What is this blog all about?: A Screener manifesto.

thetencommandments31Screener has been moving along nicely for a while now and has suddenly found itself among a bunch of other Melbourne-based film blogs, which to my mind is a great thing. The Internet can be a great space to build a community of film appreciation. But in order to distinguish itself from the crowd, or rather, to better define Screener’s identity, perhaps it is time to set out Screener’s mission statement, its raison d’etre, its manifesto, its Dogme 09 if you will. The rules may be broken from time to time but think of these ideas as Screener’s ideal. Perhaps other blogs already fall in line with these ideas. Maybe other blogs will read this and follow these ideas. This is fine because it will contribute to the culture of film appreciation that is Screener’s ideal. Okay, let’s begin.

This blog is not an arbiter of taste. Screener is not trying to set itself up as an authority on what is good and what is bad. Our aim is to provoke a conversation about cinema, not to assign values.

Star ratings are death to cinema appreciation. Walking out of Cinematheque’s screening of Au Revoir, Les Enfants, a man described the film he had just seen as ‘Very good. A four star film’. When cinema culture leads to people seeing such a film with such complex messages and all they get out of it is a numerical value, there is something very wrong.

Screener is interested in films in terms of what they do. Cinema at its best is an experience that changes your perspective and ideas about what it is to live in this world. Because it is ideas as results that are interesting, films will never be assessed on such mundane things as ‘quality of cinematography’, ‘tightness of script’, ‘quality of acting’, ‘entertainment value’. Screener is not so snobby. The gender performances in She’s the Man are potentially as interesting as those of an Almodovar film. Conversely, films that have the mark of ‘quality’ and do nothing, or reinforce dominant or regressive values, are looked upon with suspicion. The fetishism of Tarantino’s films are potentially as spiritually empty as that of the Sex and the City Movie.

Screener is perhaps pseudo-academic. This is for a reason. In terms to understand what a film does, or how it works, it often helps to have a theoretical framework or understanding of the context of the director’s past work. This is perhaps the goal of Screener reviews: to suggest one prism of thousands through which to read a film. So from time to time we’ll drop a few names like Laura Mulvey or whatever. Don’t judge. Embrace.

Screener believes (perhaps in an old-fashioned way) that there is something special about seeing films at the cinema. It’s a communal experience that we encourage by telling you about all the cool cinema stuff that happens around Melbourne. When it comes down to it, Screener believes in cinema as a community. And ideally, it’s a community based on the discussion of ideas and the broadening of understanding through the cinema rather than attaining cultural capital through the assertion of one’s taste.



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6 responses to “What is this blog all about?: A Screener manifesto.

  1. I’m in the same ballpark about cinema, but I don’t have time to discuss in detail. I think cinema should be seen ideally on the big screen, but it’s not always possible. In such cases, you may have to settle for the third-rate experience of DVD, the fourth-rate experience of video, or the fifth-rate experience of computer downloads.

    Talking about numbers, I don’t have a problem with star ratings or lists per se, as long as they’re not used as the sole manner of describing a film. People have different brain types and organise information differently.

    I see blogging as both a personal exploration and also as a communal experience.

  2. Jake Wilson

    More blogs should do manifestoes. “Ideas as results” is a good, provocative slogan. If you haven’t read it, there’s a great interview with Manny Farber and Patricia Patterson where Farber talks about “intellectual content” in a similar way.

  3. catabloguing

    I think that same guy was at the Cinematheque last week. He also gave the 1927 ‘Chicago’ “four out of five.”

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