Monday, January 26, 2015

Scribbling in the dark

In an earlier life, I reviewed films for a small-town daily newspaper. It was pre-Rotten Tomatoes. Pre-internet. So if you wanted to know if a movie was worth your $5, you read newspapers or hoped Roger Ebert and Gene Siskel reviewed it for their TV show.

USAF Snipers by By Tech. Sgt. Bonnie A. White (USAF)
[Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
Today, I don't review films. And I try not to wade in to debates about controversial films. I saw The Interview on pay-per-view. And I may see American Sniper, Clint Eastwood's latest film. But I'm unlikely to write about either movie.

I gave up reviewing films because I found scribbling in the dark distracting. I wasn't experiencing or enjoying the on-screen stories. I found myself analyzing the product, much the way testers at Consumer Reports test toasters and microwaves. In a way, I was contributing to the PR buzz for feature films.

And I decided that I wasn't happy as an underpaid cog in some studio's star-making machinery.

Today, I prefer seeing films for their entertainment value. And to forget about the outside world for 100 minutes or so.

But I have an opinion about filmmaker Michael Moore's recent comments regarding American Sniper. His viewpoint, based on his family experience: "snipers are cowards" who've been known to shoot people in the back. Moore was criticised for his viewpoint by (not surprisingly) Fox News and Sarah Palin. He shared a response on social media, which is partly captured here.

My view: Moore makes powerful documentaries that can be very persuasive. So he should do what he does best: get behind a camera and deliver his point of view on film, digital, or whatever medium he chooses. He can upload what he creates to YouTube or another site. Getting into a social media volley with Sarah Palin and her followers lends too much viability to a marginal politician whose own sense of judgment leads to another set of questions.