Tuesday, October 02, 2012

Notes on Films

(1)  The film Critic and the Film Director

The director’s job is to make the movie, give it an imprint distinctly his own. He is in his element while he is working, and later on, when producing the final print which is released to the public. The critic’s job is to carefully analyze the film, in the context of the movie, as well as that of the director (for, most valuable critics have made a thorough study of the director in question), and point out the different finer points which the one-time viewer (who comprise the majority of the viewership) is likely to miss. A critic is also the gatekeeper to the interaction of two entirely different media: film and print. The director is subject to a lot many stresses, besides his own artistic and other doubts ad certainties which finally find expression in the finished movie, whereas a critic hones his skill with each movie he critiques. He creates nothing, except a subjective mass of information which is valuable and often, novel.

What we have is production, and appreciation; not production and consumption, which closes out the product cycle (considering cinema as a product). The critic is a stand-in, more or less; he is not indispensable but he adds value. The critic was, in the 90s, so institutionalized (no reputable newspaper or weekly would be without one) that it is quite safe to say that the critic had a role, albeit insubstantial, in the fate of a movie in the market, at least in western societies.

A director’s medium is film: the movie. What the movie tells is the director, frozen in a particular timeframe, or for all eternity, depending on the philosophical resonances he succeeds in putting across. The critic’s medium is print. The common thing is the movie; but it becomes almost transparent, for the critic assumes that it is life he is talking about.

Is it any wonder, then, that when a great director talks, it is about abstract things which seemingly bear no resemblance to his work at all (Robert Bresson is but one example), and, when some directors ‘crack’ when put under pressure to speak about their ‘work’, they come up with nothing but banalities (Adoor Gopalakrishnan). The true film buff, however, knows what to appreciate: he loves the movie or hates it, according to merit, loves the director nevertheless, and also takes the critique well—often with a pinch of salt.