Wasting Time After Class

50 Questions You’ve Never Been Asked
1. What’s your favorite candle scent?
The non-scented kind
2. What female celebrity do you wish was your sister?
The Nostalgia Chick
3. What male celebrity do you wish was your brother?
4. How old do you think you’ll be when you get married?
Idk… mid to late 20s
5. Do you know a hoarder?
In a sense that I collect a lot of things and have trouble letting go of items, but I don’t horde a ton of trash
6. Can you do a split?
hahahahahahaha NO
7. How old were you when you learned how to ride a bike?
Idk like 6?
8. How many oceans have you swam in?
9. How many countries have you been to?
10. Is anyone in your family in the army?
Yes, my uncle served as a reserve and my uncle was in the Latverian Army
11. What would you name your daughter if you had one?
12. What would you name your son if you had one?
13. What’s the worst grade you got on a test?
14. What was your favorite TV show when you were a child?
Dude George Shrinks and Scooby Doo all the way!
15. What did you dress up as on Halloween when you were eight?
I think that was the year of the Vampire, but I’m probably wrong
16. Have you read any of the Harry Potter, Hunger Games or Twilight series?
Just Harry Potter and I have NO interest in the others
17. Would you rather have an American accent or a British accent?
OMFG if I had a British accent that would be great
18. Did your mother go to college?
19. Are your grandparents still married?
no on both accounts
20. Have you ever taken karate lessons?
21. Do you know who Kermit the frog is?
22. What’s the first amusement park you’ve been to?
Camp Snoopy I think
23. What language, besides your native language, would you like to be fluent in?
Latin or Anglo-Saxon, but if I’m being realistic I’d say French
24. Do you spell the color as grey or gray?
both, depending on my mood
25. Is your father bald?
Not the last time I checked
26. Do you know triplets?
I feel like I do, but I can’t think of anyone so I guess not
27. Do you prefer Titanic or The Notebook?
Titanic and I haven’t even seen it yet
28. Have you ever had Indian food?
Nope and I’m not planning on it
29. What’s the name of your favorite restaurant?
La Ciudad
30. Have you ever been to Olive Garden?
Indeed… it was meh
31. Do you belong to any warehouse stores (Costco, BJ’s, etc.)?
Nope, Aldi for the Win!
32. What would your parents have named you if you were the opposite gender?
33. If you have a nickname, what is it?
Not that anyone’s called me this in a while, but my old nickname was Justino Ruler of the Casino
34. Who’s your favorite person in the world?
Jack Benny… oh wait he’s dead, well then Kelly I guess!
35. Would you rather live in a rural area or in the suburbs?
Suburbs, because it’s a good go-between
36. Can you whistle?
Quite well, I like to think
37. Do you sleep with a nightlight?
Well unless you count the light of my laptop as I watch a Lets Play, no
38. Do you eat breakfast every morning?
I try to!
39. Do you take any pills or medication daily?
40. What medical conditions do you have?
Cancer, AIDS, Alzheimers, ADHD, and the Gout
41. How many times have you been to the hospital?
A few times… both for good and bad things
42. Have you ever seen Finding Nemo?
Yeah, pretty good movie
43. Where do you buy your jeans?
Kohls, because I’m veryveryvery picky
44. What’s the last compliment you got?
45. Do you usually remember your dreams in the morning?
Yes, but not for long unless I think about it
46. What flavor tea do you enjoy?
Hot Chocolate
47. How many pairs of shoes do you currently own?
5 including sandals and flip-flops
48. What religion will you raise your children to practice?
A combination of Mormonism and Paganism just to troll their teachers. Nah, I’d let them choose
49. How old were you when you found out that Santa wasn’t real?
I don’t remember, but there were many years where I knew but didn’t say anything/admit it ti myself
50. Why do you have a blog?
I want to have a blog because I want somewhere to put my thoughts, recommendations and most importantly my reviews, because I want people to hear what I have to say and I want to help people find good movies.

Madoka Magica (2011) Review

In the mass of Moe filled shows coming out these days, one would certainly not be surprised at the release of a cute magical girl show, and particularly from Studio Shaft who have done cutesy slice of life shows before. Indeed Shaft wanted us to think that Madoka Magica was nothing more then it appeared to be and it wasn’t until all the little Otaku sat down and saw the first few minutes that there was a sneaking suspicion that this show was not as it seems. Indeed Madoka Magica is not the happy-go-lucky anime its first couple episodes portray and is in fact a tragic deconstruction, and by doing so a subversion, of the magical girl genre.

For those who don’t know, the Magical Girl genre is one that consists of shows like Sailor Moon and Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha. It for the most part consists of girls being approached by an unusual animal of some kind and being asked to become a magical girl in order to fight the forces of evil, leading to wacky adventures and super-powered transformation sequences that are used over and over. Madoka Magica follows much of the same story. A girl named Madoka is approached by the mysterious creature Kyubey who asks of her one wish, which will then be granted and she will become a magical girl. The only problem is that Madoka can’t come up with a good wish, and as she and her friend Sayaka discover more about the world of magical girls and the witches they fight, they become uncertain of whether or not they truly want to be magical girls. Unfortunately I can’t go much further then that, as I would rather not spoil this show more then I have to.

It’s the analysis of what really is at stake when these girls fight the reality warping witches and what the true motivation of Kyubey is that leads to this show having its… darker tone. This tone switch is sudden and it’s really when the deconstruction of the cute and innocent world that’s been created begins, as well as its ultimate subversion. Don’t be afraid if you don’t have much experience with Sailor Moon and its colleagues because the story of Madoka packs a punch either way. In the 12 episodes it has, it manages to create a whole world and set of characters that you get invested in and then somehow manages to wrap everything up at the end that it wanted to. For a story of this caliber, it’s very tight and I think the series being any longer would have been detrimental. As it is, Madoka Magica is an easy watch. Every episode is important and progresses the story, but if you don’t want to marathon it all at once there’s still enough recap to jog your memory.

Shaft has really put there all into this series, as it is fucking gorgeous. The labyrinths that the witches create are all composed of random imagery invoking many different visual styles and it’s some of the most unique art I’ve seen in a while. The animation outside of the battle scenes is nice, but not great. It’s a softer style that reinforces the Moe aspect of the show, but it works nice when contrasting it against the dark events to come. The character’s faces all have this odd sketchiness to them, that I actually like a lot, since it made them feel less like the products of K-ON! and more like actual characters.

The music is composed by Yuki Kajiura and its quality is easily on par with the rest of the show. Everything from the victory theme, tragedy themes, epic choruses, and ending song are all fantastic and fit the show to a tee. Fortunately, unlike other shows with her music, the songs don’t distract you from the story, merely adding to it and this is due to (again) how engrossing the story is. The acting in the Japanese track is phenomenal, as far as I can tell, and far surpasses the english dub. It’s not that the dub is particularly bad, it’s just that the characters are defined by a lot of Japanese conventions that are hard to convey in English. I have to recommend subs on this one.

Madoka Magica is a show that’s hard to explain why it’s good without ruining what makes it good. Its play on expectations is exactly what makes its more dramatic moments work. At the end of the series you’ll find yourself attached to the characters, invested in the story and familiar with the world. Above all though, you’ll be satisfied. For only 12 episodes Madoka Magica is a marvel amongst modern anime. There’s really no excuse not to watch it. If the premise isn’t interesting to you, then don’t worry it’s not supposed to be and if you’re worried about time and availability it’s on Crunchyroll for streaming at the time of this review. If you’re tired of mediocrity or you recently got into anime then by all means watch Madoka Magica, you won’t regret it.

Blue Velvet (1986) Review

Out of all the directors I’ve come across in my cinematic travels, David Lynch is probably one of the most memorable of the lot. I’ve only seen two of his films, but I will never ever forget them. His magnum opus of oddity Eraserhead remains continually stuck in my brain as a movie I need to see several more times. If you haven’t seen that, check it out. You will literally never forget it, barring mental disease. His transition to Hollywood after Eraserhead is just as interesting and coming of the reasonably unsuccessful Dune, he released 1986’s Blue Velvet. It’s Lynchian nature is definitely present, but almost weaved in and out of a movie that most will enjoy. Blue Velvet is a conundrum in my head, and coming off of just watching it, I may be in the worst position to review it. It puts you under a spell, entrancing you with its story and then yanking you back and forth with its symbolism that you should obviously be seeing, but not quite understanding. So let me try and put my inquiring mind aside and actually look at the film that captivated me so.

The film centers around Jeffrey, whose investigation into an ear he found leads him to Dorothy Vallens. Along with Detective’s daughter Sandy he unravels the mysterious goings on in Dorothy’s life, ultimately becoming involved in them himself. The acting is hard to judge. It’s convincing, but convincingly weird. We somehow get the impression that the odd line reads and inconsistent interactions are part of the world and eventually they make sense in their own way. Stand out performances go to Isabella Rossellini as the tormented Dorothy and Dennis Hopper as Frank Booth. Frank is a fascinating character. His entrance into the film marks a turning point where the movie changes from a mid-50s Hitchcock movie to an 80s drama and boy oh boy could you dissect his character for hours. The odd combination of inadequacy, possibly homosexual tendencies and over-compensation are absolutely fascinating to watch.

As I said before this film starts out very 50s in its style and setting. It’s colors, suggestive imagery and characters all suggest 50s suburbs. It’s not until we get to Dorothy’s apartment that the darker world starts to infest the movie. Then when Frank shows up the movie completely flips, immersing Jeffrey and the world into the darkness and it’s only with the help of Sandy and her love for Jeffrey that the world is once again brought into the light. It’s tough to believe that “Love Conquers All” is the message in a Lynch film, but the cyclical nature of the symbols and motifs seem to suggest it. Again, another watch is needed.

The colors and light are played on constantly in this movie, making it feel like a colored film noir. Lynch seems to love working with shadows, in a way very reminiscent of German expressionism. It pervades through the movie and even if you can’t garner it’s meaning, it’s certainly something to look at. The color as well is unique to look at, as for a movie called Blue Velvet it certainly has a lot of red. Almost all the shots have some primary pop to them, but reds seem the most dominant. Perhaps to give more contrast to the blues.

Blue Velvet is a suspense movie that remains suspenseful for the entirety of the movie. The sense that there is more going on then meets the eye adds to the experience and most certainly gives it rewatchability. You absolutely should see this film. If you are even slightly into stranger movies, of any kind, then this will give you plenty to feast on and if you’re as into film as I am, then this movie will be great discussion fodder for a long time to come, especially if it’s accompanied by Eraserhead. So while I haven’t talked much about the quality of this film, I’m sure you can tell from my gushing that Blue Velvet is worth your time.

Friday the 13th (1980) Review

Friday the 13th will forever be notable for it’s popularization of the slasher genre and kicking off the 80s slasher boom. The Friday franchise was Paramount’s dirty little secret, bringing in more money on an annual basis then any of their other features. Despite the lashing that it got from critics, Friday the 13th isn’t that bad of a movie. It follows the now cliché structure of a group of camp counselors getting picked off one by one at Camp Crystal Lake, which has a history of tragic events including the drowning of the young Jason Voorhees. As the body count rises, the final survivor discovers who the killer is and has to fight her to survive. Friday the 13th is a great movie thanks to its likeable characters, good pacing, and moderation of kills and scares.

As the slasher genre progressed, more and more emphasis was placed on the killer and less on the victims, at first leading to clichéd characters and eventually leading to every slasher starring obnoxious pieces of shit that you desperately want killed so you don’t have to spend more time with them. However, thinking back to the greats (For example Friday the 13th, Halloween, Nightmare on Elm Street, and Scream) they have likeable leads or, at the very least, leads you don’t hate. Friday’s leads are generally likeably people, even if they’re a little bland. They’re certainly not clichés, having their own personalities to them, but because we don’t spend enough time with them to know what they’re like, they come off as bland. The acting is… fair, certainly not as bad as some of its successors, but nothing outstanding. Kevin Bacon makes an early career appearance, but he’s got so few lines that you barely notice. The standout performance definitely goes to Jason’s mother, played by Betsy Palmer. She seems to be not only a caring mother, but also a fucking schizophrenic and that’s tricky to pull off.

Since Friday the 13th took up the task of actually getting you to like its protagonists, it ran the risk of getting quite boring. In spite of this, it managed to pace itself quite well. The movie kicks off with a good introduction and then from there does an even better job of throwing in occasional kills or teen antics to keep you interested. It’s never boring, even if it doesn’t grab your interest like some of its successors do. The build-up to the climax takes up a solid chunk of the movie, with neither too much nor too little time in-between the kills. The only real problem the film has pacing wise is that the climax is too long. The fight with Mrs. Voorhees has many different confrontations to it, and there are overly long parts in-between where it’s just the two looking for each other which frankly isn’t that interesting to watch. That being said, all that waiting is worth it for the final kill and scare, which are easily the most memorable parts of the movie.

Speaking of kills and scares, the murders in this movie are… not as gory as you may think. There certainly a good amount of sharp object to head action, but there’s also plenty of kills where we don’t actually see anything. This kind of balance allows for the gore to be effective and for us to remain sensitive. The gore effects are pretty good, but there is such thing as too much of a good thing and this film makes sure not to cross that line. It certainly is an interesting contrast to the later entries, which no longer have the backbone of a mystery to support them and instead concentrate on upping the ante with the kills.

I saw this film, in honor of Friday the 13th, on VHS and I’m glad I did. While some may prefer to get this movie on blue-ray to maximize visual splendor, I prefer the grit and fuzziness that VHS has to offer. It really lends to the tone of the movie and it’s almost like being transported back to the 80s when people were first getting scared by this film. The darkness and dullness of the image actually made the gore effects better, since they blended with the actors more. Seeing the 1080p version of this movie, you can notice a difference, but on VHS it honestly looks like Kevin Bacon’s getting an arrow pushed through his neck.

Should you watch Friday the 13th? Of course you should! It’s cliché, yes. But only because it created the clichés. Is it full of plot holes? Yes, but you’ll be having too much fun to notice. Despite its flaws, Friday the 13th is a film worth watching, not just for horror fans, but for anyone who wants to watch a darker film. It won’t scare you to death, but it still has some effective moments for you to enjoy. For what it is, Friday the 13th is a great movie and one that will surely continue to stand the test of time.

Dimension Bomb (2008) Review

AMVs are a fascinating combination of fan appreciation and artistic expression. They can be low quality collections of just a handful of scenes put to whatever song strikes the creators fancy or they can be derived from dozens of anime, tied together with original animation and accompanied by a song carefully and meticulously chosen. “Binary Overdrive” is one of the best AMVs I’ve ever seen. Its fantastic use of the images it pulls from as well as the editing of said material to the music really made it stand out. However, what drew me to it the most were the images themselves. Pulled from an anime I had never heard off, the animation and visual style were just so stunning that I imagined an epic story with dynamic characters and incredibly unique ideas. The anime, Dimension Bomb, is in reality a 20 minute surreal look into the thoughts of a heartbroken boy… or is it? Imagine if David Lynch took some antidepressants and moved to Japan and you’ve got a good idea of what this short film is like.

First and foremost, we need to talk about the animation. It’s fucking gorgeous. The visual style, character models and environments are all incredibly unique. The randomness of this dreamscape is portrayed beautifully here, even if a few of the symbols could have been tied a little more closely together. The film is originally part of the anthology Genius Party, or rather the sequel Genius Party Beyond, because it wasn’t completed in time. Well thank the lord for that, because many of the shots (especially when it kicks into slow motion) are pure eye candy and worth the extra effort. The soundtrack also deserves note since it accompanies what’s on the screen beautifully without distracting from it.

Now lets talk about the story… or lack thereof, as Dimension Bomb takes the approach of not telling you what’s going on as it flashes images in front of you. It’s a film that truly needs to be experienced rather then explained because a good number of interpretations can be pulled from it. For me it seems to be this: A boy who has felt like an outsider his whole life and who masks his true self finally meets a girl who likes him. She’s a bit strange but they have lots of good times together. One day she up and decides she doesn’t like him anymore and he can’t handle it so he buries all of his emotions, putting on the mask that she managed to pull off. Then he finds out that she’s leaving town and as he rushes to the train station on his busted up bike, all the emotions he had paw up to the surface. It’s a confusing mess of love and hate. In a single moment before he crashes his mind releases this emotion in a dream of sorts. He gets up and keeps going, only to crash again. It seems like the universe… like she… like he himself… don’t want him to get there and he’s left completely alone, but better for the experience. That’s my interpretation from the story, but really anything could be pulled from the plot I suppose. And maybe that’s its biggest detraction. That while it’s jumbled storytelling is unique and open to interpretation; it’s too open for anyone to gain any satisfaction from once they interpret it.

With its beautiful animation, well-placed soundtrack and unusual viewing experience Dimension Bomb is an anime to watch… a few times. It’s only 20 minutes long and for that short amount of time, it certainly packs a punch. Not only is this memorable, but it also makes good debate material for you and your friends. However, if you prefer a more straight forward story or aren’t a fan of analyzing your viewing material then… maybe you should just stick with the AMV instead.

I’m soooooo fucking bored

You would think college life would be… interesting, but nope I am sitting here ready to just hit my head against a wall because I’m without a project to keep myself mentally stable.
I can’t edit the video review I have recorded because the colleague who has it is as incompetent as can be.
I can’t film a new review because I don’t have a camera I can get good footage off of.
I can’t practice the violin because my friend might have been an idiot and taken it to another state
I can’t draw, or do a puzzle, or play video games because I’ve already been doing that for toooooo fucking long.
I can do homework, but then I’ll just be in the same predicament later.
Does anyone want me to review something?
Does anyone want me to make a video out of a previous review even though it would be the format of The Conjuring Review where you never see me?
I’ll do any movie, I’ll do a 3 episode review of any tv show or anime. Hell depending on the anime I might just do the whole fucking thing!
I don’t know I’m just ranting cause I’m booorrrreeeeddddd

Exit through the Gift Shop (2010) Review

Despite my fascination with art, it is rare that I actually go in depth with it. That is until I heard an NPR story a few months back about Banksy, a British street artist whose ambitious works of art provide fascinating social commentary. This inspired me to look into the unusual displays of art he had and he’s now one of my favorite artists (next to my girlfriend of course ;). So when I discovered Exit through the Gift Shop on Netflix, I had to check it. Strangely enough, this isn’t a documentary about Banksy, but rather the man who “tried” to make a documentary about him and in the end proved to be just as fascinating on his own.

Thierry Guetta is a man with a fascinating psychological urge to record everything and every moment. In the early 2000s he starts tagging along with his graffiti artist cousin “Space Invader” further and further into the world of street art. As he falls down this rabbit hole he decides to make a street art documentary and that the crown jewel of this film will be an interview with the world famous Banksy. Eventually he gets his chance, and his ensuing friendship with the Graffitist allows him to get the ultimate street art thrill ride. With attention on Street Art rising, Banksy urges him to finish the film, but when he does the result… isn’t exactly pleasing. While Banksy is busy remaking the movie, Guetta is allowed to start creating his own art and from there launches a massive campaign under the name “Mr. Brainwash.” Through his connections Guetta takes the LA art scene by storm, despite his insane business decisions and his derivative work.

Thanks to its unique framing, the documentary works extremely well. It’s told with the thousands of hours of footage Guetta has recorded over the years and is accompanied by interviews with Guetta, his family, Banksy and several colleagues. As we follow this mans life we’re mystified by the fact that no one saw his true nature… not as a seeming documentarian, but as a mentally scarred man. He asks the dumbest questions, he does the most intrusive things, and all around acts insane, but somehow he manages to capture the hearts and minds of the street artists who just want a log of their work. Guetta is a thoroughly unlikeable character in my opinion. He goes from being this naïve, but interfering nitwit to this self-centered exploiter who ignores his family and abuses his friends’ work because he wants to be just like they are. It’s clear once he becomes a “street artist” that he has no artistic vision. What gives the simplistic pop art or the unusually designed street art its artistic merit is not just the image itself, but the thought behind it, the intent. Guetta has no concept of this, simply making changes to pre-existing images (like a studio executive does to a script) and then handing it off to someone else to actually create, loosing any artistic merit for even creating the image itself since it’s not his. Yet somehow… you don’t really hate him. He’s just a goofy man riding on a trend. He’s extremely lucky, but if it wasn’t him it no doubt would have been someone else.

What Banksy wanted from Guetta was an accurate portrayal of what street art was supposed to mean during a time where it was being sold for thousands of dollars. What he got in return was a 90 minute nightmare trailer. Hence him sending Guetta off to do something else. While Guetta’s film failed, I think that this movie does, through contrast, establish what Street Art is supposed to be. We see that the people around Guetta have clear passion and that carries through to the moments in Banksy’s studio where we see the real processes behind the creation of these pieces. However, it’s not until we see Guetta in his studio and at his gallery that this message really clicks. Guetta is almost the opposite of what a Street Artist is supposed to be and by using the inverse of him, as well our impressions from the previous artists, we can gain a clear image of what those weird pieces of Graffiti are supposed to stand for and who the people behind them really are.

Exit through the Gift Shop is well made, but with all documentaries it’s the content that counts and Guetta provides no shortage of fascinating content. The art on screen is beautiful to look at, the artists are fun to watch, and Guetta’s commentary both behind and in front of camera is addicting to listen to, like watching a train crash. The moral of the film is clear and in my opinion an important one that pertains not only to the world of Street Art, but Art in general. If you are vaguely interested in Graffiti, have heard of Banksy, or are just looking for a good character piece then Exit through the Gift Shop is definitely worth checking out.

Dangan Ronpa: The Animation (2013) 3 Episode Review

Dangan Ronpa: The Animation is a 2013 animated visual novel that is one of the few Lets Plays to ever be broadcast on TV before. Ok if you haven’t guessed… I don’t like this one. Just for clarification this is a 3 episode analysis. It’s my belief that after 3 episodes the makers should have clearly established story, characters, and style and thus it can be judged on its initial quality. All my opinions following are based on these episodes alone and if the show becomes fucking amazing in the 4th episode then oops my bad. As stated before Dangan Ronpa is based off a visual novel and its bland characters, constant dialogue and predictability all reflect that in the worst possible way.

Dangan Ronpa is the story of new high school student Mr. Bland who somehow managed to get into Hope Academy, one of the most respected schools in the country. However when he arrives he finds himself (and the other students) trapped in the mechanizations of a psychotic, reality defying teddy bear. The only way to graduate is to kill someone else… and get away with it. Things escalate quickly as bodies pile up and mysteries demand to be solved for the sake of survival. Trust me, it sounds cooler then it is.

I’ve never played the visual novel but from what I can tell Dangan Ronpa is extremely accurate in its portrayal. The character models and environment look spot on, in all of its blandness and stereotyping. The only time the animation gets interesting is in the punishment scenes where it completely changes to a hyperactive 2D-image-in-a-3D-space visual style. I thought this was going to be used to make the violence on screen seem more tame, but barely anything was actually shown instead focusing on everything but the actual act being committed.

There’s the indescribable sense that show is fucking high on speed and is trying to be weird for the sake of being weird. The world typically feels fairly normal, but then something fucking strange will show up, like an evil stuffed bear OR PINK BLOOD. The graphics, shots and editing are all fast and hyperactive. This all reminds me of some souped up commercial for the latest product that all you kids should buy, buy, buy, RIGHT NOW! Now this wouldn’t be a bad thing if what was weird was enjoyably so and if the actual pace of the story matched the pace of the presentation. For example, The Bastard Swordsman is a Shaw Brothers movie that’s incredibly fast paced and involves a samurai emerging from a giant egg. The premise is weird, the characters are weird, and the movie’s plot moves as fast as it’s editing and shots suggest. This anime has a basic Battle Royale premise, with boring characters that are all stereotypes and boring ass dialogue that barely moves the plot forward until some character pulls some revelation out of their ass that you saw coming from a mile away or couldn’t possibly have seen coming because the show purposefully withheld information from you.

Watching Dangan Ronpa is like watching someone play the visual novel. It’s characters standing around talking and you have no reason to be invested because our protagonist is blannndddd and you know that at some point a random event will interrupt the constant repeating of the same stupid lines to finally move the plot along whether you bothered to pay attention or not. Dangan Ronpa had the potential to be good, if they had taking the story and characters and added some depth and psychology to their actions, making it more realistic or if they had said “Fuck it” and turned it into some bat-shit insane weird-fest with characters dying left and right. Instead, they decided to present the source material as is and because of that I’m recommending you pass on this one, unless the concept really seems grabbing to you.

Filmmakers vs. Critics

Here I am, sitting in Moving image Art class (film 101). It’s the first class, and I’m talking to a few people around me. They’re chatting about the shorts they’ve made and the commercials they’ve done and all I’ve really got is my reviews behind me as my experience. Ok, so we came into film from two different points, no big deal right? Wrong, because as the class progresses the professor gets to the part of the lecture about critiquing your classmates work and the difference between critiquing and criticism. Seems like a oddly confusing question doesn’t it? Those two things… are the same thing, just a different form of the word. This is how they describe it: Critiquing is constructively analyzing and giving feedback on a rough cut of the project to attempt to make it better. Criticism is an opinionated look at the final product, and isn’t constructive.
That’s backhanded, but that’s not the worst part. How the professors (we had combined with another class for the latter part of the period so both professors were lecturing) had gotten to this point was by asking us “name some words that you associate with a Critic”
Here’s what my classmates said: “judgmental”, “opinionated”, “harsh”, “harmful”, “condescending”, “not helpful”, “destructive”
And that’s when I realized the big difference between me and them (maybe not everyone’s like this, but for the sake of this rant I will just say “them”). I came into film from the critics side, looking at the overall film first and then as I progressed, looking at how it’s made and wanting to be a filmmaker because of it. They came into it from the perspective of “Oh that movie was cool, I want to try that” and from there becoming more and more fascinated with the intricacies of film, jumping straight into the role of the filmmaker.
Even the professors, who I would expect to have at least mentioned that reviews have their purpose in culture, talked condescendingly about critics, even bringing up specific ones like Roger Ebert. To be fair they didn’t say outright that ALL critics are evil, or even the notable ones they mentioned were, but they still had a bitter tone to their voice and the same word choice as the students.
There are three parties when it comes to movies. The makers, the audience and in-between them are the critics. The purpose of a critic is to let the audience know, in their opinion, what movies should and should not be viewed. Like it or not, filmmakers are putting out these movies for people to pay for, even if it is the penultimate artistic expression of their career. People need to know if they are getting their moneys worth. On the other end, filmmakers who may think that their ideas are great need critics to wake them up and show them when they’re not. For example, during the production of The Phantom Menace, George Lucas was surrounded by yes men who would not argue with him on anything. That movie was shit. Critics had to basically say “George Lucas, you’re fucking stupid for thinking this was good.” Did it change how the other two turned out, no, but if the same thing happened with Spielberg or Cameron or Scorsese, it would be up to the critics to tell it how it is, because these men are so powerful. Critics can help a movie too! Do you think The Conjuring would have made nearly as much money if the Critics hadn’t let the audience know “Hey, dumbasses, don’t go see The Lone Ranger! This movie kicks ass!” Critics praise movies for decades when they deserve it, keeping them relevant to people who aren’t in the industry. What are the odds of people knowing that “Citizen Kane” is the best movie ever, if Critics didn’t keep putting it on their top lists.
Don’t get me wrong, Critics can be judgmental, ignorant assholes. They’ll tear apart movies and say they’re shit, just because they aren’t their favorite genre. Just look at my progression for example. My first video review was of The Legend of Sorrow Creek a low, low budget indy film that clearly had some hard work put into it, but still turned out terribly. I feel terrible about how I treated that film. I totally Nostalgia Critic-ed it, when it didn’t deserve it. I tore everything in it apart, sounding like a whiny snot nose bitch. Here’s the thing about the Nostalgia Critic. He tears apart big Hollywood productions (for the most part) and he does it for COMEDY, with an occasional moral about film. If you can’t take the joke, piss off and I, at the time, didn’t get the joke properly. Since then I’ve learned a shit-ton about filmmaking and have made a few things on my own, but I probably would still be a raging asshole if it weren’t for the moral crisis of Joe Christiana of “The Cutting Room Movie Podcast.” He faced the trouble of reviewing movies, when he himself was a movie maker and when it came to reviewing a smaller indy production he refused to do it, because he didn’t know if he would someday meet those guys. He couldn’t hold himself on a pedestal and judge their work, all the while having the same things said about his stuff. This made me realize that every movie is made by hardworking people, and the redeeming qualities need to be given credit.
Quick sidebar. One reason critics get bashed on is them constantly hating horror films and smaller indy projects that aren’t avant-garde. Again, as a person who has seen Battleship Potemkin and Death Bed I am torn between these two worlds. Yes I understand that in the grand scheme of things a movie like Death Bed is terrible, but it serves its purpose of being a low budget horror film to laugh at and because of this, it’s good enough for a certain audience and deserves credit for such. The same can be said about Sharknado, which is brilliant, because it accomplishes everything it should, just like Citizen Kane accomplished its goals.
So yes, a critic who doesn’t understand the filmmakers point of view is an asshole, the same way a critic who doesn’t understand the audience’s point of view gets no followers. However, that doesn’t mean filmmakers are exempt! Filmmakers who don’t see the purpose of Critics are assholes, the same way a Filmmaker who doesn’t see the audience’s perspective has no viewers. Critics serve as an intermediary and should not be ignored. A filmmaker who understands the perspective of a critic will be better able to not only take criticism, but understand the trends in cinema and what will and won’t work in their movie. This is my main problem with professors who ignore that, because they are hindering growth.
They aren’t wrong though in that there are a lot of critics who don’t treat films fairly. I like to think that I’m fairly balanced in my perspective and thus I can judge a film better, but a lot of critics don’t have that balance between filmmaker, critic, and audience member. It just makes me wonder… will my more critically based eye prevent me from interacting well with my fellow students? Can I help them see the Critics perspective? Or should I even bother when the world of reviewing clearly needs more unbiased eyes?

Battleship Potemkin (1925) Review

A dramatized account of a great Russian naval mutiny and a resulting street demonstration which brought on a police massacre.-imdb.com

Battleship Potemkin is a technical masterpiece as it was an experiment in “montage” and its editing techniques remain influential to this day. As a propaganda film it exceeds expectations, presenting a story that’s deeply emotional even for a foreign audience. There is no question that Battleship Potemkin should be seen by every film student, but is it as mandatory for a more casual viewer?

Let’s face it; Battleship Potemkin is a propaganda film. It portrays the government as rats and does nothing to redeem them. However, this is no worse then the way The Empire is portrayed in Star Wars or Loki in The Avengers. There are no real characters to attach to, because this movie isn’t about characters. It’s about a general population and their struggle to have rights and that story is done incredibly well, both for a 1925 film and even for a film today. The story evolves and evolves taking you places you wouldn’t expect, and this makes the film actually a unique watch. For how old this movie is, its story isn’t that cliché and it’s really quite refreshing.

The solid story wouldn’t be nearly as strong if Sergei Eisenstein hadn’t been able to encapsulate the emotion like he did through editing and cinematography. The staircase scene, the fight on the battleship, and the ending scene are all monumentally tense and effective. The staircase sequence alone is shocking enough, especially if you go in with 1920s expectations. Going from a more basic movie like a Chaplin or Keaton work to this will make the film all the more effective. While those movies work just fine, Battleship Potemkin exceeds all expectations and destroys all comfort you may have. The violence used and the shocking portrayal of humanity being destroyed is something that wouldn’t be done today, let alone back then.

Where this film does fail is the uneven pacing. There are plenty of points in-between the more dramatic scenes where the movie just hits a brick wall. People are just standing around talking, or they’re just doing… stuff. Getting ready for war or protesting bad meat, all at a slow pace and with nothing particularly interesting to look at. The soundtrack helps a little as it’s generally very dramatic and nice to listen to, but that doesn’t completely rid you of the creeping sense of… boredom.

If you can make it through the movie, and odds are you will, there will be no doubt that what you watched was totally worth every moment and that you won’t forget it any time soon. Battleship Potemkin is a masterpiece of a movie. Not without the typical pacing problems of the time, it’s still a great watch and in my opinion something that even a more casual viewer can enjoy.