When I was five years old, I went to the cinema for the first time. It was a matinee screening of Finding Nemo. I was so excited because the pictures and the colors seem so vivid and the sound felt very close and real. My mom said that I can’t stop standing up to see the film better. I felt the beauty of cinema. And it resonates with me until this day.
There is no doubt popular culture could be something life-changing for several people. One could watch a certain movie and be transformed by its narrative, and walk out of the theatre as a new person. History has proved narrative and visuals to be a strong force in change, both negatively and positively. The population of sharks declined since the 1975 release of Jaws. The KKK rose from obscurity after the popularity of DW Griffith’s The Birth of a Nation. The Day After Tomorrow raised awareness on climate change. And Princess Leia from the Star Wars saga constantly appears around the world during 2017’s Women’s March. Art can imitate life, and thus life can imitate art. It is amazing how you can change the world with a camera.
I’ve been writing about films since 2014, in a joint project with my friends called Common Folks Reviews. I continued writing my own reviews after the blog was put on hiatus. Since then, I have learned a lot about writing reviews.
Through my ventures, I realize that reviews are not just about determining whether I like the film or not, but time after time I also learned that every film has its purpose. Pretty sure the production of, say, Schindler’s List and Brokeback Mountain, has different reasons behind it, despite both of them being drama films. Spotlight is made to raise awareness on the inside story of a group of journalists who will fight for the truth, while Birdman is made as a character study of a fading creative. These reasons reveal themselves as I watch the film, may it be through its narrative, cinematography, acting, and particularly, the intrinsic message the director is trying to tell us. Sometimes I would review films according to my preference, but more often than not I’m trying to review films based on how far it reaches to achieve its purpose. Some films are worse than others, but that statement is relative to different people. Whether or not it achieves its purpose is a universal question that most of us could relate to.
Referring back to how films change lives – sometimes I would have ~revelations~ on how a film relate to a certain issue/theory/another film I read/watched somewhere. Life imitates art, and art imitates life, so bear with me when I make those references. You might not think it’s necessary to compare films to a certain scientific theory, but I think it’s pretty fun and I like to read and write about it. For a pretty long time, I have incorporated film analyses to my school essays. I calculated the possibility of the fight scenes in Hero for physics class, I wrote about finding Earth-like planets in Interstellar for geography class, and I’m thinking about writing about the accuracy of the portrayal of missionaries in Silence for my anthropology class. It’s pretty fun because you get to apply something you have learned into a narrative you’ve seen, and you can reveal new, hidden things about the film by incorporating it with something you already know. Besides, as a reader, you get to learn something new! These kinds of analyses are mostly spoiler-y, and you can check them out here.
And, besides scientific theories, I like to relate films to my own life story. Films could be a medium for one to evaluate their life choices. If we’re stuck in a situation that is relatable to a character in a film, a great film might address us what we should or should not do, based on the outcomes the character experiences in the narrative. And, while I write about my life, I hope it relates to yours too, and I hope the film resonates with you as much as it resonates with me. You can check that part of my narrative here.
From these statements, you can see that films play a big part of my life, and I am constantly amazed at how this easily-accessible audiovisual medium could change people’s lives, including mine. As a conclusion, this blog is not merely a film review blog – here is my life in film.
You can see my film rating scale in my Letterboxd account.