Beyond Mere Criticism | REGARDING 2018
I go into this website to talk about films critically, though not with the intention to be critical. However, 2018 brought some films that I couldn't watch just through this lens. These were films I reacted to beyond mere criticism.
Perhaps the key example is Solo: A Star Wars Story. Most people seemed to think this one of the most unessential Star Wars movies or one of the worst since the prequels. And despite me rewatching this movie looking for these holes and flaws, I have a really hard time finding them.
Even cheesier moments like the origin of Han's name don't phase me. I think it's a great, exciting Star Wars adventure with a rollicking score by John Powell - and the movie's up there with A New Hope and Empire for me.
I wonder if my inflated appreciation for the movie is just because I'm a Star Wars fan. But then again, I don't love Rogue One and I can honestly say Attack of the Clones is a not-good movie. I think Solo came at just the right point in time for me, where I could see myself in Han and get inspired to face the difficult and impossible in my life journey.
It's because of this I'm not sure whether I believe it is a near-flawless movie, or I find myself unable to see its flaws. Nevertheless, I can say that Solo is a movie that had a tremendous effect on me, one of those movies that people talk about in their origin stories, one of those movies where talk of quality and metaphor are inconsequential, one of those movies of significant meaning to this viewer.
Now a movie like Christopher Robin comes out and people want to know how it is.
I grew up with Winnie the Pooh, and the chubby little cubby all stuffed with fluff has a special place in my heart. Now I don't think the live-action film is one of the best of the year. But as a lover of Pooh and a fan of McGregor, I thought it was a 6 out of 5 hunny pots kind of film. What would be 4 stars or less to others more tired of Disney's animated revival machine (or those less inclined to visit the Hundred Acre Wood) was perfect for friends of Eeyore, Piglet, and Owl, I thought.
And I left the theater happily, perhaps even humming.
It's kind of funny how we make film criticism out to be objective when our worldviews, film literacy, and moods radically affect reactions. Some say the subjectivity of cinema is its beauty. To an extent, I agree, but I think more specifically, our story with a film can be a beautiful thing, even when lacking the objectivity factors.
For example, I'm not literate in documentaries. I've seen countless narrative features and shorts from a variety of creators, but I may have seen 30 documentaries that I can remember, at most. I can't really tell you what makes a good one or a bad one.
But I can tell you I was moved by Won't You Be My Neighbor?. I don't know what makes it a great documentary or just another documentary. While watching it, though, I thought about how one man had a mission in life and found a medium through which to execute that mission to the end of his days. Fred Rogers had a call to create, observed his culture, and began his programs, which he saw as a ministry.
As a creator and a writer, I thought of how I could do my equivalent to his work. I don't think I'll do exactly what Mister Rogers did - my scripts tend to be fairly dark for his tastes - but where can I execute my mission, my calling?
Will I always be on this site, commenting (hopefully) meaningfully on films?
Will I weave stories that affect people, affect culture?
Or maybe my journey takes me to places where wide recognition is traded for being a help to clients?
I don't know now. And maybe I won't know my story's significance for some time. But I hope to have the persistence of a Han Solo. I hope to have heart of Fred Rogers and the curiosity of a stuffed bear and his friends. I hope to remember that moving forward is faith.
This significance, to me, is far greater than mere criticism.