When I first conceptualized this blog, one thing I knew I wanted to have for sure was a Movie Review section. But this frightened me. I used to think: How am I supposed to compete with, say, a critic as famous and as productive and as well-read as Roger Ebert? My challenge is daunting at best. The bar was set way high by Mr. Ebert and his colleagues.
I use Mr. Ebert as a reference for three main reasons: (1) he is one of the most famous film critics in the world, (2) he’s won a Pulitzer Prize for film criticism, (3) and I adore his body of work. In fact, I like his work because occasionally we disagree. Whenever we were in accordance, satisfaction took over me because that meant my mindset matched his. However, our occasional disagreement used to discourage me. But now I’ve made peace with it as I realized something…
It is related to the words of the famous Russian writer Maxim Gorky. Gorky was perhaps the first film critic in the history of the world. In 1896, Gorky watched a program of early one-minute films shot and projected by the cinematograph (which had been conceptualized and manufactured by the Lumiere brothers years before). His review of the event imparts one of earliest descriptions of cinema. Gorky wrote:
If you only knew how strange it is to be there. It is a world without sound, without colour. Every thing there—the earth, the trees, the people, the water and the air—is dipped in monotonous gray. Gray rays of the sun across the gray sky, gray eyes in gray faces, and the leaves of the trees are ashen gray. It is not life but its shadow. It is not motion but its soundless spectre.
Gorky’s review has been reproduced in many books and websites. I suspect that I will never produce anything that will be as far-reaching as what he wrote. Yet it’s incredibly outdated. However, I understand the obvious: Gorky’s review is representative of his generation and his personality. Whatever I write will fit inside this same category. Which brings me back to Roger Ebert.
Mr. Ebert has seen more movies than, perhaps, I will in my lifetime. Don’t get me wrong. I too am a cinephile, but we’re talking about a guy who has fun for a living. And it’s too much fun. But back to what Gorky taught me… I know for a fact that my reviews won’t always match professional critics. But that doesn’t matter because I am able to impart different insights.
There’s no question that filmmaking – like any other art form – is subjective, and people have different opinions on any given work. So let’s share ours…