw.  He did what a review did, without words. 

And it doesn't bother me that you or others didn't see any benefit from flieger's shots.  What bothered me, and still does, is that it was being dismissed for the rest of us. 

And Sandy!  What beautiful words!
Title: Re: On Writing
Post by: Junior on April 12, 2016, 01:10:01 PM
But we have a space for that kind of project, and that space is not the same as the space where the writing happens. We created this space, this thread, because the talk of writing was clogging up other places and topics. As you said, flieger edited the film into a few stills. That's not a response, though, it is a new thing of its own. It is a representation of the film. A review or response is a representation of the person reviewing or responding. A response necessarily includes a perspective. I don't know what to make of those hands. I don't know what flieger is making of those hands, and I don't know what Bresson is doing with them. I get nothing from that other than that there are hands in it. Heck, they might all be from a hand montage that comes at the very opening of the film and the rest might be a sci-fi thriller like Space Jail. I've got nothing to indicate anything other than that there are hands in the movie. So what?
Title: Re: On Writing
Post by: oldkid on April 12, 2016, 01:21:11 PM
I have about two hundred brief collections which I call "Scripture readings".  They are two pages of selected passages from the Bible.  The Bible, of course, isn't a single volume, but a number of books by different authors with different viewpoints that happen to be collected into a library called a "canon".  My "concordance" or collection of passages is but a tiny segment of a huge collection, around a theme.  Some may see that theme, some may not.  But it's there.  It is my examination or "review" of that theme in that one canon.  It is my interpretation.  Some, when they collect a series of passages from the Bible, consider their collection to be beyond interpretation, but I am not so foolish.

I know that the editing of a larger work, a selection of a theme within a large piece of art is interpretation, a form of review.  I am giving my spin on the larger work, even if no one else gets it.  That's what flieger did.

And you might say "so what?", but I and others did not.  Who are you to say what we get out of it.  If flieger calls the collection of shots a review, even as I call my collection of passages a theology, even if you didn't get it, why should you dispute it?  I call it a review.  An examination of a work of art that gives a particular point of view.  Sorry you didn't get it.  But please stop telling me what I should call it or how I should consider it.

The point, again, isn't your opinion. You are welcome to express that opinion.  But the fact that you are imposing that opinion on others. And discouraging people from pushing the boundaries in a positive, creative way.  Many people consider Upstream Color nonsensical, simply a series of pretty scenes.  Does that mean that it isn't really a narrative film?  (actually it is)  Does that mean that we should discourage Shane Carruth from making these kinds of films?
Title: Re: On Writing
Post by: Junior on April 12, 2016, 02:03:46 PM
I think you'll note that I said "I" a lot in my responses here, that's me signaling that what I think is just what I think, and I have no power to force you to do one thing or another, nor do I want to do so.

We have developed a pretty varied space here for all kinds of writing to be done. We put that writing in the places that are designated for it. Mostly, the "rules" for what goes in one thread and not another are arbitrary, agreed upon by means of unthinking tradition. It used to be that all the reviews or responses that one wrote to a film were contained in that one thread. But we've expanded. Top 100 reviews go in the top 100 thread, some use the director thread to collect their opinions on those subjects there. And we've split the words and images into two threads, one being the "Respond to..." thread and one being the "Random Screenshot" thread. I don't remember when that schism happened, it might have been because of this very incident. But it is part of our (admittedly arbitrary) guidelines that things which are just images go in the thread for images while a combination of word and picture can go in the "Respond to..." thread. I wish that the Random Screenshot thread was 1. named something else and 2. more used than it is. I would have no problem looking at however many pictures of hands you could possibly cram into one post in that thread. I'd be happy to do it. Make it multiple posts! We changed the title of the "Respond to..." thread because we wanted to allow for things other than straightforward reviews there. Perhaps we should do the same for the Screenshot thread to indicate a more cultivated process there. You're not just throwing up pictures of anything, these are pictures of hands!

I understand bristling at some of my comments here. I've got standards that you don't have. It is not my job to proscribe what you can or cannot do, for the most part. I can only outline my thought process on the matter and hope to enforce the spoken or unspoken guidelines that we've established here fairly. That's where the line between my position here as a member and moderator (and temporary admin) is. There are plenty of reviews here that I don't like, that don't mesh with what I want to read about. I don't delete them because I don't agree with them. But when the format changes from one thing to a different kind of thing, I think it is fair to ask that they be put in different places, no?
Title: Re: On Writing
Post by: oldkid on April 12, 2016, 02:18:52 PM
I understand the delineation of certain subjects.  It helps us find things in this wild and varied forum.  Honestly, I'm shocked at how you admins keep up!  Although it is admittedly easier the last couple years.  I hope it gets a bit harder in the future :)  I agree that the Dead Horse conversation should be placed in the Dead Horse thread.  It always comes up, it always will and it is helpful to see past discussion on the topic before it is brought up again.

As you say, there are more popular threads than others.  So at the time we had the Review the Last Movie... and the Screenshots... threads.  The one, at the time was one of the most watched threads, the other was barely noticed.  So flieger knew what he wanted to communicate and looked at the threads, and felt that it better was expressed as a "review".  You and others disagreed and wanted it to be put in Screenshots.  But these screenshots were not random, but expressing a theme.  They weren't a single shot, but they were communicating something about the film.  In his mind, and mine, it falls under the category of "review" more than "random screenshot".   And then there was controversy, because not everyone agreed.

Definitions are tricky, especially when we are on the edge of them.  I would probably have agreed with you that a "review" should have words, at least one, until I saw flieger's interpretation of a "review."  Now I'd say that the definition should be a bit broader.   Even as filmmakers have pushed the edge of narrative film over the last 100 years. 

But the real question is this, my dear admin.  Should this conversation remain in the "On Writing" thread?  We aren't talking about writing but about the definition of "review" and how it applies to a particular context.  I believe if you are going to be consistent, you should be arguing that this conversation should be moved to a different thread. :)
Title: Re: On Writing
Post by: saltine on April 12, 2016, 05:08:56 PM
Between Junior and oldkid I've learned a lot here. Not the least of which is that Junior likes order and oldkid likes order.  HOW you order is different and revealing, at least to me.

Anyway, it was a good discussion at the time it happened and a good discussion today.  No one is 100% right, but certainly neither of you is wrong.  It always comes back to the definition or an interpretation of that definition. 

When anyone begins by saying, "According to Webster" I moan.  But, really possibly all discourse should start with an enunciated definition, as we all have a definition in mind when we begin to write or speak.
Title: Re: On Writing
Post by: oldkid on April 12, 2016, 07:01:24 PM
 

When anyone begins by saying, "According to Webster" I moan. 

Oh, I know.  But when I use the dictionary, I try not to limit meaning, but to speak of the range of meanings a word might have.  Definitions change over time and dictionaries tend to be a step or two behind the range of meanings used in everyday speech.  But for a conservative approach, dictionaries are good for reference.

Anyway, good discussion. 
Title: Re: On Writing
Post by: mańana on April 12, 2016, 07:26:32 PM
flieger's hand posts are legendary.
Title: Re: On Writing
Post by: DarkeningHumour on April 12, 2016, 09:21:20 PM
We have developed a pretty varied space here for all kinds of writing to be done. We put that writing in the places that are designated for it. Mostly, the "rules" for what goes in one thread and not another are arbitrary, agreed upon by means of unthinking tradition. It used to be that all the reviews or responses that one wrote to a film were contained in that one thread. But we've expanded. Top 100 reviews go in the top 100 thread, some use the director thread to collect their opinions on those subjects there. And we've split the words and images into two threads, one being the "Respond to..." thread and one being the "Random Screenshot" thread. I don't remember when that schism happened, it might have been because of this very incident. But it is part of our (admittedly arbitrary) guidelines that things which are just images go in the thread for images while a combination of word and picture can go in the "Respond to..." thread. I wish that the Random Screenshot thread was 1. named something else and 2. more used than it is. I would have no problem looking at however many pictures of hands you could possibly cram into one post in that thread. I'd be happy to do it. Make it multiple posts! We changed the title of the "Respond to..." thread because we wanted to allow for things other than straightforward reviews there. Perhaps we should do the same for the Screenshot thread to indicate a more cultivated process there. You're not just throwing up pictures of anything, these are pictures of hands!

(...) There are plenty of reviews here that I don't like, that don't mesh with what I want to read about. I don't delete them because I don't agree with them. But when the format changes from one thing to a different kind of thing, I think it is fair to ask that they be put in different places, no?

FWIW, I am with Junior in considering that image-based posts about a movie do not belong to the same subcategory as written reviews, insofar as the thread is specifically name « Review the... ». However, from a semantical perspective, I would say that flieger's posts did constitue a form of "responding" in that they were reactions to a movie just watched. A reaction is anything that you do directly because you watched the movie. Throwing your cat on the floor, if the movie inspired you to do so, would be a reaction, though admittedly one that would be hard to read and purveyor of little meaning. I would not include it in any thread. Now, it seems like I am arguing for film stills to be eligible for the « Respond to » thread but I am not. I think there is value in recognizing the taxonomical separation between the written word and this different manner of responding by collecting them in separate threads. I would advise renaming the « Random Screenshot » thread though, and perhaps even the « Respond to » one, perhaps in favour of something like « Write about », which I think would neatly clarify everything.

Then again, I am also a proponent of Free Ice Cream Thursdays, so maybe I should not be making the decisions.

To escape the conversation briefly now, I do wonder Junior, what you mean in that last paragraph by not liking reviews. I do not like all the reviews I come across here, but there are very few I actively dislike. It is mostly a question of how well written they are and how much they focus on things I care about.

But the real question is this, my dear admin.  Should this conversation remain in the "On Writing" thread?  We aren't talking about writing but about the definition of "review" and how it applies to a particular context.  I believe if you are going to be consistent, you should be arguing that this conversation should be moved to a different thread. :)

Technically you are debating what should be eligible for a writing thread, so I might argue that this is the best place for that conversation and any comparison between writing and other ways of conveying meaning. But since you are also considering the fine points of forum thread organisation and functioning, you could make a point to move this discussion into one of those meta threads about the forum itself. Since I believe the focus of the discussion has been the interpretational value of flieger's posts though, I would advocate the first option.

Anyway, it was a good discussion at the time it happened and a good discussion today.  No one is 100% right, but certainly neither of you is wrong.  It always comes back to the definition or an interpretation of that definition. 

When anyone begins by saying, "According to Webster" I moan.  But, really possibly all discourse should start with an enunciated definition, as we all have a definition in mind when we begin to write or speak.

I cringe when people resort to a dictionary too. Often it is because they misguidedly believe it is clever to begin a speech or somesuch by dotting some eyes and end up sounding like uninspired high schoolers. Not only is that unoriginal but it risks constraining the conversation. No dictionary reflects the semantic wealth you can find behind most words. What oldkid did though, has merit because, in my experience, people too often spend entire conversations disagreeing about something because one (or all) of them is using one or more terms improperly. All philosophical discussions or arguments end up being essentially about semantics and how we choose to define certain concepts and what ideas we recognize behind specific words.
Title: Re: On Writing
Post by: Bondo on April 12, 2016, 09:42:02 PM
I remember caring a lot about the picture review issue. Now I'm too tired to care. Except picture reviews are not sufficient for Top 100 Club credit.
Title: Re: On Writing
Post by: Junior on April 12, 2016, 10:39:04 PM
To escape the conversation briefly now, I do wonder Junior, what you mean in that last paragraph by not liking reviews. I do not like all the reviews I come across here, but there are very few I actively dislike. It is mostly a question of how well written they are and how much they focus on things I care about.

I agree that there are very few I actively dislike, but as I have entered into grad school and become more critical in my reading, it has unfortunately tainted somewhat my ability to read uncritically. Especially with the demands on my time being what they are, I just can't justify spending much of any time at all reading things that I know from past experience won't mean anything to me. Believe me when I say that this isn't a common occurrence and that it is in fact quite uncommon, though to be more specific than that would be mean and probably a violation of my job here as a mod. Just as we've spent a lot of digital ink here valuing individual expression above all else, the necessary downside of that is the rare example of an expression that is a mishmash of ideas and thoughts and rambles that don't add up to anything. I'm sure I've done that very thing several times. It happens, we move on.

But we've all written enough here, to know what we're going to get from everybody, for the most part, right? I know what a 1SO review will have in it, and I know what a Bondo review will have in it and I know what one of my own reviews will have in it. When what you want to read doesn't jive with what you know somebody will provide, why waste your time reading it?
Title: Re: On Writing
Post by: DarkeningHumour on April 12, 2016, 10:45:29 PM
I agree that there are very few I actively dislike, but as I have entered into grad school and become more critical in my reading, it has unfortunately tainted somewhat my ability to read uncritically.

This is not a bad thing. And we are all guilty of the occasional instance of horrendous word pouring, me probably first among others.
Title: Re: On Writing
Post by: Junior on April 12, 2016, 10:50:34 PM
Indeed, I'm sure we all have reviews that we are less than proud of. Nobody is a straight A student, especially when they write as much as we write here. Batting 1000 is not possible for us mere mortals. It's when that bad review becomes the norm that I tune out. I'm not going to tell you (the general you) about it, probably, because that's not cool, man, but I will just, you know, pass over it on my way to the next post. None of you signed up for my writing class so I won't grade you, find you in violation of the prompt or whatever, but just know that

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YiKPCOaDhfo
Title: Re: On Writing
Post by: ses on April 12, 2016, 10:51:22 PM
Not any more admin, you must read them ALL.  ;)
Title: Re: On Writing
Post by: oldkid on April 12, 2016, 10:55:35 PM
The quality of my reviews vary wildly, in my opinion.   Generally, I am so exhausted as to not have an original thought, but I will post anyway from some obligation.

Occasionally, I write exactly the way I always want to write and I can feel my blood boiling through my fingertips.  I live for those times.
Title: Re: On Writing
Post by: Junior on April 12, 2016, 10:58:37 PM
I would like to express again that I find the overwhelming majority of writing here to be just wonderful. Even those who aren't the most skilled technically will often come at a movie in an interesting way and that's good enough for me. I'll only really call out a good review if I think it's really really good. The rest of you get a solid B+ in my book, mostly.
Title: Re: On Writing
Post by: oldkid on April 12, 2016, 11:01:54 PM
I'll only really call out a good review if I think it's really really good.

Better than calling out the failures.

"Mr. oldkid, I'd like to discuss something with you..." 
*shudders*
Title: Re: On Writing
Post by: Junior on April 12, 2016, 11:09:05 PM
Not any more admin, you must read them ALL.  ;)

Oh right, that's what I meant to say. I"M READING EVERY SINGLE POST.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KBKXu3Kg4yg

I'll only really call out a good review if I think it's really really good.

Better than calling out the failures.

"Mr. oldkid, I'd like to discuss something with you..." 
*shudders*

Ugh! The worst.
Title: Re: On Writing
Post by: verbALs on April 12, 2016, 11:56:04 PM
Re: the dictionary definition issue.

Dispatch from the front line. My experience is a lot of arguments can start to devolve towards semantics and a proper definition of the term under discussion will focus a conversation and stop it turning to mush. Yes DH eventually said that but he said the opposite in the same paragraph so the point may have been muddied slightly.

I'm unhappy that this thread has turned tangential and towards a list of "things people can't do". The point that ses and saltine made so well was that one persons dislike is another persons prohibition against writing. My personal feeling is that if the tone of the discussion is anything othenrm than encouraging then it is inappropriate. To this thread anyway. Think of it as lurkers and new guys reading all this picking of nits and thinking how unwelcoming it is.

I can tell you where my faults lay in this regard. I've been musing these things for a long time like the structure of reviews, as a response to some peoples misgivings about writing more. Well forget all that. It has to be simpler because what people want to do in expressing themselves has to be an infinitely wide gate that everyone can pass through without even knowing the gate is there.

The totally gif made review that is in smirnoff's future isn't a pleasure I want to be denied.

Art as expression, writing about art as a reflection.
Title: Re: On Writing
Post by: Junior on April 13, 2016, 12:12:30 AM
I have always been as encouraging as I possibly can. But encouraging does not mean blindly uncritical. There are benefits to knowing that you aren't performing up to the expectations of, well, whomever. Teachers, peers, friends. If one wallows in their mediocrity, what good does that do anybody?

That being said, it's not really my place here to do any critiquing here, which is why I don't. But I won't shut down my critical faculties in my own brain when it doesn't do anybody any harm. I think most of us can agree that there is such a thing as a bad movie, and by extension we can agree that there is such a thing as a bad review. But like movies, what makes a review bad in one reader's mind will not make it bad in another and so on and so forth. To pretend otherwise is disingenuous. The ability to write a good review is in anybody's grasp so everybody should try and try and keep trying. They won't always succeed, I won't always succeed. That's fine, we can acknowledge that.
Title: Re: On Writing
Post by: verbALs on April 13, 2016, 12:16:58 AM
I'm losing the encouragement in all the caveats.

I'm not clouding this by arguing about it. The authorititive arguments on this have been made by the other admins. I wish I had their succinct definitive way of putting it. Oldkid talked of tangents and dead horses. This needs curtailing. Sorry to be abrupt.
Title: Re: On Writing
Post by: Junior on April 13, 2016, 12:19:35 AM
Not sure what I should do in this scenario.
Title: Re: On Writing
Post by: verbALs on April 13, 2016, 12:21:02 AM
Read what ses and saltine wrote about things that put people off writing.
Title: Re: On Writing
Post by: Junior on April 13, 2016, 12:32:18 AM
I think I've sufficiently expressed my point of view on the subject, a point of view which does not really have anything to do with what either of them wrote, I think, but if they have a problem with it they're adults and friends and they can bring it to me. One might want to read what another writes when responding to them so that there's no confusion and I wrote a lot, so I don't blame anybody for missing the intricacies that I assure you are there. And there's some advice given to physicians that you might want to look into.

Anyways. Here's the real basics.

EVERYBODY! Do whatever you want when it comes to writing things.

I promise to read every single word.

I promise to praise the things I find praiseworthy.

I promise to keep the rules of the forum, so post those things in the correct thread and we'll be cool. I promise to be fair to everybody.

The end.
Title: Re: On Writing
Post by: DarkeningHumour on April 13, 2016, 12:43:54 AM
That being said, it's not really my place here to do any critiquing here, which is why I don't.

For the record, I welcome any critiquing, your or otherwise.
Title: Re: On Writing
Post by: Junior on April 13, 2016, 12:56:48 AM
That being said, it's not really my place here to do any critiquing here, which is why I don't.

For the record, I welcome any critiquing, your or otherwise.

I appreciate that, but I don't think I'll take you up on it. I've gotten a lot from your reviews and I don't want to mess with you or anybody else because what is said to one will be applied across the board as we've seen here. I certainly don't want to stop anybody from expressing themselves, even those whose writing I don't enjoy or get anything from. If you really really want it, send something to me in the summer-time via PM and I'll address your writing from my very own, private, personal point of view. That's not the kind of thing that should be done in public. I don't even like talking about it here, really, except that this is the place to do it if ever there was one.
Title: Re: On Writing
Post by: DarkeningHumour on April 13, 2016, 01:07:40 AM
I might take you up on your summer offer.
Title: Re: On Writing
Post by: oldkid on April 13, 2016, 02:45:15 AM
There was a thread or club established at one time to critique each other's writing.  I wonder if this could be established again.  I know that I have a number of pieces of writing that is begging to be critiqued.

EDIT: like that last sentence.  Ugh.
Title: Re: On Writing
Post by: saltine on April 13, 2016, 05:14:30 AM
http://www.filmspotting.net/forum/index.php?topic=7870.0

Writers club
Title: Re: On Writing
Post by: DarkeningHumour on April 13, 2016, 09:17:27 AM
Thank heavens for omniscient moderators.
Title: Re: On Writing
Post by: oldkid on April 13, 2016, 10:37:13 AM
Thanks, saltine.  Wasn't sure if it really existed or if it...

Hey!  I started that thread!
Title: Re: On Writing
Post by: ses on April 13, 2016, 06:19:01 PM
For me, it's less about being concerned on whether or not others on the forum think I'm not a very good writer, but more about whether or not I can adequately contribute to the forum through my reviews.  My reviews are pretty much always personal, or this is what moved me, this is what I didn't like, and that has been expressed in the past by some forum members as not being "good" reviews.  Personally, I never read a review from someone and think "Man, that was badly written."  I try and figure out what compelled this person to write the review, do I agree or disagree with their take on the film, if I haven't seen this film, does this make me want to see the film now.  So, it's less about caring if you like or don't like my writing, it's more about whether my review actually has an impact on someone or if it is contributing to the forum as a whole.  Like I said before, I write scientifically, which means, what is the most succinct way to effectively convey my point.  I am a great editor when it comes to reading scientific manuscripts, I can cut and slash all of the "flowery" writing out of it to make it clear and concise.  Does that translate into critical film reviews?  Maybe, maybe not.  I won't know if I don't write more, which I constantly think I should. 
Title: Re: On Writing
Post by: verbALs on April 13, 2016, 11:52:06 PM
I feel those particular comments about not writing ones feelings can be put in a context that doesn't denigrate either other writers nor the quotes originator.

When I started came in here, it was at a point where I wanted; spurred especially by the podcast, to explore film as a sort of hobby. No idea about the writing at all, which was just a means to an end. At that point in 2010, lots of people here were reaching a point of understanding about film. A fully matured perspective. So I fully expected that some people would be less than enthused by another newbie dipping his toes in the water. Yet I talked as if I was learning so I got a great supportive response. Now a lot of people will compete the journey and move on. This seems natural. Some openly questioned this completion process and where it left their opinion compared with the learners. It felt superior sometimes and condescending but that's a failure in communication. I never was confused about where it came from. From a desire to move on and a frustration that one might feel the conversation isn't at that evolved level. We could use an intellectual conversation here like we could use all the other types.

The space has to be open for both types of film watching. Supporting others if you know a little more than a new user. No barrier to entry. I can see some of my natural challenging attitude has come off poorly but Id like to encourage by stimulating a conversation. If the encouraging tone gets lost then I will have failed but I can get up every morning and try to do better. Another point would be that any person can attempt to start their writing learning process in the same manner. In an atmosphere of encouragement. My perspective is any piece of writing is the step to a better piece next time and perhaps this thread is a good way of quarantining the discussion of that learning process from the discussion of the review itself. The admins have encouraged that separation with this thread. That separates out the conversation, avoids confusion and encourages the next piece.

I'm not counting. Aren't there more reviews happening anyway now? Anyway all
We need is more writing of reviews or anything. I like reviews as a formal way of starting a conversation. Two reviews on the same film that state positions from which any two people could gain a greater understanding of the movie.
Title: Re: On Writing
Post by: verbALs on April 14, 2016, 03:53:29 AM
Here's a statement. Passive aggression is nearly as bad as aggression, in writing or face to face.

Personally? Let's say it doesn't fit the bill of being encouraging.

I wonder if anyone has any thoughts on the matter.
Title: Re: On Writing
Post by: Paul Phoenix on April 14, 2016, 03:55:30 AM
I agree. That's why I do actual aggression.

BTW this a joke.
Title: Re: On Writing
Post by: verbALs on April 14, 2016, 03:57:21 AM
Ha ha! Well that's a definitive answer right there. You notice I did say that actual aggression is worse, but by a hair's breadth.
Title: Re: On Writing
Post by: Paul Phoenix on April 14, 2016, 03:59:26 AM
Hey, that's how Banner kept it under control.

(https://45.media.tumblr.com/ae6aa556a090a661f298bf42aca1c461/tumblr_n60kvuGupP1tq4of6o1_500.gif)
Title: Re: On Writing
Post by: verbALs on April 14, 2016, 04:02:06 AM
Gamma ray induced rage is NOT a good justification to take out the door into the world. ;D
Title: Re: On Writing
Post by: DarkeningHumour on April 14, 2016, 04:28:45 AM
Here's a statement. Passive aggression is nearly as bad as aggression, in writing or face to face.

Personally? Let's say it doesn't fit the bill of being encouraging.

I wonder if anyone has any thoughts on the matter.

I don't understand why this needs to be a topic of discussion. No aggression, full stop.
Title: Re: On Writing
Post by: verbALs on April 14, 2016, 04:52:17 AM
I agree. But my reason is it isn't encouraging. It tends to shut conversation down.

You know what a seagull manager is? It's a boss who comes in, craps all over everyone and leaves. There's seagull posting also. Leaves a mess for others to tidy up. It goes hand in hand with passive aggression. If we are gonna talk about things that put people off fully engaging in discussion I feel like this is a subject worth exploring, but I respect your right not. {Anything can be a topic of discussion, why limit things; there's no disrespect implied in bringing it up}
Title: Re: On Writing
Post by: DarkeningHumour on April 14, 2016, 04:53:34 AM
I just don't see who the dissenting voice is going to be. I mean, I could always play devil's advocate but this seems like stating the obvious.
Title: Re: On Writing
Post by: verbALs on April 14, 2016, 04:55:41 AM
Are you really saying you don't know who does this? Anybody is capable of doing it. In a sense I'm raising the issue to make sure I don't do it, by writing it down. No need to play devil's advocate when you have already stated your position, which I agree with.
Title: Re: On Writing
Post by: Paul Phoenix on April 14, 2016, 11:35:13 AM
So, since the thread has touched on the validity of a review before, I just want to share some personal feelings on the subject after my review of Under the Skin. What do you think of reviews that talk about how "I don't connect with this film", "I don't feel anything from this film", or "I don't get this film at all"? I know we went through countless times the whole notion of how I'm not obligated to like a film no matter how 'highly acclaimed' it is, but I'm not really talking about obligation. I'm merely curious about your thoughts on whether if I should post these reviews or not if I don't have any meaningful thing to say other than the aforementioned statements... because "Seven Samurais" is coming up, and I'm really getting a "Godfather" vibe from this. :P We all know how well my review for that movie turned out, haha.

Anyway, just wanted a perspective on this, that's all. After two great movies that didn't connect with me (Children of Men and Under the Skin), I would love to hear what you think I should do. It could be movie-fatigue, but I highly doubt it. I've been watching consecutive movies for the Top 100 Club for the past few weeks now with no negative effects.
Title: Re: On Writing
Post by: Bondo on April 14, 2016, 11:41:35 AM
I'm gonna go ahead and blame movie fatigue for the Children of Men one, that film is great (who has two thumbs and would say greatest...this guy). But not getting Under The Skin is perfectly understandable. I'm gonna go ahead and lower your expectations on Seven Samurai while I'm at it. Is there a value to a review if you don't connect with it? I suppose it depends if you have anything interesting to speculate about why it didn't land. I'm watching a film right now (Testament of Youth) that is completely thudding for me, just feels completely safe. Probably won't bother to type anything.
Title: Re: On Writing
Post by: Paul Phoenix on April 14, 2016, 12:03:27 PM
Is there a value to a review if you don't connect with it? I suppose it depends if you have anything interesting to speculate about why it didn't land. I'm watching a film right now (Testament of Youth) that is completely thudding for me, just feels completely safe. Probably won't bother to type anything.

That's a good point. Usually though, the reasons are the same (multiple reviews and perspectives confusing my verdict, this film is mundane and didn't compel or excite me, etc.), which is why I didn't want to beat a dead horse. I guess these points are still worth bringing up to reflect the way I watch movies, if nothing more than that. Otherwise, I suppose I've posted enough reviews in the Top 100 Club already that I could just skip those I don't have anything interesting to say about. Maybe just post a quick reaction in "Respond to the last movie you watched" instead of posting a review.
Title: Re: On Writing
Post by: verbALs on April 14, 2016, 12:08:09 PM
That would deny yourself the utility of writing a review of the most difficult type. One you might read after and find....your own self staring out at you muhahaha.  ;D
Title: Re: On Writing
Post by: Paul Phoenix on April 14, 2016, 12:18:17 PM
That would deny yourself the utility of writing a review of the most difficult type. One you might read after and find....your own self staring out at you muhahaha.  ;D

Haha, I expected no less from someone who takes writing as seriously as you. 8) It's true that such difficult reviews can be a mountain worth conquering, like Everest. The reward of discovering something new about your perspective is always welcomed. I guess that's what rewatches are for though; pick a good day with the right mood to analyze and examine.

In fact, this makes me think of those lists of shame. Maybe I could even round up reviews I'm not satisfied with and make them into a list. ;D
Title: Re: On Writing
Post by: 1SO on April 14, 2016, 12:35:04 PM
That would deny yourself the utility of writing a review of the most difficult type. One you might read after and find....your own self staring out at you muhahaha.  ;D

I never forget when I wrote about Eat Drink Man Woman (http://www.filmspotting.net/forum/index.php?topic=9536.msg712529#msg712529) and Big Fan (http://www.filmspotting.net/forum/index.php?topic=11349.msg721310#msg721310). Two very difficult posts. I still can only skim the Big Fan post.
Title: Re: On Writing
Post by: verbALs on April 14, 2016, 12:39:25 PM
Like wrestling a large bear to the ground...or trying. But you learn by doing.
Title: Re: On Writing
Post by: Paul Phoenix on April 14, 2016, 12:46:43 PM
I never forget when I wrote about Eat Drink Man Woman (http://www.filmspotting.net/forum/index.php?topic=9536.msg712529#msg712529) and Big Fan (http://www.filmspotting.net/forum/index.php?topic=11349.msg721310#msg721310). Two very difficult posts. I still can only skim the Big Fan post.

Those 'Further Thoughts' on Big Fan is a good read. Very inspiring, writing enthusiastically for the good people of Filmspotting with the intent to invoke discussion.
Title: Re: On Writing
Post by: oldkid on April 14, 2016, 01:03:15 PM
For me, it's less about being concerned on whether or not others on the forum think I'm not a very good writer, but more about whether or not I can adequately contribute to the forum through my reviews.  My reviews are pretty much always personal, or this is what moved me, this is what I didn't like, and that has been expressed in the past by some forum members as not being "good" reviews.  Personally, I never read a review from someone and think "Man, that was badly written."  I try and figure out what compelled this person to write the review, do I agree or disagree with their take on the film, if I haven't seen this film, does this make me want to see the film now.  So, it's less about caring if you like or don't like my writing, it's more about whether my review actually has an impact on someone or if it is contributing to the forum as a whole.  Like I said before, I write scientifically, which means, what is the most succinct way to effectively convey my point.  I am a great editor when it comes to reading scientific manuscripts, I can cut and slash all of the "flowery" writing out of it to make it clear and concise.  Does that translate into critical film reviews?  Maybe, maybe not.  I won't know if I don't write more, which I constantly think I should.


There are many reasons for writing reviews on the forum.  Some may use it to build up their writing skills, others use it as an opportunity to connect to the community, some in the hopes of being a platform for discussion.  I would also say that every review gives us perspective on a film, and on art in general.  Every single contribution feeds us all with a unique point of view.  Martin will often opine that he doesn't feel it necessary to write a review because he has nothing new to say about a particular film, yet he is always helping me see what I had never experienced about a film.  And that is the same of all the writers here.  That is not always the case with reviewers on, say, Letterboxd, but the level of quality is generally higher on this forum.  To write for the forum is to offer everyone the individual perspective which becomes a part of something bigger than that one point of view.  We don't all need that, but every single person who contributes provides something unique and important.
Title: Re: On Writing
Post by: Corndog on May 06, 2016, 10:20:09 AM
After missing this thread since it's inception, I have taken the time to catch up with all the posts, which took a while, and add my two cents. Before I jump into any topics, I just want to say that there is a lot here I agree with, and have appreciated both the thought and care put into the discussion in this thread. This will probably be a long post as I attempt to touch on a number of subjects, which will hopefully add to the discussion here.

My Story (Why I Write)
My history with movies and this forum is a long one, as I have been a member here for 7 years already (wow, that seems like much longer than it has felt)! I first got into movies in college when I had too much spare time to know what to do with and so I started watching whatever my roommates had, and then whatever my friends had. It didn't matter what it was, I wanted to watch it. Soon I had subscribed to Netflix and had sought out an outlet to learn more, which led me to the Filmspotting podcast. I loved it right away and was inspired by what Adam and Matty were discussing and it helped to form my own thought process while viewing movies (more on this later). I had heard mention of the forum from time to time on the podcast, so I joined up and began very tentatively, as other have said, there was (and still is) a great amount of film knowledge on these forums. My first review (http://www.filmspotting.net/forum/index.php?topic=1028.msg255072#msg255072) and reveal of my biggest shames (http://www.filmspotting.net/forum/index.php?topic=3663.msg254575#msg254575) go a long way in showing how little I knew then, and how far my knowledge and writing ability has come as well. Much of this has to do with the great, encouraging, and engaging community I found here. And while some of the names have changed, many remain and new faces have come to perpetuate that same sense of community.

Anyway, so I started writing here and my love of movies really began to blossom to the point that my friends encouraged me to start a blog to collect my primitive writings. That is when I started Corndog Chats Cinema (there were other iterations which included non-film speak which are now defunct). It was a simple blog where I simply reposted my reviews and thoughts from what I shared here. It was my home for a very long time. Over time, my ability to write grew and I graduated from a few lines in a review to my current "format", which I'll touch on later in greater detail.

I had become so engrossed by the process and experience of watching and writing about movies that I put myself out there to a stranger at an advanced screening who said he was looking for writers for his site. Not really having any ambition prior to that, I threw my hat into the ring because it got me on the press list in Columbus, Ohio for advanced screenings. No more hoping to get the email and sign up for passes in time on Gofobo. No more waiting two hours in line to make sure I got into the theater. To my surprise, the Owens Group, who puts on these screenings, said they would add me to their list on the merit of my site, not the one the guy ran. I wrote for his site, essentially reposting reviews from my own, for a few months, then it fizzled out, but I maintained my "press" credential for advanced screenings. My purpose was solely selfish. While I represented "press", my motivations were to get to see free movies before they came out, and who can blame me?

It was at this time, however, where I began to feel a certain obligation to write reviews of the films I was seeing for free. Certainly this takes some of the fun out of it, but I genuinely loved, and still do, watching and writing about movies. There is something about it that is addictive in some ways. So while 1 in 10 movies I didn't feel like writing about, the other 9 inspired me to do it anyway. Flash forward a few years later, and I have finally branched out to my own domain with a fancy new layout at CorndogChats.com (http://CorndogChats.com) and am now proudly a member of the Central Ohio Film Critics Association, which is really just a label. It was never, and is still not, my ambition to make film writing a full time job. It is still just a hobby, just a hobby which is probably more intense and time consuming than many other people's hobbies.

In the end, I write for the same reasons I wrote back when I started. For myself. For me, writing is a way to express my thoughts, and to help organize them, analyze them, and form them. Without writing, I may see a movie, exit the theater, and go home, thinking very little of what I just saw. The exercise in critical thinking when approaching a movie and writing about it is very rewarding to me. I hope I never lose this. Filmspotting is a good training ground for me, and no matter how far I've come, or how far I'll go, it will always be that place, because we can all be better, even if many of us are very good already. To that point, whether anyone responds to anything I write is just an added bonus. Because I write for my own understanding, if someone responds and encourages me, or begins a discussion with me, then I take that as extra, and it is very nice and fun when that happens. If one of my reviews goes unnoticed, or uncommented on, I don't get discouraged. That's not the main reason I write.

Personally, I've always struggled with my participation here on the forum. I know I participate quite a bit, but regardless I always seem to have this fear that I am posting more reviews and thoughts I have than responding to others, almost as though I am expecting others to comment and respond to my posts while I somehow ignore others. I hope it doesn't appear this way. I really do try to read as much as I can and respond to as much as I can, but like everyone else here has pretty much said, life is busy. I would love to read every post here, but it's impossible. I sometimes even fall into the bad habit of even skimming posts just to get through all the responses to make sure I'm simply not missing any big discussion, while likely missing the opportunity to join many other small ones.

Process

I think I've touched on my writing process a few times above, but wanted to go into a little more detail here. As I said, I have settled into a fairly standard structure to my reviews, as I am sure many of you have noticed. I hope this does not limit myself, as I try not to let it, and I hope it doesn't discourage people from reading my reviews for either length or boring "structure", though I would understand either. I'm not sure at which point I came to adopt this "structure", but I am sure it coincided with my growth not just as a writer but as a film observer, simply having more to talk about and knowing how to talk about it, like I somewhat knew what I was doing. I try to balance my reviews with both personal and more technical tidbits. My opening paragraph is often geared toward making a connection to the film in some personal way or summarizing my feelings toward one or more of the film's cast and crew. The second is then a summary of the plot, which often attempts to incorporate who is in the film from a cast perspective. The next two paragraphs allow me to expound upon my thoughts on the movie, which range from technical aspects, performances, themes, etc. Whatever tickles my fancy. I usually try to summarize my thoughts with my final paragraph, though sometimes other stuff seeps into it from the previous paragraphs. As I said, though, I try not to limit myself by structure, so in come cases, my reviews will be longer than 5 paragraphs, just depending on how much I have there to talk about.

My reviews are often quickly written in a single, stream of consciousness approach. I certainly have the structure in mind, and a number of things in my mind I would like to talk about, but it mostly comes and goes without much preparation or editing afterward. Sometimes I wish I was more stringent on editing myself after writing, or coming into it with an outline or list of things to talk about, but this isn't my profession, and I don't want to take things too seriously. So I don't. Certainly my current standing as a member of the "press" (notice I'm using quotation marks because I don't really consider myself press), and part of the COFCA, informs my content and structure, but ultimately I still write for the forum. I still post my reviews here, hoping to be part of a discussion or to start one.

On that note, to touch on some things discussed in this thread earlier, I want to talk about outside sources, reading reviews before seeing a film, etc. I mentioned earlier in my post how I wish I read more posts and responded to them more. My general process and preference is to avoid any and all talk on a movie I plan to see at some point in the future. So I will completely pass over discussions related to movies I haven't seen. I could do better to circle back to them after, but I like to at least form my opinion on a film in a vacuum as much as possible before becoming a part of the conversation. I'd like to think my review is only the beginning of my understanding and discussion of a film, a starting point where I can then go out and read more and discuss more with others their views and understanding of the film. There are some cases, however, where I film will perplex me, or I will struggle to form an opinion or write about it. I have, on some occasions, gone and read reviews of a film prior to writing my own. Often times when I do this, I will incorporate those thoughts which helped me into my own review by saying something as simple as "After reading Roger Ebert's review where he said...", etc.

I am fine with any process and structure any member here chooses to use. There is no wrong answer. We all watch movies, write about movies, and discuss movies for a variety of reasons. With this post I am merely attempting to express my reasons.

Ratings
I have rated movies for a while now, and I know some people do, some people don't. For a while I stopped giving out ratings because I often feared people would skip my writing for the rating at the bottom, not getting a whole sense of why I rated it that way. I eventually realized this was selfish of me, and served my "readership" no purpose other than to likely frustrate them, especially in reviews where I was unable to clearly express whether I liked something or not. The inclusion of a rating helps categorize things, and for my own purposes I have become a stats nut who keeps stats on everything and rating help fuel that addiction. But if someone doesn't have the time or energy to read my full review, that's fine, I can at least provide a rating where they can quickly see how I liked the film. I finally came to the realization that I write for myself first and foremost. If anyone reads my actual review, well then that's gravy.

Film Selection
As I have garnered more obligations in my movie hobby, whether it be from screenings or otherwise, I have found myself more constricted by what I watch. But I'm okay with that, and I actually enjoy that structure. As many have likely noticed, I have started lots of different overly-ambitious marathons through the years, and I have even started more new ones. I take pride in my marathons, and I truly hope to see them to their conclusion. The process is what is fun for me. But with so many movies I "have to watch", there isn't a whole lot of space to fill with movies I want to see on a whim. For this reason, movie watching has become an obligation for me, but like I said, one I enjoy. I enjoy the structure. A lot of this is because it forces me to write about these movies. It would be easy for me to sit there are watch all 56 of my Baseball movies for instance, not write about them, and ultimately get very little out of the experience other than some fleeting enjoyment. By forcing myself to reflect on these films, write about them, and consider them together, I get a much greater amount of personal enjoyment from the marathon. The same with any of my other marathons, or new releases which I see and am obligated to write about because they're advanced screenings. It would be all to easy for me to regress into not writing, or writing very little after seeing a film. There are certainly exceptions, like my Top 100 Marathon which features some shorter reviews, but even there, it forces me to at least record some thoughts on the film after watching it.



I would encourage anyone and everybody to post and write as much as they like, newcomers and veterans alike. I know I personally have grown so much as a writer and film consumer just simply by throwing my hat in the ring and allowing this great community to both nurture me and challenge me. There is no wrong or right way to write either, though we can all get better. I may write a 5 paragraph format review, but it's no better or more insightful than on of Hermit's longform reviews, or smirnoff's gif/screenshot laden reviews, or flieger's screenshot only "reviews", or oneaprilday's extended analysis reviews, or 1SO, or Martin, or anyone! There is validity in all reviews because they are written by an individual, meant to communicate an individual's experience. I write for myself, but not everyone has to, and even though I ultimately write for myself, I share my thoughts with others, such that they can be known, discussed, and so I can help create and uphold the community which has been developed here, so that it can continue to be a safe haven for film lovers, a place where newbies and experts alike can contribute meaningful things to the conversation.
Title: Re: On Writing
Post by: verbALs on May 06, 2016, 12:50:53 PM
That's a very considered piece CD. Kinda covers the entire subject. I'm glad it progressed into the area of reviews it has for you. It's interesting how reviewing on that basis will bring you to movies you have no real interest in.
Title: Re: On Writing
Post by: Junior on May 06, 2016, 02:09:54 PM
Agreed. That was a great read.

I wanted to note, though, that I (and I can only speak for myself for obvious reasons) wasn't really talking about referring to outside sources within reviews. You present a good case for doing that in certain situations and I'm always interested in hearing where certain ideas come from and if you're building off of somebody else's thoughts. But I was referring more to the discussions/writing that does more than evaluate a film. If somebody points out how a movie is operating in a way that I hadn't thought of before and I want to tell you all about it, I'm not going to say I came up with this great idea. I'm going to say I read this thing and they came up with this great idea and here are my further thoughts on the subject, let's chat about it. I still don't really understand why anybody would not want to engage in that conversation, or find that to be a poor place/way to start one. But I'm also kinda dumb, so maybe that explains it.
Title: Re: On Writing
Post by: Corndog on May 06, 2016, 02:37:09 PM
That's a very considered piece CD. Kinda covers the entire subject. I'm glad it progressed into the area of reviews it has for you. It's interesting how reviewing on that basis will bring you to movies you have no real interest in.

Thanks verbALs.

If somebody points out how a movie is operating in a way that I hadn't thought of before and I want to tell you all about it, I'm not going to say I came up with this great idea. I'm going to say I read this thing and they came up with this great idea and here are my further thoughts on the subject, let's chat about it. I still don't really understand why anybody would not want to engage in that conversation, or find that to be a poor place/way to start one.

I'm on your side with this one.



I'd love to hear about other's approaches to writing about a film and formulating a review. How do you watch movies, and do you watch them with the intent to write about them, or do you decide to write about them after something about the movie moves you to do so?

Obviously I've stated that I intend to write about pretty much everything I see, but I don't want to be that guy in the theater with a notebook taking notes during the movie, even though I sometimes wish I was. There are moments when I try and reflect on the movie and I struggle with a detail here or there I wish I had a note on, or even to write things down to remind myself to FYC it for Filmspots. There are times too when I'll think of a topic or even a specific line I would like to use in my subsequent review that I usually forget about by the time I get around to writing my review, which goes back to me talking about how quickly I often write my reviews once I get to them.

That's the other thing I failed to talk about, how much time between seeing the movie and writing about it? I'm sure the answer to this one varies greatly, but because I have such a calculated method for my writing, I never write about a movie I just watched hours earlier. Usually I will try to sleep on it, let it sink in a little and allow myself to process things a little bit before thinking about formulating a written response. I was listening to Adam and Josh today on the latest episode, and they mentioned how they basically walked from the theater to the studio to record their review of CAPTAIN AMERICA. I don't think I could do that. I like to have a little bit of a processing time to help remember as much as I can about the film, and as I said, formulate a rough outline if at least in my head about what I want to talk about. Responding so soon I would fear I would leave things out inadvertently.
Title: Re: On Writing
Post by: Sandy on May 06, 2016, 05:05:11 PM
Corndog, you've laid out a thorough essay on the conversations here. I was just going to quietly reflect on it all, but then you posed questions and I want you to know I read what you've said and what you've asked...

I've commented before, that I began writing "reviews" as a way to participate here on the forum, besides just playing the games. I also did it to face my fear of writing and to see what I had to say. I'm much less fearful now, partly because you're all so accommodating and not scary at all! :)

Movies are ways for me to expand my understanding. Exploring, through words, is my way of processing what I'm experiencing. I have no format. I usually hope that something will spark a paragraph at least and have sat looking at a blank screen for a long time on many occasions, waiting for inspiration!

If I'm watching a movie with someone and am processing with them, I don't always write about it afterwards, because it feels complete and I can put it to rest. But, I mostly watch movies alone, or with others who aren't into delving in, so I write. I do better if I strike while the iron is hot, but sometimes I'm either overwhelmed or at a loss, so I wait a day to see if I'm in a better place. I also don't like watching another movie, until I've got the one that I'm pondering on taken care of. I want closure, before exploring some more. The thing is, is that I want to explore a ton, but my writing and time aren't always accommodating, so I watch and absorb at the rate I can and have to reconcile myself to enjoying the large amounts of viewing and writing that my fellow filmspotters are doing. :)

I should say, if a movie doesn't bring me much in the way of discovery, I'll easily let it go and write nothing about it.

Thanks for the opportunity to ponder, Corndog!
Title: Re: On Writing
Post by: DarkeningHumour on May 06, 2016, 11:10:33 PM
It is a testament to your writing that you produced that long a piece that is structured and seamless to read. But...

I thought you wrote for a living. It was actually comforting because I think you are one of the best writers in here. Now I have no excuse to not write as well. Damn you Corndog !  ;)

About that waiting period between the watch and the review. Mine is conditioned by work and general business. I will often watch a movie at night but not have a free moment to write for days - not to mention that I am wont to be lazy and procrastinate it. So, although I try to review as fast as possible, not to forget the movie or what I wanted to say, sometimes days or even weeks can go by before I finish writing. How long has it been since I watched GBU ? I also prioritise a new watch over writing and the longest pending reviews, so that increases the backlog.

Perhaps I will get to some of your other questions some time later, but right now I am short on time.
Title: Re: On Writing
Post by: verbALs on May 07, 2016, 02:11:21 AM
I'm not sure about process any more. The objective was to write to understand storytelling. Write about that over encompassing process and gain a working knowledge of how art communicates feeling. So writing is a means to an end not the end in itself. If I describe a film as a ouija board where the movie guides my hand; spiritually, emotionally and thematically. So the closer I get to being overtaken by that film the more successful is the experience. Writing/ reviewing (I'm only getting comfortable with using that word attached to anything I write at this point) is a vessel the film can flow into. I'm communicating how the film works if the colour and substance of the review resembles the film watching experience even a little. If all this seems a little free form then I'm getting close to what I want to get out of writing. I should be communicating the emotion of that film watching experience; especially enthusiasm. I'm not sure if I communicate anything else to anyone else because what I've described is a closed internal loop. I feed back to myself to help me watch  the next movie. Mea culpa.
Title: Re: On Writing
Post by: Paul Phoenix on May 08, 2016, 09:52:13 AM
So you want me to engage about a film that doesn't exist? Why would I want to do that? Just to clarify the film I mentioned has plot points designed for a ten year old to understand. That's all I said. Yes it would be argumentative to have that...argument but I'm not am I? It would be boring. I haven't even mentioned the film's name so I feel you are stretching my intention to have an argument a long way. It's a fallacy to accuse someone of doing what they are trying to address.

Well, I apologize then, but I have stated that I didn't see the film, so it should be easy to understand why I had taken your statement in a more general context, instead of one applying to the film (a film of which its context I'm not aware of to begin with). Bringing up the intelligence of a ten year old could easily cause such misunderstandings.

That said, why wouldn't you want to engage another member about a film he would like to see? You are free to express about a film that exists, but would it be such a crime to entertain another member's musings and imaginations? If someone annoys you so much with his musings unrelated to the film at hand, then just ignore him. Unless he made a personal attack against someone else, I don't see why it's such a problem to just leave him be. Or like I said, engage him about his musings, to show that you care about that person. No need to get all uptight and authoritative about a film. It's just a film, for god's sake. Your fellow members are more important than films!

All of these done in the name of not just respect, but kindness. Kindness for another member is why anybody sensible enough would want to engage about a film that doesn't exist.
Title: Re: On Writing
Post by: verbALs on May 08, 2016, 11:23:33 AM
That point about the people being more important than the films. Would you be here if the discussion was about pottery? Just because it was the same people? Perhaps I can make my position even clearer than I already have by saying that I wouldn't if the forum was devoted to knitting and 1SO were complaining about a complicated pattern. I've also been around long enough  to have heard many different non sequitur arguments including the one about "why can't everyone just be nice" and I found it amusing enough the first five times it was tried.  ;D

I ve challenged a view of a film which is tangential to the film itself. There are many millions of other versions of this film that someone might imagine but only one version of this film. So that fundamental idea of why discuss any other film than thr one that was actually made? I'm afraid "cos it would be nice of you" and "if you can't be nice don't say anything"? I'm going to say those rebuttals don't carry much weight with me. In fact they'd kind a little arguementative. Ad hominem even. So we can all play that card if we want....just as an example. Challenging an idea expressed in a review isn't in itself arguementative but it can be framed that way. As you've proved.
Title: Re: On Writing
Post by: Paul Phoenix on May 08, 2016, 12:14:32 PM
That point about the people being more important than the films. Would you be here if the discussion was about pottery? Just because it was the same people? Perhaps I can make my position even clearer than I already have by saying that I wouldn't if the forum was devoted to knitting and 1SO were complaining about a complicated pattern. I've also been around long enough  to have heard many different non sequitur arguments including the one about "why can't everyone just be nice" and I found it amusing enough the first five times it was tried.  ;D

I ve challenged a view of a film which is tangential to the film itself. There are many millions of other versions of this film that someone might imagine but only one version of this film. So that fundamental idea of why discuss any other film than thr one that was actually made? I'm afraid "cos it would be nice of you" and "if you can't be nice don't say anything"? I'm going to say those rebuttals don't carry much weight with me. In fact they'd kind a little arguementative. Ad hominem even. So we can all play that card if we want....just as an example. Challenging an idea expressed in a review isn't in itself arguementative but it can be framed that way. As you've proved.

Fine, challenging an idea isn't argumentative. So what? What does a challenging view have anything to do with encouraging member discussions (my point to begin with)? You're distorting what I said to call my opinion "amusing"? What's the matter with you? I was trying to enforce the notion that we should be more encouraging towards our members by NOT calling their opinion something as disparaging as a "conversation closer". It's a narrow-minded attitude IMO that doesn't welcome further discussions and instead drives people away. Like for instance, what I'm doing right now. Does my implication of you being narrow-minded make you feel good on the inside?

I would also kindly request the desist of these accusations; 'play this card', 'play that card'. I'm not trying to 'win' an argument here, so no, I'm not playing any cards. When I said "it would be nice of you", I really meant it would be nice of people to encourage each other instead of disparage. Such an act can only be for the improvement of the community, so I see no reason why I have to 'play any card' like there's some kind of prize to win. My only intent right now is to come to a peaceful solution here, so further focus on semantics isn't really going to help anyone. It's not engaging with the opposite party in a conversation with mutual benefits, it's nitpicking every little thing the other guy is saying just to prove how right you are.

Furthermore, I think you missed a fundamental point I was making. Let me give you an example of what I meant, so that I could make my position clearer. Say I wrote a review about Wanted, and Junior talks about the movie in his own perspective.

Huh! I didn't know that Millar had script approval. That's, um, unfortunate. I do love The Loom of Fate, which I understand is not in the comic. I kind of think that it speaks well of him to let that slide. You're right, too. The escapism is strong with this one. If only it didn't feel like it had to put down the people doing the escaping, it'd be a much stronger movie (there I go again, making up a movie in my mind).

In a very generalized sense, what if I say, "But that's not what the movie was trying to do, Junior. It's escapism, and should be appreciated as that. By wishing it as a different film, you don't contribute to the discussion." Do you know what the general translation of that is? "Your opinion is wrong, Junior. Make a better opinion - or else."

'Nuff said. I've got a feeling you're going to pick apart everything I said instead of addressing the main issue again, to which I'll simply state again that we should compromise and engage in what the person is trying to say, even if he digress from the main point of the film.
Title: Re: On Writing
Post by: verbALs on May 08, 2016, 12:38:38 PM
Quote
. Like for instance, what I'm doing right now. Does my implication of you being narrow-minded make you feel good on the inside 

No what you should have worked out by now is that being personal with me has absolutely no effect at all. I'm not that that thin skinned and affecting an offended attitude is just internet obfuscation from my PoV. It's just another tangent to avoid the point in question. It's a bit dull but why would I care? The only surprise is that you would assume I would care. You can't pull my strings from 10000 miles away and I would sincerely hope I couldn't yank yours either. You are mistaking a challenge for some kind of playground game which is disappointing.
Title: Re: On Writing
Post by: Junior on May 08, 2016, 12:40:05 PM
Ok ok ok. I think we're good here.
Title: Re: On Writing
Post by: Paul Phoenix on May 08, 2016, 12:40:47 PM
Quote
. Like for instance, what I'm doing right now. Does my implication of you being narrow-minded make you feel good on the inside 

No what you should have worked out by now is that being personal with me has absolutely no effect at all. I'm not that that thin skinned and affecting an offended attitude is just internet obfuscation from my PoV. It's just another tangent to avoid the point in question. It's a bit dull but why would I care? The only surprise is that you would assume I would care. You can't pull my strings from 10000 miles away and I would sincerely hope I couldn't yank yours either. You are mistaking a challenge for some kind of playground game which is disappointing.

And you mistake my hope to engage you in why I felt unhappy about all this as some kind of 'pull' to manipulate you, which is disappointing as well. Respect but no trust, huh verbs? I'm not surprised about that part.

I'm done, Junior. Whatever comes next will be on verbALs.
Title: Re: On Writing
Post by: Junior on May 08, 2016, 12:45:31 PM
It'd be great if nothing came next.
Title: Re: On Writing
Post by: ses on May 08, 2016, 01:05:59 PM
I agree, please move on and get this thread back on track. If you must continue this conversation do so via PM.
Title: Re: On Writing
Post by: pixote on May 08, 2016, 01:50:27 PM
It'd be great if nothing came next.

That's my waking thought most days.

(Not really. Life is good.)

pixote
Title: Re: On Writing
Post by: Junior on May 08, 2016, 01:52:49 PM
Lol. Of course I say that and then the new Radiohead doesn't appear on Google Play Music when it should and I've screwed myself over. I'm the worst, is what I'm saying.
Title: Re: On Writing
Post by: verbALs on May 16, 2016, 12:46:48 AM
Encouraging discussion over arguing would appear to be a valid, generally desirable aim. Aim as in aim in that general direction; rather than a target to be hit with every single word written.

Personally I'm a tremendous hypocrite. I'm actually an awful person. Much worse than anyone here appreciates. I've done terrible things that nobody here can even guess at. So I hope that stops anyone trying. I admit it so there's no need to keep wondering. I agree with every comment made, only its a lot worse than you can imagine. I'm awful.

So now I've answered that question and I've saved everyone time trying to prove it, further.  ;D I'd like to get back to stating that the aim of encouraging discussion rather than arguing is what I would like for the forum. I personally think the difference between discussion and argument is obvious but just for clarification;

Argument leaves the responder with a choice of fight or flight. Either accept the extreme opposite position that the argument forces you towards or take a subservient position; accepting the accusation was correct and you were wrong. The nature of arguing is you win or lose. This needs explaining? Look at the nature of the Internet for as many examples as you need. If it talks, walks and quacks like the Internet then chances are it's the Internet. Encouraging discussion doesn't look like that. The nature of encouragement is there for us to discuss.

Of course I'm a complete hypocrite (honestly I accept that) but why ignore a totally positive message looking for an argument?

Title: Re: On Writing
Post by: saltine on May 16, 2016, 01:42:24 AM
Honestly, verbAls, 2 admins and a mod indicated that this discussion is over and to move on.  You are on a dangerous track by persisting here.  Please desist.
Title: Re: On Writing
Post by: verbALs on May 16, 2016, 02:29:39 AM
Ok. I apologize.
Title: Re: On Writing
Post by: mańana on May 16, 2016, 11:41:32 PM
It'd be great if nothing came next.
That's my waking thought most days.
I totally thought that said 'wanking'. Really disappointed to learn otherwise.
Title: Re: On Writing
Post by: verbALs on June 03, 2016, 11:41:45 AM
Just an observation. Reviews are getting shorter seemingly.

In the Smirnoff scheme of things this would be a positive development. Taking that side of the discussion I would say that brevity and concision are both positive attributes. Taking the other side I would say that a complex subject as examined in most movies of intellectual value deserve a considered and complete answer.

Dunno. I was interested in other people's opinions rather than wanting to slap one on the table me self.
Title: Re: On Writing
Post by: Junior on June 03, 2016, 11:54:28 AM
I wrote ~55 pages of double spaced pages in the past two weeks. That was, excessive. My reviews have gotten shorter for the most part because of school, I just don't feel like writing as much because I want to save my energy for something I'll be graded on. The summer won't have that problem, so the reviews I write will probably get longer.

I think you can cram a lot of ideas into a short review and say next to nothing in a long one. I know I've done both. Length is not indicative of anything other than that the writer spent more or less time saying what they wanted to say.
Title: Re: On Writing
Post by: oldkid on June 03, 2016, 10:26:57 PM
In the last couple weeks my reviews have gotten longer, I think.
Title: Re: On Writing
Post by: DarkeningHumour on June 06, 2016, 09:35:53 AM
I am still working on writing shorter, more condensed reviews to be able to write about more movies. It is not going well...
Title: Re: On Writing
Post by: 1SO on June 06, 2016, 11:30:34 PM
Most people here have a standard format for their review posts. I don't because I don't want to be locked into a style when the movie may not call for it. Sometimes, even a great film won't have a memorable image, just like a bad one may have some shots that help explain my position. I'm curious if anyone is even bothered by the way my review posts vary.

I actually spent the day trying to figure out how to best format my review of The Killing of Sister George (http://www.filmspotting.net/forum/index.php?topic=13702.msg840971#msg840971). Since it's not a film that appears on people's radars and my review wasn't going to increase that possibility, I didn't want to waste time with a lot of paragraphs. However, I had a lot to say about its aim, how wide it missed the mark and whether it's an offensive film. The screenshot was a last minute decision because I wanted to show the extreme wardrobe differences. While looking for that I found the moment where Susannah York is clutching her doll, and I knew this had to be part of the review.

Also, I tried to avoid using the word bulldyke because I don't know if it's offensive slang. Is there a more proper way to say that, because "masculine lesbian" doesn't sound right. Also is it one word or two or is there a hyphen in the middle. Either way, I'm glad that I managed to avoid the term altogether, though I wonder if that type of situation will scare off participation. In talking about LGBT films, nobody wants to offend through our own ignorance.
Title: Re: On Writing
Post by: smirnoff on June 06, 2016, 11:55:14 PM
Also, I tried to avoid using the word bulldyke because I don't know if it's offensive slang. Is there a more proper way to say that, because "masculine lesbian" doesn't sound right.

No matter how much you want not to offend, and no matter how much you stress that point, you'll upset someone no matter which name you use. Safest bet, use the characters actual name. ;)
Title: Re: On Writing
Post by: 1SO on June 07, 2016, 12:03:55 AM
The slur wasn't meant to replace their names. The three women are 1968 outsider representations of three different types of lesbians. Because I couldn't be sure of a proper adjective, I went with the photo, which at least starkly contrasts the two leads.
Title: Re: On Writing
Post by: pixote on June 07, 2016, 12:05:55 AM
"Butch lesbian" is the non-offensive epithet you're looking for.

pixote
Title: Re: On Writing
Post by: DarkeningHumour on June 07, 2016, 04:49:13 AM
Most people here have a standard format for their review posts. I don't because I don't want to be locked into a style when the movie may not call for it. Sometimes, even a great film won't have a memorable image, just like a bad one may have some shots that help explain my position. I'm curious if anyone is even bothered by the way my review posts vary.

You do have a format to your reviews though, or a least a loose style. You almost always focus on the actors, describing how good or not they are and often placing the movie in their filmography. You also usually comment on how the movie relates to its genre if it has one and find somewhere to mention the script and the director. You rarely really go into the plot and many of your first paragraphs are thoughts that may or may not directly concern the movie and then you find your way back to the work at hand. 1SO reviews are pretty recognizable.
Title: Re: On Writing
Post by: MartinTeller on June 07, 2016, 09:28:32 AM
Most people here have a standard format for their review posts. I don't because I don't want to be locked into a style when the movie may not call for it. Sometimes, even a great film won't have a memorable image, just like a bad one may have some shots that help explain my position. I'm curious if anyone is even bothered by the way my review posts vary.

You do have a format to your reviews though, or a least a loose style. You almost always focus on the actors, describing how good or not they are and often placing the movie in their filmography. You also usually comment on how the movie relates to its genre if it has one and find somewhere to mention the script and the director. You rarely really go into the plot and many of your first paragraphs are thoughts that may or may not directly concern the movie and then you find your way back to the work at hand. 1SO reviews are pretty recognizable.

Yeah I agree with this. At any rate, the Sister George review did not at all stand out to me as "oh, this is a weird review for 1SO to write!"
Title: Re: On Writing
Post by: 1SO on August 29, 2016, 09:17:29 AM
verbALS, what do you have against paragraphs (http://www.filmspotting.net/forum/index.php?topic=12547.msg846772#msg846772)? I saw that review and had to take a deep breath before diving in.
Title: Re: On Writing
Post by: verbALs on August 29, 2016, 12:01:56 PM
Ha ha. At least, I haven't gotten to the point of no capitals and no punctuation, which feels like the norm in some places. I'll separate it, arbitrarily, into three paragraphs so we both feel at home.  ;D

Thanks for persevering.  ;D
Title: Re: On Writing
Post by: 1SO on August 29, 2016, 12:47:32 PM
I'm genuinely curious about paragraphs. Is there a 3-paragraph system that's considered the norm for good writing? I usually make a new paragraph when I'm making a new point, but sometimes my point is only a sentence long so I either have to come up with a way to tie 2 points together or I end up with really small paragraphs. I guess an opinion post could be done...

Para 1. Why did I watch this?
Para 2. What's good about it?
Para 3. What's not good?

...with a summary statement or clever out line at the end of Paragraph 3. How does everyone else format their paragraphs?
Title: Re: On Writing
Post by: Sam the Cinema Snob on August 29, 2016, 02:11:47 PM
My super secret method:

1-Intro
2-Something like a Plot Summary
?-??-Important Ideas
?-Conclusion
Title: Re: On Writing
Post by: verbALs on August 29, 2016, 02:43:48 PM
I only realised I had a three paragraph structure, when you told me I did.  ;D

I noticed that if I was talking about a film I had seen before I had more to say, twice as many paragraphs; which, I think meant I had more to say about what the director felt about the themes...instead of just identifying what the themes were. Also in retrospect you can nail down where the film sits in respect to the directors other films or in that genre.

I can see the point of structure if you are writing to a paying audience. Otherwise this is another form of pleasing yourself....without the tidying up after. So do what you like.
Title: Re: On Writing
Post by: Sandy on August 29, 2016, 02:49:55 PM
I'm happy if I can produce one paragraph. :)
Title: Re: On Writing
Post by: Junior on August 29, 2016, 03:39:34 PM
I'm genuinely curious about paragraphs. Is there a 3-paragraph system that's considered the norm for good writing? I usually make a new paragraph when I'm making a new point, but sometimes my point is only a sentence long so I either have to come up with a way to tie 2 points together or I end up with really small paragraphs. I guess an opinion post could be done...

Para 1. Why did I watch this?
Para 2. What's good about it?
Para 3. What's not good?

...with a summary statement or clever out line at the end of Paragraph 3. How does everyone else format their paragraphs?

The answer to your first question is that it depends on what you call good writing and what the writing itself is. I think what you've outlined here is a pretty solid foundation to build on, so that works. In high school (and for the SAT) you're taught to do 5 paragraph essays which have a structure that looks like this:

1: Intro
2: First detail to support argument
3: Second detail to support  argument
4: Third detail to support argument
5: Conclusion

But that's also kinda BS. I'd say the sweet spot is somewhere between that rigid structure and verbALs' "do what I want" thing. The shift comes from your audience. Here, it's other people like us, so we can be a little looser with how and when we break paragraphs and structure because we're only doing it for our fellow filmspotters. If you start writing for a wider audience, you generally want to sand off some of the rougher edges so they don't stop reading what you've written halfway through. Giant walls of text are the quickest way to turn me off, because I'll get lost and then stop reading. Of course, writers like Pynchon and DFW do page-long paragraphs all the time and they are fine. But they are also geniuses, so good luck to those imitating them.
Title: Re: On Writing
Post by: Teproc on August 29, 2016, 04:23:11 PM
Academic writing in France is very structured, so when I write in English here I specifically do not worry about structure... also my English was mostly learnt watching TV shows and movies + the Internet/some reading (as you may know, we're not the greatest at teaching languages), so I figure it'd be pointless to try and produce something proper, and write from the hip, so to speak.

That being said, I do agree that verbAL's walls of text can be somewhat discouraging, but it's mostly psychological. I noticed on Letterbox'd I tend not to read long reviews simply because of how they look : the space for text there is just smaller, so even a reasonable paragraph can look pretty huge. Once you're reading it though, it doesn't make a huge difference for such relatively short pieces.
Title: Re: On Writing
Post by: pixote on August 29, 2016, 04:27:59 PM
but it's mostly psychological

For sure. I have diverse instinctual reactions to my own reviews, depending on whether I'm looking at them on a computer or on a phone.

pixote
Title: Re: On Writing
Post by: oneaprilday on August 29, 2016, 11:51:13 PM
In high school (and for the SAT) you're taught to do 5 paragraph essays which have a structure that looks like this:

1: Intro
2: First detail to support argument
3: Second detail to support  argument
4: Third detail to support argument
5: Conclusion

But that's also kinda BS.
5-paragraph essays are the worst, and in my experience usually look like this when students produce them:

P. 1. Intro: Here's an overly general, usually obvious, pretty uninteresting point.
P. 2: Here's one reason why my point is true.
P. 3. Here's another reason why my point is true.
P. 4. Here's another reason why my point is true.
P. 5. Thus, my point - let me just repeat that in case you missed it - is true.

I get why the 5-paragraph model is used as a teaching tool - it helps very young writers understand that an essay needs to revolve around a unified point, and every paragraph must link to that point in some way. Body paragraphs in this model, too, all follow the same basic structure (always beginning with a topic sentence), so students learn that paragraphs, too, like the overall essay, need to offer unity and coherence around a single point. 

One key problem with the model, though, is it teaches students they merely need to repeat a point or make a list of points, and so the thinking it produces is repetitive and simplistic (not to mention boring - for both writer and reader).

So, I spend a lot of time talking with my first-year college students about un-learning 5-paragraph writing/thinking and considering what it means to develop or evolve a complex idea. An essay still needs to be coherent (all the parts have to fit together); it needs a thesis (something it sets out to demonstrate, prove, support) - but the thesis is an idea, not just a simplistic statement, and just like real ideas (those that people might actually care about), the path to that idea can look a lot different, depending on the thinker/writer, depending on the audience, on the topic, and on a lot of things.  Within that context then, assuming an essay develops an idea, an essay can have 5 paragraphs or it can have 20; some paragraphs can be long, and some can be short; some paragraphs describe a thing; some paragraphs are a series of questions; some paragraphs offer an extended syllogism. The paragraphs depend, really, on what the unique idea being developed in the individual essay requires. 

That kind of writing, with no rigid model to squish an essay into, is harder - because it requires deeper, more complex, creative thinking - but it's also a lot more exciting because sometimes/often, you don't know exactly where you'll end up in your thinking/writing  :) (not true for the 5-paragraph model, where you already know that the conclusion merely repeats the introduction). 

I will agree though, Junior, that it takes a very good writer to make a very long paragraph successfully coherent - if a paragraph is, essentially, a unit of thought, offered up for the reader to digest, one unit at a time, a long paragraph can easily lose coherence; the logic and unity can break down if the thinking isn't crystal clear - the unit of thought becomes a mush of a bunch of thoughts.  And yes, while we could - and probably should - talk all day about what "good writing" is (happily, a frequent, repeated conversation in my English department), it's a real pain, as a reader, to try to digest a bunch of thoughts all mushed together, rather than a single thought at a time.  I think of a paragraph as a kind of extension of friendship to the reader: "here, I won't shove all my thinking at you at once; I'll give you one bit at a time, and we'll get there, step-by-step, together."

Title: Re: On Writing
Post by: Junior on August 30, 2016, 12:38:51 AM
That's some primo stuff right there, OAD. You're giving me teaching ideas! Thanks!

One thing I like to do is to not only use the readings I assign for class as discussion points but also as writing samples. I'll pick out something the writer does well, be it structure or a particularly good paragraph or use of quotes or whatever and try to guide my students towards understanding what the author is doing so they can try to emulate it or do something wildly different. But at least it's a break from the dreaded five paragraph essay. So if you want to see if you can break out from what you've always done, start by looking at what other people are doing and go from there.
Title: Re: On Writing
Post by: verbALs on August 30, 2016, 12:43:59 AM
The more complicated the thought, the longer the words, the longer the sentence, the longer the paragraph.

If you are writing about fist fights and car chases; writing like you're in a chat room suits the form. Writing about feelings or emotions; doing them justice, might be better served by longer forms. Pictures speak a thousand words, so describing images meant to convey strong emotions isn't going to translate well into one liners. Even a review which says "I liked the movie" begs for a clarification of what "like" means in that context, ones own context. "I like it" feels like emotionus interruptus to me. In retrospect that film Perfect Sense wasn't meant to be dissolved down into words. It was very complex. I won't be silly and put that post back into one paragraph but that form feels like it fit how the film made me feel.

@Teproc: your writing is especially impressive for not being your first language.
Title: Re: On Writing
Post by: oneaprilday on August 30, 2016, 01:44:05 PM
One thing I like to do is to not only use the readings I assign for class as discussion points but also as writing samples. I'll pick out something the writer does well, be it structure or a particularly good paragraph or use of quotes or whatever and try to guide my students towards understanding what the author is doing so they can try to emulate it or do something wildly different. But at least it's a break from the dreaded five paragraph essay. So if you want to see if you can break out from what you've always done, start by looking at what other people are doing and go from there.
Yes, this is great - and if you do this with a number of different writers who are excellent writers but very different in style (contrast, say, Annie Dillard, with Martin Luther King Jr.), students get the sense of how you can arrive at ideas by way of different, but all effective, routes.


The more complicated the thought, the longer the words, the longer the sentence, the longer the paragraph.
Not necessarily. A very complex thought can be communicated with relatively short words (they just have to be well-chosen! ;) ) and with short paragraphs and sentences (though, ideally, I'd say, you always have a mix of kinds of sentences and paragraphs - some longer and more complex, some simpler and punchier).
Title: Re: On Writing
Post by: verbALs on August 30, 2016, 02:24:41 PM
This was my opinion only. I'm not a good enough writer to do what you described. Probably you are. I wish I could read your writing here. I'm sad that I can't but of course that's your choice.

What I described was; having written 5 reviews over the weekend; the more complex the thought, the more complex the piece. The most complex film produced such a complex reaction it lost all structure paragraph wise; hence 1SO's reaction. So I'll stand by my opinion.

Actually let me credit the film maker since these are reviews. The most complex concept I wrote about was Miles Davis and what he represents within a complex artform. The film may have wanted to explore this ineffability but it never gets close so it doesn't stimulate any particular complicated observation in writing. David MacKenzie had such a strong personal handle on the emotional heft of his film that he delivered fully. Just identifying what themes are in his film is a bit basic. Talking about what they mean to MacKenzie and how he presents his own thoughts on the theme; what images he uses- that's where I want to be writing from.

Btw Virginia Woolf writes veerrrrrry long sentences which turn into page long paragraphs. It's quite a struggle to read.  ;D
Title: Re: On Writing
Post by: philip918 on August 30, 2016, 02:25:49 PM
A good argument is like telling a good story:

P. 1. Thesis
P. 2: Primary argument supporting thesis
P. 3. Counter-argument! And why it's wrong (secondary argument)
P. 4. Third argument grounded in emotional anecdote
P. 5. Closing argument tying 2-3 together
Title: Re: On Writing
Post by: oneaprilday on August 30, 2016, 04:38:53 PM
I wish I could read your writing here. I'm sad that I can't but of course that's your choice.
Oh, for world enough and time to do it all.  This used to be the only place I'd go online to talk/write about film, and I'm sad that things aren't so cozy now. Now, my film time, when I can get it, is split among sites, Letterboxd, Twitter, and the more formal outlet of Seattle Screen Scene. The advantages of going to other sites, of course, is getting to interact with a bigger community and other interesting people - and writing for SSS gets me into film festivals and that kind of thing, which is, of course, lovely. I miss the old days though.
Title: Re: On Writing
Post by: ses on August 30, 2016, 04:46:44 PM
I don't get on letterboxd enough, it would be great when you post new reviews on SSS if you posted the link around here. Like in "new post on my blog".
Title: Re: On Writing
Post by: oneaprilday on August 30, 2016, 06:01:49 PM
I don't get on letterboxd enough, it would be great when you post new reviews on SSS if you posted the link around here. Like in "new post on my blog".
I've felt weird about doing that since I'm not here as much as I wish I could be, responding to others' writing, but I'll put up some links if you'd like in the blog thread. :)  I'm back in teaching mode now and not doing much writing at all, but I did write a few reviews over the summer, eg. relative to SIFF.

Title: Re: On Writing
Post by: DarkeningHumour on October 15, 2016, 05:42:37 AM
I'm genuinely curious about paragraphs. Is there a 3-paragraph system that's considered the norm for good writing? I usually make a new paragraph when I'm making a new point, but sometimes my point is only a sentence long so I either have to come up with a way to tie 2 points together or I end up with really small paragraphs. I guess an opinion post could be done...

Para 1. Why did I watch this?
Para 2. What's good about it?
Para 3. What's not good?

...with a summary statement or clever out line at the end of Paragraph 3. How does everyone else format their paragraphs?

Paragraph changes reflect changes in ideas or a logical step forward. Sometimes I also change paragraphs for stylistic or rhythmic effect when I am feeling more literary. I have no set number of paragraphs or structure when writing though.

Thanks for fighting the good fight 1SO. Nothing feels more daunting than one massive block of text. It brings back PTSD flashbacks of Proust.

In high school (and for the SAT) you're taught to do 5 paragraph essays which have a structure that looks like this:

1: Intro
2: First detail to support argument
3: Second detail to support  argument
4: Third detail to support argument
5: Conclusion

But that's also kinda BS.
5-paragraph essays are the worst, and in my experience usually look like this when students produce them:

P. 1. Intro: Here's an overly general, usually obvious, pretty uninteresting point.
P. 2: Here's one reason why my point is true.
P. 3. Here's another reason why my point is true.
P. 4. Here's another reason why my point is true.
P. 5. Thus, my point - let me just repeat that in case you missed it - is true.

I get why the 5-paragraph model is used as a teaching tool - it helps very young writers understand that an essay needs to revolve around a unified point, and every paragraph must link to that point in some way. Body paragraphs in this model, too, all follow the same basic structure (always beginning with a topic sentence), so students learn that paragraphs, too, like the overall essay, need to offer unity and coherence around a single point. 

One key problem with the model, though, is it teaches students they merely need to repeat a point or make a list of points, and so the thinking it produces is repetitive and simplistic (not to mention boring - for both writer and reader).

So, I spend a lot of time talking with my first-year college students about un-learning 5-paragraph writing/thinking and considering what it means to develop or evolve a complex idea. An essay still needs to be coherent (all the parts have to fit together); it needs a thesis (something it sets out to demonstrate, prove, support) - but the thesis is an idea, not just a simplistic statement, and just like real ideas (those that people might actually care about), the path to that idea can look a lot different, depending on the thinker/writer, depending on the audience, on the topic, and on a lot of things.  Within that context then, assuming an essay develops an idea, an essay can have 5 paragraphs or it can have 20; some paragraphs can be long, and some can be short; some paragraphs describe a thing; some paragraphs are a series of questions; some paragraphs offer an extended syllogism. The paragraphs depend, really, on what the unique idea being developed in the individual essay requires. 

That kind of writing, with no rigid model to squish an essay into, is harder - because it requires deeper, more complex, creative thinking - but it's also a lot more exciting because sometimes/often, you don't know exactly where you'll end up in your thinking/writing  :) (not true for the 5-paragraph model, where you already know that the conclusion merely repeats the introduction). 

I will agree though, Junior, that it takes a very good writer to make a very long paragraph successfully coherent - if a paragraph is, essentially, a unit of thought, offered up for the reader to digest, one unit at a time, a long paragraph can easily lose coherence; the logic and unity can break down if the thinking isn't crystal clear - the unit of thought becomes a mush of a bunch of thoughts.  And yes, while we could - and probably should - talk all day about what "good writing" is (happily, a frequent, repeated conversation in my English department), it's a real pain, as a reader, to try to digest a bunch of thoughts all mushed together, rather than a single thought at a time.  I think of a paragraph as a kind of extension of friendship to the reader: "here, I won't shove all my thinking at you at once; I'll give you one bit at a time, and we'll get there, step-by-step, together."

Quetzalcoatl bless good teachers. Typical Anglo essay structures always leave me a bit flabbergasted.
Title: Re: On Writing
Post by: DarkeningHumour on October 15, 2016, 05:42:54 AM
Happy to see this thread is still active.
Title: Re: On Writing
Post by: verbALs on October 16, 2016, 05:14:31 PM
It seems like a good time for restatement. One of my weaknesses is that once I get an idea in my head, I find it difficult to put it aside; so I worry and nag the thought to distraction. I'm probably not the only person to do that. I was given some excellent advice, that mulling over any issue too much can lead to taking it too seriously. Anxiety and irritation and annoyance and anger; like a little self-induced runaway train. It's better to revisit any idea; having given it some breathing space, from a fresh perspective. I've found this very useful.

If you write about any idea you own those words and you can get drawn into taking the words overly seriously; you fall into a defensive position. Being able to move away to a new subject; allows a way out from that type of position. So, the trifecta of book, film and music is especially valuable for me; being able to move between them without getting hung up on any one subject; however heartfelt the words written. I heard writing described in terms of a restful state where you are also focussed and concentrated. I find I arrive at this feeling through writing; which is a wonderful state of mind; unstressed, fully aware, thinking of new avenues. The medicinal effects, I think, also shouldn't be overlooked. I can tell quite easily that my memory isn't as sharp at 50; it's more amusing than worrying; the most obvious name escapes me. The mental gymnastics of writing; like a cranial massage. Very soothing. Yet also this feeling of sharpness and acuity. The jumble of images in the head settle down into the flow of words; black on white instead of fireworks of all colours pow powing inside. What a wonderful thing. A wonderful place to practice it the forum as well.
Title: Re: On Writing
Post by: oldkid on October 16, 2016, 09:29:08 PM
Excellent.

I find that within a week after I write something, I can't rewrite it.  If I wait too long, I end up rewriting the whole thing.
Title: Re: On Writing
Post by: verbALs on October 17, 2016, 04:57:16 AM
I think the energy that emotion gives you to write is immediate and in the moment. I wouldn't trust myself to remember how a film made me feel; partly because the memory is then filtered and parsed through the intervening period. Also the opinion that forms in the immediacy of experiencing art, I think, is entirely different from the opinion that can form later; even how you feel about what you wrote initially will transform the opinion of hindsight. It actually might be an exercise to write a secondary review; the one that forms in the confluence between the memory of the experience and the immediate review. I think what's different about an immediate review; even stopping a film to capture the feeling; is that one writes under the influence of the energy of the experience.

I can say my view of Money Monster isn't as sharp as it was when I watched it yesterday. At times it was really funny but the wealth of themes kept getting in the way. I'm left with a memory  of an ambitious film with some great parts.
Title: Re: On Writing
Post by: oldkid on October 17, 2016, 11:54:13 AM
Sometimes an experience has to be processed before it can be written about clearly.  Sometimes an immediate review is me saying... uh... well... this happened.  My best writings often come after watching a movie for the second time, or after I've considered a framework for a review, another experience that I can compare this experience to.  Some films I don't even realize have had much of an impact until later.

All this to say, immediacy is great and works seven times out of ten, but it doesn't always bring the best writing.  Although it might for you.
Title: Re: On Writing
Post by: Junior on October 17, 2016, 12:00:07 PM
I wrote a paper last weekend but I knew it wasn't great. I gave it a rest for a few days and then the night before it was due I rewrote my thesis and several parts of paragraphs to back it up more strongly. I still don't know why my grade on that paper is yet, but I can guarantee it's better for having been written, waited on, and then rewritten.
Title: Re: On Writing
Post by: verbALs on October 17, 2016, 02:53:11 PM
My best writings often come after watching a movie for the second time, or after I've considered a framework for a review, another experience that I can compare this experience to.  Some films I don't even realize have had much of an impact until later.
I definitely have the same experience; going into a movie for the second time, when contextualising the film, writing more deeply about the themes and how the director communicates his own ideas on those themes; communicating the enthusiasm that pre-exists; that's a very satisfying piece of writing. First time you watch it's "hey this is great!"; the second time it's "this is why it's great". Talk of Alien reminds me I wrote a review of it where all I did was talk about the soundscape; difficult to isolate something like that the first time you watch a film. THe soundscape of Alien is better than Aliens; picture and all.  ;D
Title: Re: On Writing
Post by: verbALs on October 18, 2016, 03:48:07 AM
So when I say writing it begs the question what "writing" means; that all forms of writing are not the same; academic writing or professional writing as opposed to amateur writing. Does professional writing only mean that a payment is made for the service? Does payment alone confer authority on the writing?

My point was about emotion communicated and its immediacy creating different results than memory remembered. My assumption is that it is emotion that is being communicated by writing about it; based upon another assumption that art communicates emotion. These are arguable but only to the degree it is true, not as to whether it is true or not; a counter argument of generalisation would be a fallacious tangent. Emotion has a principle position in art and the effectiveness of the art depends upon how well it is communicated. To understand how effectively emotion is addressed in a movie and then to write well in reporting that effective communication would be my definition of good amateur writing about art. It would be my definition of good professional writing about it too but that's because my personal opinion is that professional writing only means payment took place and I accept that's a subjective view.

So the point that an effective review would take place at the point of maximum emotional impact is very much central to my feelings on writing about art. Perspective will change the nature of the piece. I referred to it as a battery driving the review. Each film has a different battery and you get individual energy from each films battery. I'm not metaphoring here; I'm describing what it actually feels like to me.

Title: Re: On Writing
Post by: oldkid on October 18, 2016, 12:12:31 PM
Every time I see a film, I am a different person responding differently to it.  When I watch a film the second time, the experience of the first viewing and my thoughts about it inform my second viewing, and a good film will overcome all of that, bringing me to new experience altogether.

I like your metaphor of perspective being the battery.  Framing should draw interest to the piece, but the perspective should be the power behind it, the drive to write.
Title: Re: On Writing
Post by: verbALs on October 18, 2016, 12:22:44 PM
Sorry I wrote emotion is the battery. I agree about perspective and it's importance but there's a difference between emotion and memory of an emotion.
Title: Re: On Writing
Post by: oldkid on October 18, 2016, 12:51:54 PM
Ah.  Sorry.
Title: Re: On Writing
Post by: pixote on October 18, 2016, 12:52:51 PM
Hey, it's the On Writing thread, not the On Reading thread. :)

pixote
Title: Re: On Writing
Post by: verbALs on October 18, 2016, 12:57:09 PM
 BLame (sic) the writer not the reader! ;D

More importantly, I think we agree the two are different forms of writing; you get different results, which is very cool.
Title: Re: On Writing
Post by: Junior on October 24, 2016, 08:16:23 PM
I just wrote "a utopia" but is it supposed to be "an utopia?" That second one looks really wrong to me for some reason.
Title: Re: On Writing
Post by: MartinTeller on October 24, 2016, 10:48:36 PM
A utopia. "An" is for words that start with a vowel sound. Utopia starts with a "y" sound. An umbrella, a utopia.

In my non-expert opinion.
Title: Re: On Writing
Post by: Junior on October 24, 2016, 11:09:54 PM
Sounds right to me.
Title: Re: On Writing
Post by: DarkeningHumour on October 25, 2016, 05:20:56 AM
How is "y" not a vowel sound ?
Title: Re: On Writing
Post by: MartinTeller on October 25, 2016, 08:36:13 AM
How is "y" not a vowel sound ?

It's a vowel sound in "dry" or "fly" or "bigly". It is not a vowel sound in "youth" or "yo-yo" or "barnyard".

I'm a little surprised I have to explain this.
Title: Re: On Writing
Post by: DarkeningHumour on October 25, 2016, 09:59:21 AM
Well...ta-dah.