Just so we’re clear, I don’t think “agreeing with me”, makes somebody a good critic; some of the most interesting critics I seek out I find myself vehemently disagreeing with quite often. But I do differentiate between people who are true critics, and people who have an opinion. They say everyone’s a critic, but that’s not true; everyone has an opinion, that’s true, but not everyone who has an opinion, is a critic. At least to me. I know some who disagree with that…- perhaps a more proper term instead of critic, would be pundit. I am not a “Film Critic”, I am a “Film Pundit”? (Shrugs) Eh, that’s sounds too weird. Yeah though, in a world where it’s actually quite easy to, well, do what I did, get a blog, or a Youtube channel or whatever and regurgitate your thoughts on the films you’ve just seen, perhaps it shouldn’t be that easy.
I want that in big letters, ‘cause I don’t want anybody thinking this is an absolute. That said, I created an exam. An exam for critics. (Well, an outline of an exam) Let’s say for the sake of argument that a good critic, whether I agree or disagree with you, should be able to self-analyze and in a sense, criticize themselves, and be willing to have their standard as “Critic”, challenge by answering these question. They’re not all questions that have a definitive answer, many of them are essay questions, okay. Again, while I do believe a critic needs knowledge of the art they’re criticizing, I don’t believe a critic needs to agree with me, or with you, or with anybody.
Again, this is JUST FOR FUN!!!!
Think of it like Mad Libs for critics, or something. Don’t take it too seriously. For those wondering, I will try to answer as many of these as I can. Some of them, I won’t be able to, ‘cause, like one of them just says “90 Questions Film History Quiz”! I’m not writing 90 questions on film history for this blogpost, and then answering them, okay? (Besides one person shouldn't write the test alone anyway, you'd only have to be as knowledgeable as that one guy; what's the sense in that?) Some I don’t want to give answers away to others, if you or some critic you know might want to take the quiz. For instance, here’s another question: “Name ten female directors?”. I can do it, but I don’t want to give answers away. This is an outline or diagram of what a Movie Critics Exam, might, hypothetically look line. (And I don't know exactly how well I'd do either; I might do bad on this quiz myself in your eyes for all I know.)
The big one that I was wrong on however was a documentary called “House of Numbers” that I watched while judging movies for a film festival. I really was brought in by the movie and instead should’ve done more homework on it. For those who don’t know, it’s an “AIDS is a Conspiracy” movie, and yes that’s something that exists, people who don’t believe in AIDS, and frankly it was convincing for me. As filmmaking propaganda, I would argue it was really well done and convincing; at the time, while it didn’t make me outright join this far-off sector of the conspiracy nutjobs, it got me thinking about a lot of it. I now know a lot better and frankly, I would absolutely tell people to avoid it now.
Okay, I’ll start with me. Despite my primary focus in writing now, I didn’t come at film from a creative background. I earned my Bachelor’s Degree in Film Studies from UNLV, but I came primarily from an intellectual background. I was a studious student and learner who seeked out knowledge of all kinds from several sources. Despite all this, I also grew up in a video store and believe that entertainment of all kinds is the most important and necessary aspect of humanity. They say the birth of modern humans, started on the coast of Southern Africa when humans started shaping personalized designs into their spearheads and arrowheads; you can literally mark the moment when homo sapiens stopped basing all their actions and movements towards survival with a need to keep themselves entertained and the need to create for the sake of creating. I also grew in Las Vegas, a tourist town known for trying to keep our guests as entertained as possible, so to me entertainment is a powerful and essential part of our lives and I find it particularly frustrating when we come home or take a break from the normal everyday struggles of work and family, to want to sit down and find something to keep you entertained, only to find truly abhorrent excuses for entertainment to come across your eyes. I have a weird combination of a MENSA-level IQ, complete with an audio-visual learning ability and an obsessive need and desire to learn and seek out more and more knowledge of the world and of film, with a particular slant towards caring deeply about what we are allowing ourselves to be entertained by during those off-moments from work. I think a lot of times, when I seek out critics, even those I admire, you don’t always see this combination of perspectives and I believe it is valuable to put something like that out there into the world of film criticism, which is why I feel that it should be added, and so, I did that.
“A Clockwork Orange”
So, instead, I want this question. What are your great trash movies; I think this says more about you as a critic. I won’t explain, but I’ll give mine. Um, “Smokey and the Bandit” is probably at the top of my list. “Psycho Beach Party” that’s a favorite. “Alice in Wonderland: An X-Rated Musical Fantasy”, I enjoy that more than I should. “Striptease” I still contend would be funny if Demi Moore wasn’t so badly miscast in it, so I guess I’ll say that one. And, I have an affection for “Chasers” when I really shouldn’t.