The C conundrum.
I sit with open Evernote, twice a week, eight a month, fifty six times over seven months. I have nothing to say, ever.
What if I missed it? Totally misread meaning and intent. They’ve spent years, I’ve given it two, maybe three, hours. Three hours to their thousands, my grade condemns their promotion. This may be their last attempt at earnest humanity while I move hastily on to the next.
A. There’s a handful of A grade films that pass through committee. Nothing so easy to write as praise and admiration. Feels good, feels accomplished, glides onto the paper with assurance and satisfaction, linguistic twists mimicking filmic turns. I could write an endless assortment of A level adoration.
b. that bane of overachievers everywhere. B, that signifier of your exemplary achievement except for A above. b, that not quite as good as the other but better then most infuriation of your personal ineptitude. So close yet so…
okay enough. B, sometimes because the visual ambition doesn’t match the narrative demands. B sometimes because the audio is ill resolved or the phrasing incompatible. B because the actors step themselves outside the vision. But B probably because you’ve mastered every element of filmmaking (staging, directing, pacing, editing, sound, etc etc etc) except that one. That one, you know which one. The Story is still b.
C, reconsider, rethink, rewatch, reevaluate, reposition, C films mire me in a sludge of indecision. I funking hate C’s. Sincere appreciation for the enthusiastically mundane or condemnation for the accomplished pedestrian, take your pick. My writing trudges forward looking for that elusive tone of support sans derision. Someone spent tens, maybe hundreds of thousands creating partial mediocrity driven by illumined intent, you can’t help admire their ambition yet pity their vision. Then, the rub, again. Maybe I missed it? Critics miss, rank brilliance as bullshit or bafflement. Reword, rethink, reconsult the notes that resemble Venn diagrams of insecure understanding and unsure resolve. Rewrite. I sincerely hate C’s. Not the films but the work, indecision and guilt. My comments on C’s are C level comments of reach, justification and rationalization. Please firstname.lastname@example.org send me an endless string of plodding, pedestrian two hour documentaries by earnest do-gooders, but no more C’s. It’s psychic and decisional torture.
D is separated from E not by a too apparent lack of quality but in the level of thinly veiled apologetics required. E’s display a compete lack of filmic justification while D’s present some interesting approach wrapped in serapes of incompetence. E’s are funkily challenging in that way of critiquing without condemning. D’s deserve earnest recognition and encouragement. More often then not the one thing a D gets right is, ironically. The Story.
Random collections of impressions and prejudices, references to other works and a general sense of how this film rates in relation to similars, the last film watched, my mood, what I expect and what an audience might accept. My notes generally consist of two pages of legal notepad scrawled with observations, quotes, related references and attempted thematic analysis. Arrows connecting ideas around asterisks marking important points with numbers and underlines for clarity, emphasis and connecting the dots…Crappy films lay all the dots on the ground during the first ten minutes then spend two hours rearranging. Good film watching is collecting the dots the storyteller strings out over the course of a viewing. Finding out what dots the filmmaker is playing with and how those connections communicate their meanings to the audience is some endlessly fascinating stuff.