Postulating & Pontificating: Qualified Criticism!

We all watch movies, but is there a right way to watch them?

I’ve never been one to make a big deal about the way I watch movies. I have a certain system for watching movies, but I don’t believe it is the way that others should watch movies or anything like that. If it’s a movie I plan on writing a full length review of then I need to watch the movie uninterrupted and I can’t watch anything else in-between. If I’m writing a capsule review for a movie I can take breaks from it, and watch other movies while on said break. If I’m just watching a movie to watch a movie then I really don’t have any rules. I can watch it in one sitting or spread it out over a few days. As you can see, my rules aren’t that many and they aren’t super stringent.

That’s not to say that I don’t have caveats, and it is the caveats that others break that tend to get on my nerves most of all. I am a big believer in qualified opinions. A person can come away from a movie with any sort of opinion under the sun. That’s the glory of the subjective nature of movies. However, the opinion you come away with needs to be qualified. What do I mean by qualified, well, there are certain things I believe one should not do in order to be able to offer up a qualified opinion. What follows is a small list of the sins I believe people commit that make their opinions unqualified and thus opinions I don’t feel the need to listen to,

1) Not Finishing The Whole Movie

This seems like a simple one, yet it is a sin that is committed on a regular basis. Nothing infuriates me more than engaging in a discussion with someone about a movie only to find out later that they didn’t finish the movie. I don’t expect people to follow my rule of finishing every movie I start, but if one wants to offer an opinion of a movie then I believe they should see all of the movie. A movie is a whole piece of art, how can I take your opinion of a movie seriously if you didn’t bother to see all of the piece of art? Leaving or turning off the movie before it finishes, these are not actions that make your opinion qualified.

2) Watching The Movie On Fast Forward

This may not be a common occurrence, I fully admit that I’ve only ever known one person who did this. But, when he admitted to doing this it pissed me off royally. I had engaged in conversations with this guy about a number of movies and it turned out that he had watched a lot of them on 1.5 speed. Maybe in his delusional world things like accurate line delivery and inflections in an actors voice don’t matter. After all watching a movie on 1.5 speed clearly established that you care nothing for tone or pacing. But, to the point, how is your opinion of a movie qualified when your version of watching the movie was in fast forward mode? I have nothing constructive to add to this issue, my mind cannot wrap itself around the idea of watching a movie on 1.5 speed and then talking about the movie like you actually watched it.

3) Watching A Movie In The Background

We all lead busy lives, I understand this fact. I also understand that many people are capable of multi-tasking. My complaint isn’t so much against those people, as it is against the ones who will turn a movie on and proceed to not watch it at all while they do something else. Doing your taxes and only looking at the screen when you hear a loud explosion does not mean you are watching the movie. If you then try to offer up an opinion on the movie that was on in the background while you were doing taxes all you are accomplishing is to waste my time. I know I sound harsh when I write that, but seriously, pay attention to more than the loud noises and explosions in a movie. If you want to tell me about a YouTube clip that collects all the loud noises and explosions then go ahead. But, don’t try to tell my why a movie was great or terrible when you didn’t watch more than five minutes of its hour and forty five minute running time.

4) Talking During The Movie

By talking during a movie I’m referring to the people who text on their phones, talk on the phone, or carry on conversations where the movie is treated like it doesn’t exist. Most of us talk during movies, but leaning over to my wife and saying, “Hey, you know that guy was also in Movie X,” doesn’t stop me from watching the movie. Carrying on a full fledged vocal or text based conversation means you did not watch the movie. It irks me when I know someone spent all their time during a movie texting and yet they will try to tell me why the movie was “so god damn terrible.” If you’re not at the movie theater, pause the movie, and if you are at a movie theater stop talking and pay attention to the movie.

5) Sleeping During A Movie

I am an aging man, thus I get sleepy all the time. Watching a movie after a tough day at work is relaxing, sometimes far too relaxing. The key is that when I wake up I will go back to the point when I fell asleep so that I can stay with the flow of the movie. I was once discussing a movie with someone who told me they fell asleep and missed about fifteen minutes during the middle of the movie. I asked them if they planned on watching the movie again, and they told me no because the movie was shit. I’m sorry, but if you miss fifteen minutes during the middle of the movie then you didn’t see the movie and your opinion of the movie is unqualified. We all get sleepy, but if you sleep during a movie then you can’t come close to offering a qualified opinion of the movie.

Cheers,
Bill

3 responses to “Postulating & Pontificating: Qualified Criticism!

  1. I agree that I find people who haven’t seen a movie, yet have definite opinions on how much it sucks, can’t be taken seriously. I actually read a review from a professional critic (in a small town paper) where he came right out and said he fell asleep about 20 minutes into The Nightmare Before Christmas, yet he continued to write his review of the film, which was negative. I felt like writing to the paper telling them they should ask for their check back for whatever they paid him for that review.

    In regards to your sins, I have done #2. I actually miss the days when subtitles were embedded right on the VHS tapes. On the rare occasion when I had a foreign film that was boring me, I would watch them doublespeed and I could still read all the subtitles, plus still watch what was going on. Putting a DVD on doublespeed now just makes the subtitles disappear. Don’t worry. None of these films are ones I will ever review at my site. I only write about movies I would recommend to others. One that bored me enough to do this is not one I would ever recommend. And I only did this instead of stopping the film entirely because I was curious to see how the film’s story turned out.

  2. I wish I understood the fast forward idea, but I can’t wrap my head around it. For my money, if I’m not going to watch a film on regular speed then I wouldn’t bother watching it in the first place, but that may just be me.

  3. Pingback: Top Ten Basketball Movies | JASEzone Digital Journal

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