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A Critical Look at Critics

03 Apr
Who Will Watch The Watchers?

I asked this question once, over ten years ago, but in a different circumstance. That was just about the time every radio station believed (some of them still do) that the only way to beat the competition was to get presenters who sound foreign to work in their stations if they could not afford to hire a foreigner. So, one of basis for recruiting radio presenters was their ability to “twist their tongue” and to speak “American slangs”. And what a sordid mess some of them made! But this article is not about radio presenters. It is about Nollywood movie critics!
According to Essay-Paper.net a movie critique is not just a summary of a movie, but a critical analysis that examines why and how a movie works and whether the film succeeds in its presentation. A movie critic’s job is to watch a movie and then critique it using certain terms of reference. Some of these include: how strong the script or dialogue is; how strong the acting or characterisation is and what the theme or central idea behind the movie is. The critic also provides information about plot outline and visual elements which could include cinematography, editing, sound effects and musical score. However, it should be noted that there is a difference between a movie review and a movie critique. Unlike a review, a critique requires that you give reasons for your opinion on a movie.
In recent years and with the growth of Nollywood into one of the top three largest movie producers in the world, a number of blogs have arisen with the sole aim of providing reviews/critiques of Nollywood movies. The promise is that they will tell you what movies to see and which may not be worth your time. Sadly, some of them seem to churn out mere publicity materials in favour of producers or film makers they adore. Or how would you explain reading a movie review, smiling all the way to the cinema, patiently waiting to buy a ticket only to end up enjoying the pop corn! I have read three different critics talk about a movie and at the end of the day I was totally disappointed at the outcome.
But why bother to critique a movie? After all, research has shown that most persons make a decision to go see a movie or not, based on what their friend’s say or what they see on the movie promo or on the trailer. Does Nollywood really need movie critics? Or to put the question in other words, will movie criticisms help the growth of Nollywood?
Permit me, like a typical Nigerian, to answer these questions with another question: would you prefer your friend look you straight in the eye and lie to you? Imagine you all dressed up for a function and you turn to your friend and ask: how do I look? Your friend looks at you and notices you have a green leaf caught between you teeth. Instead of telling you, he reasons: my guy has spent hours preparing for this event; he ironed his clothes, had a bath and is even wearing a sweet smelling perfume. He has worked so hard to look this good, why should I tell him about something as little as a bit of green stuck in his teeth? And so he doesn’t. He tells you instead that you are camera ready. Great friend, isn’t he?
So, who will watch the watchers? And who will critique the critics?
For Nollywood to reach intended heights, we do not need praise singers. We do not need sycophants who will have only good things to report about her or who will be all too willing to exault mediocrity. We need a crop of critics who will be willing to tell her that she has some ‘green’ in her teeth because that ‘green’ could just be the ‘something’ that is holding her back from being camera ready. Only when we see and take off that ‘green’ will Nollywood attain the status that it should in the world of movie/ film making.
So, what does it take to do a critical movie review? Foremost movie critic Anthony Lane, gives five guidelines to anyone who decides to be a movie critic, in his introduction to “Nobody’s Perfect: Writing from the New Yorker”:
  1. Never read the publicity material
  2. Whenever possible, see a film in the company of ordinary human beings
  3. Try to keep up with the documentaries about Swabian transsexuals {or see everything regardless of budget or hype}
  4. Whenever possible, pass judgement on a movie the day after it comes out, otherwise wait another fifty years
  5. Try to avoid the Lane technique of summer movie going
(Aside: you can learn about number five and read more about Anthony Lane here: http://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Anthony_lane)
So next time you pull out your laptop or your PC and you decide to critique a Nollywood movie, approach your review with a sense of responsibility. Remember that someone is reading and your review is not just a determinant as to whether they should go see the movie or not, it is not about helping the producer rake in more funds by having only good things to say about the movie. It is neither a time to show how much you love the film maker nor an opportunity for you to gain the recognition of the film maker so that he invites you to the next premiere. It is an opportunity to contribute something to the growth of Nollywood, a time to open up a discussion on the art and craft of film making, so that both the audience and the film maker walk away better educated about movies. If this is not your determination, I plead that you hold your peace.  And yes, if you are an actor or a producer actively looking for work, do yourself a favour – DO NOT bother to add critic to your credential!
We will be watching!
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2 Comments

Posted by on April 3, 2012 in General, NollyWood

 

2 responses to “A Critical Look at Critics

  1. videoboiawizzle

    April 4, 2012 at 8:36 pm

    @GBAM!!!!!! word is bond sis! word is bond!!

     
  2. Abigail

    April 6, 2012 at 6:34 am

    Thanks bro! Appreciate!

     

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