In yet another of Reverse Shot’s innovative, time-saving measures for aspirant film writers, we are proud to present the first installment of our Dictionary of Received Film Criticism. Rather than struggling under the weight of 100+ years of film history (much of which is difficult to easily grasp), this invaluable tool will allow writers to quickly and efficaciously locate the correct and established opinions, attitudes, and observations about any number of cinematic topics.
THE DICTIONARY OF RECEIVED FILM CRITICISM
Bring It On: SEE Guilty Pleasure.
De Palma, Brian: A mechanical genius, but his movies have no LIFE.
Disaster: SEE Parallels (Historical): post-9/11 anxiety.
Documentary (or Documentary-Style): There’s no tripod.
Eyes Wide Shut: Snigger upon its mention.
Guilty Pleasure: Anything that you like which you pretend that you don’t want other people to know that you like. The real answer is always pornography.
Horror movies: The sordid affair of 3rd tier staff critics; always improved by a “dose of necessary macabre humor.” Classics: Psycho, Texas Chainsaw Massacre, Suspiria, Halloween, Nightmare on Elm Street.
Ming-Liang, Tsai: SEE Antonioni, Michelangelo and Keaton, Buster. Sad and funny chronicler of Urban Alienation.
Murray, Bill: A standard-issue comic before Rushmore; now “a deadpan genius.”
Ozu, Yasujiro: A master. To be cited on the occasion of any Oriental movie in which the camera does not move for 30 seconds or more.
Paradox: Originates between two smirks, in the New York Press offices. Catch the tenor in the screening room, then form an inverse opinion. Spew vitriol accordingly. Repeat.
Ex. “there is more poetry in a single shot from one of Hype Williams’ videos—which understand pop instinctually—than in all of Assayas’s hipster-touted filmography”
Parallels (Historical): For added contextual heft, choose from the following: post-War cynicism, Cold War anxiety, “counter-culture” cynicism/ anxiety, post-Nixon cynicism, post-9/11 anxiety.
Pornography: Feign boredom on the subject.
Solondz, Todd: “Chillingly funny”; there have been subsequent missteps, but Happiness remains a Masterpiece.
Spirituality: In cinema, comprised of long, contemplative, unbroken takes. An “elevated” style, per David Thomson. Key words: meditative, austere, transcendent, Bressonian, immaterial.
Ex.: “the measured pacing combines with X’s subtly luminous photography to create restive spaces for the inward-looking viewer; it turns the cinema into a chapel.”
Tarantino, Quentin: A live-wired 21st century celluloid DJ. Or: A derivative hack; “If you thought Kill Bill was cool, you’ve gotta see—”