>Regardless of my opinion…

>can a movie be good, I mean really good?

Or is it a matter of taste?

I have come to the conclusion that the single biggest issue regarding film criticism has to do with the subjective/objective split. In other words, can we say meaningful statements about a given film that are not ultimately subjective, and therefore just a matter of opinion? Much of the debate around how criticism should be done stems from issues regarding this split. And it is an age-old split. In particular because when it comes to art what we all want to know, at some deep level, is whether the work is any good.

We can describe the characteristics of a film all we want, and that is a fundamental part of criticism, but finally we want to know if all that description points to something of value, or not. And if one makes the case that a film has value, is good and not bad, then we want to know the criteria being applied. Or, maybe more commonly, we assume that the criteria doesn’t really matter because film criticism, no matter how detailed, educated, in depth, and carefully referenced, is still merely a matter of personal taste. But is this true?

I plan on writing about this topic in greater detail in the future, but I have been curious about the objective/subjective split elsewhere. At the Amateur Gourmet there is a similar debate going on regarding food. I am interested in what people think, after reading that piece, if the same issues apply to film. Is the objective/subjective split hopelessly unresolvable? Is film criticism really just about carefully crafted opinion?

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1 Comment

Filed under aesthetics, movies, Philosophy

One response to “>Regardless of my opinion…

  1. >Isn’t a subjectively ‘good’ film one that was successful on you as an individual viewer, while an ‘objectively’ ‘good’ film is one that seems as if it would work on viewers in general? For example, I appreciate The Dreamers, among others, even though I know it’s not ‘good’ in an objective sense (meaning: I can totally see how few others would enjoy it as I do. I even agree with them, but I enjoy it still). Any work of art is successful only insofar as it connects to each individual perceiving it; a critic’s job is not just to see as an individual, but also to be able to see with the eyes of a greater collectivity.

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