This is the second installment in my “slightly condescending but still kind” series Talking About Film 101.
The second lesson in effectively talking about film is to avoid the “blanket quality statement” and the “un-supported opinion statement.” Here are examples:
1. Blanket Quality Statement: “That’s a dumb movie.”
2. Un-Supported Opinion Statement: “I didn’t like that movie.”
While everyone is, indeed, entitled to their own opinions, it is best to avoid these types of statements, even if they were positive. Why? Because it gets the discussion nowhere, and requires very little thinking to say in the first place. Our emotions and reactions are generally easy to process, but coming up with reasons why is far more complicated, and can reveal aspects of the film that can generate truly valuable discussion.
So, what would be more useful? First of all, be very hesitant to condemn a whole movie to being “dumb.” This refers back to Lesson 1. Second, use a different sentence structure. Try “I did/didn’t appreciate [particular aspect of the film] because of [reason]. An example of this would be [example].”
Mr. Q: “Did you see the newest Star Trek movie? Star Trek:Into Darkness?”
Miss R: “Yes, I did!
Mr. Q: “What did you think of it?”
Miss R: “For the most part I enjoyed it, but I had some issues with it.”
Mr. Q: “That’s interesting. What problems did you see?”
Miss R: “Well, first of all I felt like there was a lack of female presence. Uhura and Carol did very little to contribute to the story. Also, Carol was very objectified. You know the seen where she is changing and Kirk turns around to see her? As far as plot goes, there wasn’t a reason for that, so I felt that the only reason for the scene was to show off her body. But, I love J.J. Abrams’s camera movement!”
Mr. Q: “Wow, those are interesting points! But, I didn’t like J.J. Abrams’s camera movement… it felt a little hyperactive and made me feel a bit sick. I wanted to be able to concentrate more on the great design and visual effects!”
Miss R: “Yeah, weren’t the visuals stunning! What a fun film.”
Now, wasn’t that better than saying “I liked it!” or “That was dumb!”? So, if you find yourself having a purely emotional reaction when watching a film, try to find the reason why.
In fact, try right now? When watching a film, what makes you so happy? What makes you annoyed? Do you have examples from recent films?