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Filmstalker EIFF 2009 Roundup: Episode 15: Running in Traffic

Microphone.jpgThe fifteenth in the series of Filmstalker EIFF 2009 Roundup audiocasts has myself, Stuart and Jonathan discussing Running in Traffic.

Jonathan picks another of his worst films of the festival and with the Scottish film Running in Traffic.

If you haven't been following this series of audiocasts, then you can catch up by starting with Episode 1: Introduction and take it from there, or see the entire list on the Filmstalker Audiocast page.

You can also follow the Filmstalker audiocasts, which are going to continue from this EIFF special, through the Audiocast only RSS feed or directly on iTunes.

After this episode we'll move onto Nature's Grave (Long Weekend) (Filmstalker review), a film that Stuart equally hated, and I think I might just get a little bit hot under the collar about this one.

In the meantime, here's the fifteenth in the series with myself, Stuart Wood, from Cinemablend, and Jonathan Melville from itsonitsgone discussing Running in Traffic.



I've been waiting for this to be put up. Have to say I'm really disappointed to hear this is a let down. I've been watching it's progress for a while now. Shame.

Thanks Scotty, someone's listening!

Get onto the last of the series and tell your thoughts on the audiocasts too.

Who are Stuart and Jonathan anyway? Are they reputable critics or just movie fans with an opionion?

What do you class as a "reputable critic"? Personally I've always favoured fans of film who have an opinion, after all that's what I am.

Have a look at their sites and see their writing and reviews and then you'll see what they are about.

Personally I think they are both excellent writers and have a superb knowledge of film, and was delighted to have them join these series of audios.

Hello Richard,

To answer your question

What I mean is reputable critics who actually get paid to review films because they have an educated opinion. People count on this. Film fans count on this. We like to hear what insightful, educated and observant people think about the same things that everyday people do. Mark Kermode is a prime example. Even if the films he reviews or discusses don't strike a chord within them... they do evaluate, contextualise their judgements and question the motives of the filmmakers.

And we listen to, watch or read reviews because of this very reason. Everybody has got an opinion. Everybody is a film fan but merely 'Slaughtering' a movie placing such audio online for 5 minutes is lazy journalism at it's best.

Why even bother discussing something or writing a review unless you are prepared to respect the demands of film audiences, their diverse tastes and varying opinions of what a good or bad movie really is?

Interesting, I don't tend to favour paid reviewers over anyone else, in fact I tend to prefer film fans who review (Kermode does also fit that category), like myself.

What you're suggesting is that us non-paid film fans who talk about films they like don't have insightful, educated and observant opinions, opinions which I find often get in the way of something very important, enjoying films.

You can't say this is lazy journalism when on the other hand you're saying we aren't reputable critics who are insightful, educated and observant.

Look, I've even heard Mark Kermode attacking films in his audiocast and saying nothing good or redeeming about them, and that's just in the last few audiocasts. If he doesn't like a film and doesn't think it has any merit then he says so.

That's what Jonathan does, and with much less vitriol too.

Going back to your opening point, "just movie fans with an opinion", well that'll be the paying audience then, not the paid and subsidised professional critic.

You prefer film fans who review? I can even agree with you to a point - if they can talk for more than two minutes without immediately resorting to narrow-minded opinions, personal taste and hit or miss reviews. THAT is lazy journalism. It is a big thing to talk publicly about art. And those who do have to know what they are talking about.

Think about the people reading or listening to them, the public (myself included) which is exactly my point with Jonathan and Stuart. Just because YOU think that they are 'excellent writers' or have a good knowledge of film doesn't put them in the same catagory as the people who actually care about the audiences, the people who can connect with audiences, the ones who can hold down a full time being critics of any art form? You cannot be objective on this point - you are a critic yourself!

Ross and Kermode have hammered films before but they do exactly what makes us listen and respect their reviews - They contextualize and elaborate to better communicate their opinions. The people who read reviews want something more than a thumbs up or down which is what the readers or listeners really want. Anybody can do that!

If J and S cannot take the responsibility to indulge their readers or listeners with more intelligence, objective critisism and overall a more insightful opinion of what moveis are all about, then they are opening themselves up for critisism like this. If they are going to say 'I loved this movie' then tell us why and why we should go and see it and spend ten bucks of our own hard earned cash. If they hate it then they have to be prepared to do accept the fact that there are people out there who will no agree with them and challenge them.

Ask anybody in the street who has seen the 'The Godfather' movie and ask what they thought of it, you'd probably get something close to Jonathan and Stuart's offerings. If they cannot elaborate beyond the norm then what is the point? Am I to guess that they just like the sound of their own voice?

Allison, are you involved in the film in any way? It's clear that you haven't listened to the other audiocasts in this series, any of Jobathan's or Stuart's in particular, or looked at their own writing before, and there seems to be a bit of hostility towards them on this one review.

This is part of a huge discussion about the films from the EIFF, and these sections were where we discussed the films we disliked the most from the festival, indeed I did my own in one of the episodes on Long Weekend. Elsewhere in the series we wax lyrical about films we've seen and the reviews go on for some time.

I don't think this is lazy journalism as we aren't journalists, as the mainstream are so keen to point out, we're just bloggers, and as we said, just film fans, the audience.

I'm not a critic either, I'm just a film fan too who writes about films, and both Jonathan and Stuart have as much right to take part on the site as everyone else, even readers get to submit reviews and articles, anyone can.

Sure both guys can take criticism, and I'll invite them both over here to comment and defend themselves.

I don't get this arguement. I really don't.

It seems to me what in essense you are saying is this; If I am not educated to what *you* perceive as your acceptable level of literacy or drawing a paycheque as some form of validation of my opinion, then it isn't worth hearing because we aren't properly versed in whatever field it is you perceive as being required as a baseline to make an informed opinion.

Kermode's review of Transformers 2 was a video of him hitting his head off solid objects for 2 minutes. Is that elaborating and contextualising? All I know is it was funny, accurate and entertaining. If I can achieve those things as a baseline I consider my job done. If I can bring some insight to the table beyond the norm I will try, but I won't, as some do, shoehorn it in, just to try and score cheap pretentious intellectualism points as some others may do.

People tend to read/listen to reviews to gauge an opinion against their own tastes, not to indulge every movie in some philisophical debate of worthiness and insight.

Our reviews and indeed this podcast varies in depth, context and humor, just as much as the varying reviews in the well respected Empire magazine do. I would never try and compare myself to their esteemed level, but they too vary from simple 50 word summaries of whether the movie is any good or not, to more deep discussions of what the movie does or does not try to achieve in a wider context. As Richard mentions, in the entire podcast we cover all these bases, from the wide discussion to short summary base-toucing and the fact that you single us out for such vitriol on this one particular topic makes your own motives for adopting such a tone in such a way open to scrutiny of its own.

Okay, okay, back up. I count at least 5 accounts of diverting the point! I HAVE listened to many of the 'Audio' casts by J and S this week. I'll single them out if you like? But why? To keep on arguing with you? To start a flame thread? One, that will not go anywhere!? I have made my opinions clear. I have got much better things to do and my work here is done.

I was referred to your website for research by a journalist where I have formed my own opinions. And here we are dealing with you, and right on cue you jumped out like so many of the other 'underground' site masters with a tuppence worth of twaddle to spout. If you had any deceny or less time to spare you would leave me to my opinions and take my point like I take yours. Jonathan and Stuart have little that is intelligent to offer the world of the intelligent cinema goer. Or anybody that demands something more than personal opinion. They are not the first! I didn't say 'nothing' I said little by way of insighful. Sure you can skim the surface of Transformers but what about the kids who are old enough to appreciate a toy banging off the head of a grown man, maybe that was his point!

Why labour the point? You think by blurring the lines of professional opinion (Kermode and Ross) and the rest of the worlds professional critics levied against your desire to listen to 'movie fans who review' is going to change what people really regards as an intelligent opinion then you're mad.

I had been listening to them all week (and others) while researching an article for British Cinema and coverage on The London Film Festival.

The sum of my work right now is about bloggers and underground mouth organs who think they know what they are talking about in the arts world - this prompts a lot of interest from many sources. The questions is...Who really know what they are talking about when it comes to art and in this case, cinema? That is my debate. You want the guts of it...Okay. What struck me generally about your site was J and S's true to form assembly line inability to engage me as listener for the purposes of my arguement and henceforth, my research. So I asked who they were and I got a reply. I'm someone who appreciates film and respects a little more than just anybody telling me what is worthy ten quid ticket and two hours of my life? You are damned sure I am not going to listen to just anybody! And this is way off the point. I asked who J and S were. And you jumped right into their bunker and on the defense, stating what YOU thought they were professionals and you value their opinions. Good for you.

I haven't even seen any of the films they are talking about. I'm posting here because this was the inception for my first question. If you are trying to root out another cause by asking silly questions to further prompt your readers then pull your head.

And to quote you...

People tend to read/listen to reviews to gauge an opinion against their own tastes, not to indulge every movie in some philisophical debate of worthiness and insight.

I said most of this earlier and for the record to answer your question... But why not? Why not indulge the fans of movie? What is wrong with more philisophical orientated debates? I know every movie is not the Bible nor its moving image counterpart your reviewing but let's be grown up about this. If you value having an opinion, then surely you must value the opinion of your readers. Grant them with a little more intelligence than what we're getting.

Allison. To point out why I keep responding, it's because I engage and talk to the people who comment on the site, it's what the site is about, it's why I have given up almost four years of my spare time to build it and watch and review films, and because many readers and people in the industry have thought I've had something valuable to say. So for you to belittle that immediately by bringing out the old "reputable journalist" versus "just a movie fan with an opinion" - a very demeaning point and why I came back with the point that movie fans are the paying audience - is why I responded.

Then you come out with attacking comments like this to inflame the argument and wonder why we're responding!

"...you jumped out like so many of the other 'underground' site masters with a tuppence worth of twaddle to spout..."

I'm not an underground site master and I'm happy to meet you face to face and discuss my opinion like an adult.

As for what you consider "twaddle", that's the opinion of a paying film fan, whether you like it or not, an opinion that many readers and those who make film do.

I would suggest your research is already biased as your opinion from your opening argument is that we are not worthy to talk about film because we're not educated, paid, etc.

You brought up the elitist argument that normal film fans aren't worthy of giving their opinion to anyone as they aren't educated or paid to do it, so I, and Stuart, thought it only right to point out that these people you deem worthy to do it can be just as empty and void of journalistic criticism as you deem this entire site, and ourselves, to be.

You'll find that many film fans don't want to listen to a review of a film using lesser known words, delving into the psychology and the untold story of the character's motivations, or the symbolism which may have been hidden inside the film but was picked up by the educated, paid, critic.

There are a lot of people who want to know if the film is entertaining, will it make them laugh or cry, is it suitable for their friends and family, and that's that.

Back to an earlier point. It's clear that whatever your doing your research for your opinion is made and it's very strong, because there's line upon line of attacking and demeaning comments.

To your closing paragraph, it's clear you haven't read many of my reviews as I (and this is Richard here, not Stuart) do spend a lot of time writing about a film and have actually been criticised for lengthy reviews before. I look for the good in a film even if it's terrible, and spend a lot of time writing about that. Indeed, as we've already said, in this series we spend more time talking about other films, films worthy of a more indepth review.

However the medium here, and the fact that it was taken from such a lengthy audio, mean that the films we really didn't enjoy got the equivalent of the Kermode head bashing.

You see intent on polarising the positions here. There's nothing wrong with a deeper debate, we're not saying that, and in many of my other reviews I do just that, here I can assume that the guys just thought there was nothing more there to give.

Perhaps you should see the film, read more reviews, listen to the rest of the series, and build your research on a more balanced opinion.

I do value the opinion of the readers. That's why there's a comment section, that's why the site is here, and that's why I engage them here, on Facebook, on Twitter, and in real life. That's why I'm engaging with you, despite the negative and obviously biased viewpoint against film fans who "aren't educated".

Allison, I tried to offer reasoned arguments to the points you brought up, you then attack me as being a twaddle-merchant.

Word of advice, when you stoop to personal attacks in a debate you automatically lose your own side of the arguement.

When you compound that by saying "your done" and yet continue for another 200 words of negativity, you've just contradicted yourself and made it obvious that you're simply trolling for attention and reaction.

Good luck with your research, but if you intend to go continue with it with such obvious slant you are only making your own work harder.

Interesting thread, nice to see the audiocasts getting discussed, which I think was one of the reasons we did them in the first place, to lead a conversation about new films and the EIFF.

To put them into some context, as Richard tried to do, the three of us got together at the end of a long fortnight to try to summarise a broad range of new films screened at the Edinburgh International Film Festival.

Due to time constraints and the fact we wanted to cover so much in a short period of time we opted for the discussion format. These were never intended to be in-depth reviews but an overview of the films.

For longer reviews you need to check out our respective websites which should help put things into perspective.

If people don't like what I say or the way I say it then they don't have to read what I write - I'm not forcing anyone.

I like to think I have a fairly rounded knowledge of cinema to be able to offer some views that might help others choose what they see.

I doubt anyone listening to these would rely on them alone to inform their cinema going - I know I rely on a range of sources for different views while also knowing what my own tastes are.

While I'm happy to be known as a blogger, and have been writing film reviews for the last 18 months or so on my blog, I have actually been paid a number of times for my reviews by the Edinburgh Evening News, since the 2008 EIFF in fact, and I still write a weekly film column for the paper.

What I write for them is broadly the same as I would write for my own blog. Does the fact that the newspaper ones are in print and paid for make them more valid than the "free" ones?

Or does the fact I was a blogger first mean they don't have value?

You ask who really knows what they are talking about when it comes to art and in this case, cinema?

I'd say going to the cinema regularly, watching films at home on DVD, listening to podcasts, reading other reviews or books/articles about cinema is a good place to start, all of which I do.

Does that mean I know what I'm talking about? That's up to the reader of my blog to decide, or in the case of my newspaper work, my editor, who reads the article or review before anyone else, and then the newspaper buyers.

I respect anyone's comments about my work if they are willing to give their own views back on the film in question, with their own name beside them.

Maybe you could interact with some of our individual reviews in a reasoned way rather than generalising about whether blogging is valid or not?

I think that would be more valuable to all of us in this discussion as I'm sure you have some interesing views on modern cinema - and, if you can get them printed in a newspaper or magazine and paid for them then that will, of course, make them more valid.




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