What is it we seek from the Cinema? It all depends on your point of view.
For some, the movies are a source of seeking refuge from everyday existence, a release from daily tensions and anxieties. This is escapism and it has been the driving factor of the Populist attraction to the movies since the origin of the form. However, if one were to alter the view and regard film without merely the Populist limitations of escapist diversion but also as an Art Form, the perspective deepens and enters the realm of Critical Thought.
Though inconsistent in perspective, each side has validity, and is actually far more dependent on the existence of the other than would first seem possible. In a nutshell, it is a battleground between perceived verisimilitude against the aesthetic Ideal.
In formulating the foundations of The Critical Establishment,
it is necessary to understand the characteristics of each perspective, to note the seemingly contradictory similarities and disparities, and their often inextricable interconnections.
In examining both Populist thought and Critical Thinking in Film, it is useful to define the key players in the field: the reviewers and the critics. Though seemingly cut from the same cloth, there is a world of difference. Reviewers are the professional manifestation of the Populist front; reviewers have a primary focus on entertainment value while critics evaluate under an aesthetic criteria, reviewers reward immediate gratification whereas critics seek artistry.
With the burgeoning of internet filmspeak, there is a misconception that the old model of printed press criticism is being eroded by the emergence of an equal internet critical roster. This, however, is a fallacy. One thing is for certain, even with a cursory glance at popular internet movie sites: reviewers are plentiful and genuine criticism of merit is as scarce as water in the Mojave Desert.
The reviewer will generally spend the bulk of their time reprinting the plot synopsis of a film, often almost verbatim from the printed materials of the studio. While this assists handily in filling a column, it does little to illuminate the worth of a film. The reviewer will often spend an inordinate amount of time relaying such unessential data as background gossip, "best" lists and an alarming volume of space on film finances- usually relating to either the film's budget (as if the writer had a financial stake in the enterprise) or opening weekend receipts, neither of which has the slightest bearing on the film's aesthetic achievement.
-to be continued