Bella Todd was the first guest speaker at TRBYW yesterday, and spoke super articulately on reviewing + new writing (she’s one of the judges for the Best New Play Award at the Fringe). I’ve been thinking about criticism recently while I’ve been consuming more than creating, collecting a bunch of perspectives while gathering thoughts. The (my) base belief is that reviews need heart + guts more than teeth.
∞ Five stars in their eyes: can you trust unpaid theatre critics?
“A few years ago, at a weird corporate dinner, an actor from a satirical sketch show turned to me and said, “I’ve always wondered, what exactly are your credentials to review me?” I could have obligingly set out my career path. I could have argued that the qualities qualifying a reviewer to review are as ultimately unquantifiable as hers to sit on stage naked in a bathtub doing impressions of the Queen. I could have reassured her that I made a point of never reviewing people I’d sat with at weird corporate dinners. Instead, in the absence of a critic’s exam certificate, I said: “Yes, I see what you mean.””
∞ A Response to a Review And Some Thoughts About Love or Art
“This review would be more interesting and I would give it more value if it were about Nymphomaniac and not presuppositions on Lars Von Trier (I would also give it more time if it were written in a more entertaining manner). I fail to see how one can conclude anything about any other human being through such a limited and manipulated prism as a singular film. And what’s more, there are so many elements in a film that are out of the control of the director. Do you believe Von Trier has some kind of mind control over Gainsbourg and she is merely a puppet on his hand? She is giving a performance. She is interpreting, not merely translating. The same with everyone in the cast and crew. The notion that a director or writer is the singular vision is completely flawed.
So I dismiss your premise that by examining Nymphomaniac we can know things about Von Trier, which allow us to make judgements on what he thinks about this or that.”
∞ BLOGGING OR BLAGGING. WHO GIVES A F*CK?
“Surely blogs should be viewed through the same prism we’d regard any other opinion? If my close friend Nicky tells me enjoyed a meal at NoBlowJobNoTable I’m likely to believe her whether she blogged it or not. If a total stranger walked up to me in the street and said, go to WankyNewSmokePlace I’d think, fuck off you nutter; you don’t look like you know one end of a heritage carrot from another.
Publishing your opinion doesn’t give you credentials. Newspapers we trust (and Bob Granleese) provide us with that unfashionable but valuable notion of curation. Blogging requires no such intervention and to my mind is just telling your mates if you liked something through a bloody big megaphone. Does it matter if they’ve been paid or not? If you don’t know who’s blogging it will only matter if you’re the type of person who also clicks on weight loss links on Facebook or uses Tripadvisor to plan your holidays.”
∞ Hatchet jobs, anonymity and the internet: being a film critic in the 21st century
“The world is full of people (many of them middle-aged men) who feel duty bound to be sniffy about Twilight without having seen the films…
Only if you have something to lose – something valuable, such as your heart, your reputation, or your job – does a declaration of love become anything other than simply talking dirty.
For a critic’s opinion to have value beyond the mere joy of the savage put-down or the well-constructed defence, I believe they must have something personal at stake, something they care about and are in danger of forfeiting. Whether praising or damning a movie, it is the risk to the critic’s reputation and livelihood that ultimately lends weight to their words and ensures the integrity of their review. And if no one knows (or cares) who you are or what you have done, then what have you invested in your review? What do you have to lose?”