A good film is the spice of life!
I started Deeper Film to explore the meaning of great films. I believe in film as a unique and powerful art form, to tell stories about ourselves as human beings and help us understand the world and our condition.
But there are so many film reviews out there already!
Much of the reviewing of film is superficial and concentrates on the sensational or celebrity. Even in thoughtful reviews often there is a lack of analysis as to what the story means. In my view this misses the point of film. We can get caught up in the technology, the stardom, the media culture of film and miss its most basic reason for existence: to tell a meaningful story.
Film can be fun, sexy, exciting, energizing, entertaining, and thrilling. When done well it is also a profound teaching instrument, about life, virtues, religion, family, and our deepest longings and dreams. it gives us permission to laugh and to cry with other people, to be taken to emotional places we don't always allow ourselves to go. It is artistic expression taken to its fullest; the moving image in the service of the human story.
oil painter and writer I am fascinated by both images and words. In film I find the fusion of these two elements of human perception. There is nothing like the experience of good live theater; but because live theater is expensive and therefore out of reach for many, film has become the new theater, the theater for the masses. This mass-produced quality is not always a good thing; Hollywood films are notoriously bland and boilerplate. The films selected to be reviewed by Deeper Film have to have a measure of artistic merit and unique quality, that stands them apart from the norm of Hollywood. Often that means I will choose independent or "art house" films to review, but I also try to include films that seem to have captured the nation's consciousness.
Deeper Film rates each film reviewed with a score on a scale from 1 to 5. The categories are Depth, Acting, Plot, Originality, Production, Entertainment, Demand on Viewer, and Overall.
Depth — How far down does the story penetrate? What questions does it ask? Does the story mean anything below the surface, or is it just for eye candy?
Acting — How natural and convincing is the acting? This variable really can make or break a film. Sometimes one character is well done but the others are weak, and sometimes one actor will carry a whole film.
Plot — Nothing will ruin a movie faster than a bad plot. No amount of great acting or great special effects can save a bad plot. How well thought out is the plot? Does it move along or is it plodding? Does it take artificial turns? Is it tightly constructed so that each element in the film belongs there? Does the story serve the message? Is there irony or an unexpected turn somewhere?
Originality — Have we seen the story before? Is the ending too predictable? Does the film have a vision and a language all its own, or does it just parrot other films? Is the topic of the film unusual or one that we have a hard time discussing because of its taboo or disturbing nature?
Production — Does the story serve the production, or the production the story? Some films are exercises in gratuitous production, meant to "wow" the viewer with computer graphics, loud explosions, fast editing, and the like. This put the cart before the horse, and rarely makes for a good or memorable story. Production can included everything from the edited timing in a dialogue scene to the use of 3D to evoke mood. In documentaries this category refers to the journalistic quality of the piece.
Entertainment — A good, original, well-told story is ALWAYS entertaining. Sometimes films miss this altogether. They aim at "entertainment" and in doing so become precisely the opposite! They are boring. When films really shine is when their sense of rhythm, timing, drama, sight and sound delight the senses and give one a feeling of being taken to another place. Even a documentary ought to have enough sense of artistic craft to entertain and not just deliver a ponderous lecture. Slow, quiet films may not entertain in the same way as peppy, upbeat ones, but they can do so and many do so quite remarkably.
Demand on Viewer — Some films may excel in the above categories but be out of reach for most people because of complexity or length, or be inappropriate for children, or have a preponderance of disturbing images, and so forth. This does not detract from the films, but as a service to the reader I try to point out when the film is highly demanding or exhausting.
Overall — My overall recommendation. Most of the films in this blog will come highly recommended, but occasionally I will review a bad one. Nothing like a little contrast!
If you see a film that you would like reviewed here, let me know that too. Send feedback through the comments section below the posts.
Happy Film Going! And may the force be with you.