I used to write movie reviews. Did you know that? I wrote reviews for the Georgetown News-Graphic for about a year. I went on maternity leave with Brynna and never came back. I don't think they really missed me, though. I miss it. A lot.
For my mad writing skillz and my critical viewpoint on modern cinema, I received one free movie ticket to the movie which I would be reviewing. This was bestowed upon my by the local theater, not the paper. From the paper I received the occasional thanks, and sucky assignments. But I still miss it.
At the time, I was the only female reviewer. So, I got the chick flicks. Have you people met me? Chick flicks, really? (Okay, I admit to liking The Notebook and crying like a girl and possibly, just possibly, writing an annoyingly gushing review of it.) And kid's movies. Which I didn't mind as much. But, I didn't get anything I was dying to see. SciFi geek girl extrordairre, here, and I got neither Star Wars nor Lord of the Rings nor Harry Potter. Self proclaimed scream queen got not a single, solitary horror movie. I got The Lizzie Maguire Movie. I am not making this up. And yet, miss it I do. And it's not only because I now only see three movies a year.
Writing movie reviews is sort of the perfect job for me. I love movies and I love writing and to combine them both is just pure heady perfection. But what I miss even more than the movie watching and review writing is the part that came in between. The part where I walked out of the theatre and began to analyze the film's merits. Because what reviewing came down to, for me at least, was telling people if it's worth it.
Lots of reviewers look only for what I'll call artistic merit and don't pay enough attention to details like watchability. While other reviewers hate artistic merit and only care about explosions and sex scenes. I wanted to be the voice of reason in the middle. I wanted to be able to say, wow this movie was really heavy and great and deserves awards, but it's kinda draggy and not that great for a date night. But this movie, while funny and sort of enjoyable will leave you walking out wondering what the hell happened to the last two hours of your night.
I liked being able to discuss characterization and cinematography in a setting where no one looked at me like my head was on fire. I love weighing the artistic arc of the story against a clear, unmuddled plot. See, while books create the same sort of magic, (but better) they don't need a clear, unmuddled plot. There is more freedom in a book, to do what you wish, but there are certain rules to movie making (like they can't be 14 hours long) that limit a film maker's ability and change the style of art. A movie is more akin to a short story, easy to write - but incredibly difficult to write well - than a book.
Which is why I am always confused by people's desire to make books into movies, generally they are too long and detailed to be done justice and then everyone complains because the book was better. Serious tangent here, but Stephen King's best books are at least 500 pages long and sometimes (It) 1,000. But the movie, It sucked. It sucked big time - and it was a miniseries, so it was actually 6 hours long. What are King's best movies? Shawshank Redemption, Stand by Me and The Green Mile. Two short stories and one of his shortest books (written in serial style which also lends itself better to movies). Okay, sorry about the tangent.
Last night, we saw Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince. I was thrilled. I loved it. I cried like a baby. I was enraged. I hated it. I was disappointed. I cried like a baby. After the movie, we stood outside and talked, the whole book club, and discussed what was good and what was not good and what was (SPOILERS IN NEXT TWO LINKS) totally left out and what was totally made up. And while I enjoyed that conversation immensely, it reminded me of why I miss writing movie reviews. Because even people you love will look at you like your head's on fire when you say that the cinematography was much more subtle than the last installment and should be commended. And also because discussing a movie just won't ever buy you the same sort of clarity as sitting down with pen and paper and analyzing the crap out of it.