2014: The Year of Positivity

This was mostly my husband’s idea, but I figured I’d put up a little post about it so you know where I’m coming from this year. Current internet movie culture is all about extremes – everything is either the best or the worst thing ever made. I’m speaking in generalities, of course – there are many critics and bloggers writing on the internet who consistently bring a nuanced understanding of film (in general and in regards to specific films) to everything they write, but often the overall tenor of the conversation surrounding new releases, especially during summer blockbuster season, is one of two entrenched sides yelling either for or against a film with no middle ground possible.

I hate this.

Ultimately, both extremes are unhelpful to any sort of real criticism or understanding, but the negativity has been bothering me and Jonathan a lot lately. I mean, we’re in this because we love movies and we enjoy watching them and talking about them. So we’ve decided to try to make 2014 the Year of Positivity. I’m not entirely sure what this will look like or if it will turn out to be a beneficial thing for us or if it will end up making us dishonest and pandering about things that actually aren’t good and lose our discernment, but here’s kind of what I’m thinking at this point.

I’m going to skip most of the “big” movies in 2014. This is where most of the internet’s rage gets focused, for obvious reasons, and it’s also where fanboy mentality gets the most rabid, both for and against. This goal is made easy because with a 1-year-old in the house, I won’t be seeing too much of anything. The point is, I’m going to be extremely selective. These are the films that are most likely to have inflated expectations, end up disappointing, and become the center of extremist debates.

If I do see something I don’t like, I’ll probably just avoid writing about it. I am going to try to write more in 2014, but I find I’m much happier writing about things that, well, make me happy. I tend to do that in general, but I’m going to do it with purpose this year.

If I see something that has some elements I liked and some I didn’t, I will likely focus on the things I liked. This may lead to me giving some films a pass that don’t deserve it, but in truth, I really do like most films. I’m going to stop making myself apologize for that by pointing out all the problems.

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I’m going to steal Ryan McNeil‘s concept of taking a “souvenir” from every movie I see. Even movies I don’t like almost always have SOMETHING I did like. A certain scene, or a performance, or some dialogue, or something. I’m going to take those souvenirs and treasure them.

I’m going to avoid phrasings like “xyz thing was good in the film, but…abc other thing was not.” It’s really easy to write that way, and I’ve done it a LOT in the past. Really, for me it’s a way to feel nicer about tearing a movie down, because hey, I gave it some props first. I don’t want to be like that. Similarly, I’m going to avoid phrasings like “xyz thing was good; too bad abc other thing made xyz thing not matter.” I’m not saying that everyone who uses these rhetorical tactics is wrong to do so, and sometimes they are appropriate, but I know that my tendency is to overuse them so my review feels more “balanced.” Whatever that means.

Really, I probably won’t write “reviews” as such. I haven’t really done that for a while, and even though I hope to write more this year and about more films that I watch, I have little interest in the consumer guide form of criticism, and enough sites are doing a much better job of that than I can I at this point in my life, anyway. Hopefully I can find some other way to make my blog useful.

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I’m not going to get involved in internet debates over whatever the hot-button film of the moment is. That is, I’m not arguing over whatever 2014’s Prometheus turns out to be. I’ll give my opinions, I’ll give the reasons for them, and agree to disagree if it goes further than that. Basically, if it’s going to get me mad, I probably won’t engage. Life is too short to spend it getting angry over a film we’ll all have moved on from in six months.

I’m not going to get involved in the hype cycle. I already tend not to watch trailers because I want to go into movies as fresh as possible. Beyond that, movie marketing has gotten insane with all the trailers and posters and teasers for trailers and posters and casting news and casting rumors and everything else. It’s too much. I’m exhausted before the movie even comes out. And then two weeks after it opens, everyone’s on to the next one. It’s ridiculous, and I’m done with it.

This post has a lot of negativity in it, in talking about all the things I don’t like about current movie fan culture on the internet. I’m going to try my darndest to have this be the last time I mention that, too.

I love movies. I take great joy in watching them and sharing them with others. If they’re not as a whole bringing me joy, something is wrong. The Year of Positivity is an experiment. I’m excited to see how it goes.

Cinema-Paradiso