movies

A Rant on Internet/Twitter Film Reviews

As a recent super flop film was on its first television run(the hindi version, a month after its release) Twitter was quite active once again with the  same hysterical reaction that accompanied that film’s release. Seeing them, a fellow Twitterer quipped:

As you figure out antecedent of diff. angles of film criticism in blogosphere, makes one to flinch away from blogging or writing reviews..

Word.

Everyone in the Internet world is a film critic now. And everyone is as cynical, if not more, as the one before him.Especially when it comes to Indian films. At least right now, I’ve seen it happen only with the Hindi ones, because of its reach mainly.

Over the past few years, I’ve turned towards the school of thought that gives it’s filmmakers a chance, not from the word go, but from what we actually get to see on screen. This doesn’t mean you give them some kind of a benefit of doubt and defend them till death but only that we list out a set of good things about a film and set of bad things about a film. Then, you weigh the balance but also put a value on these good and bad things and see how they outweigh one another. As a movie buff, I believe this is a far better way to judge than, say, doing a Taran Adarsh by saying whether this is paisa-vasool or not. And whether Raghubeer Yadav is brilliant or okay or passable or wasted. The system is not unwarranted. Nor is it something deemed impossible to work in the Indian scheme of things(wrt film industry). It might not have worked with the kind of films we got to see in the whole of 1990s. But in the last decade we’ve seen able writers and directors exploring different themes, different kinds of filmmaking and bold enough to treat subjects differently. Now when we have got this far, it is a far more rewarding experience, for both the audience and the makers, when there is some amount of thought and justification in film criticizing. Yes, I agree we still make those completely trashy movies. We have trashy filmmakers, average filmmakers, good filmmakers, excellent filmmakers and an auteur or two(or maybe more). I am not asking you to adjust your analytical device, checking for zero error or advancing it by a unit or two, while criticizing a film with respect to the director involved. Not at all. But a film by its own merits deserves a bigger chance. And trash where you can. Also, film criticism is ultimately derived from ones opinion. You may give me the argument that “Everybody is allowed to have his/her opinion.” Of course, not denying that. But what if, in a lot of cases, the opinion is somewhat influenced and seems almost universally conditioned.

That’s where the Internet/Twitter comes in. It’s almost a derivative of social conditioning. Like social network conditioning.  Do not misconstrue this to be in the same league as anti-elitist or Internet Hindu kind of accusation. Of late I’ve seen how there is an utter disregard for almost every Indian film that releases(only Internet/Twitter am talking about). Most of the time even before it releases. Some of the indie filmmakers are given the benefit of doubt(hypocrisy is the major problem here) but the mainstream efforts are all considered trash and waiting to be dissed. The famous/prominent person’s opinions are taken for granted and widely shared all over and believed to be true. This might sound scathing or accusing but I’ve seen it happen. It’s almost like real life Inception is happening! People going into the movie have the pre-determined idea that it sucks thanks to Internet/Twitter. So they don’t give a damn and live tweet. Live tweeting a movie is the most in thing right now. People look at their phone screens more often than at the movie screen. I am pretty sure that if they leave their phone screen for sometime they’ll catch a moment or two that they’ll actually like and enjoy. Convictions are dictated by the best they’ve seen and there is no room for moderation. Things can only be awesome. If they are not awesome, they are downright trashy. Also, with people making a living out of trashing movies(I admit it’s brilliant talent and much fun to read), nitpicking has become so cool.

Oh well, that’s the rant and I really don’t have a solution. And I am quite happy in my movie buff world.

As for Aisha, for being a chicflick/romcom, you could do far worse than this one. A fairly faithful inspiration of Emma(yes, it’s more Emma than Clueless unlike what a bunch of you think), the film hits the right notes when it transforms the Highbury setting into South Delhi with it’s myriad of playful but engaging characters. It falters with some bad direction in the final twenty minutes(also ridiculous dialogs), that pulls the film down by quite a few notches. But the first half and until Aisha’s epiphany, it’s laden with some light moments that make for good viewing. And of course, #GRCA material.

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21 thoughts on “A Rant on Internet/Twitter Film Reviews

  1. Aditya,

    Nice Topic to write on.
    I agree these days everyone seems to go with reviews on blogs/twitter etc.
    I am as puzzled as you are as in movies box office or reviews more likely are impacted by reviews.

    Take Ravaan, i personally think it wasn’t that yuck movie…but somehow these so called popular tweeter trashed it like anything!!

    You are true,its more like inception, you go to movie thinking oh that guy gave 1*, this girl was written horribly abt this movie, this person dint like it..and finally our views get influenced!!

    I think we must watch a movie and see how we like it and rather than go blindly with others views!!

    We cant expect ManiRatnams to make movie to make some dumb popular tweeters to write good about their movie!!

    but Twitter/blogger/Internet is here to stay and i wish people write sensibly on reviews!

    Adi: True!

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  2. I do agree with a lot you’ve said. There is definitely a mob mentality on Twitter where groups of people put certain films on a pedestal pre-release and/or jeer at another one, again, pre-release. Which is why at this point I give 0 credence to anyone’s opinion except 1 or 2 professional critics and 1 or 2 friends whom I know are fair and unbiased.

    And while live tweets are *a lot of fun* to read based on who the tweeter is (I am looking at you, maxdavinci! :) , it does make me wonder how much attention was even being paid at the big screen if all that typing and replying to tweets is going on!!

    Adi: Haha I wonder what maxdavinci has to say about this!

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  3. I completely hear you. It is almost like when it comes to Indian movies, we want every movie to be a “Nayagan”. I dont know where it comes from, but tolerance has gone to minimum, so much that we dont see the minor details which sometimes makes the movie what it is.

    Raavan I feel was a classic example. The movie had its flaws like every other movie does. But for some reason they were glorified and the good parts of the movie was just sidelined.It is almost like saying anything that is not the twitterverse/bloggerworld views is not cool!

    Adi: Yeah exactly, Raavan was so universally trashed without second thoughts. Totally sucks.

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  4. While I do agree with you in most part about everyone on the internet being a movie critic, it is also important to remember everyone is an active consumer of what the internet throws up. So, if promoters of Aisha want to use social media to propogate their cinema as opposed to just traditional media, they have to be ready to face the tweets. Good or bad.

    While I haven’t seen the movie or followed the tweets about any movie continuously or appreciate/hate the live tweeting, I will say this, it is here to stay. Consumers are the kings and people like you and me or someone else we know ;) drive the market. And why not?

    Another point – Team Aisha only pointed out good tweets about them. Which is not the way it should be on social media. So, no points to them on that.

    Adi: This is not about how Team Aisha used social media or anything. It’s about how Internet reacts to a film. And how it has a negative ripple effect all over without any original thought/opinion. A case of recent positive ripple effect? Inception is greatest movie of all time.

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  5. I agree. I like to give directors a chance.But only what they deserve.
    Agree there are some directors who really want to try something different, that should be appreciated, but there are also many directors who make movies like its their birth right and also think the audience will watch anything they dish out.

    Adi: Agree. But the unfair dissing has gone too far

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  6. Yep. My thoughts exactly on how reviews are going and fwiw, the individual consumer’s brains aren’t being used to form an unbiased opinion.
    I liked Raavan. After seeing it, I was quite puzzled why everyone branded it as god-awful.
    I could go on, but maybe I’d do it on my space :)

    Adi: Yes do write on it!

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  7. you wrote a post abt me? Awww cho chweet I’m touched!

    But then I watch very closely and give out spoilers only when it is utter crappy. I really feel reviews must not give the plot away, which is the reason I began reviewing. A lot of so-called reviewers write the whole story in a para and then say, watch to find out how it ends. That is probably the worst thing to do.

    I noticed one thing while looking at the #Aisha hashtag. A lot of people were posting dialogs, scenes as they happen. which is lame. But then no point defending all these.

    There are many like taran adarsh, but there is only one brangan! Same analogy, change names….

    PS: Though I am not outraged, Take the tonty five roobees

    Adi: Err FYI it’s not about you. It’s about the hysterical reaction meted out to some movies over the past few months. You ended up being a part of it, unfortunately :P

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  8. Aditya, I dont read reviews of movies that I plan to watch(for the rest of the movies i dont care about the reviews except Brangan ofcourse) and regarding twitter, I have no clue. But it cant be any different from word of mouth right? It isnt exactly that people discovered their opinions right after twitter/internet. I do agree that atleast in my case, they do influence my watching experience which is why I avoid in the first place.

    But What you have written is a mob phenomena and these things can hardly be controlled.

    Adi: I think you don’t follow as many ppl as I do :)

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  9. A very nice post!
    Raavanan did get affected the most by Internet/Twitter reviews I think. I thought it was a brilliant movie.
    I still don’t understand why people complain about Aisha.. wasn’t Emma’s character itself kinda irritating..anyway haven’t seen the movie!

    Adi: Ty!

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  10. As always — well written Wolfie :)

    About Aisha — being a Sonam Kapoor fan your opinion mustn’t count at all :P

    Adi: Oh am a fanboy for some people like Kamal etc. Sonam hasn’t reached that level yet!

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  11. With a microphone at our fingertips it has become ever so easy to shout out our opinions. It’s like every new movie/book/play is on an auction. On one hand it brings up a thought – is this what democracy really looks like? :D

    Looking forward to watch Aisha, being an Austen fan and everything!

    Adi: I think being an Austen fan helps!

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  12. In a way this issue reminds me of the VCR boom in the late ’80s. People thought that would be the end of cinema. We now know better, don’t we?

    Have mouth, will talk. Have Twitter, will tweet. The onus is on the filmmakers – good and bad – to overcome the issue. If you don’t want people texting away at cinema halls, make your story gripping. If I have invested Rs. 200 on a ticket and the only way I expect to make 100% paisa vasool is by saying cheap things about it, I shall. (My ‘I’ of course is generic).

    I seriously think Raavan sank because it did not appeal. If Twitter and Net reviews were all-powerful Aadhavan wouldn’t have been a superhit. Why, even Aisha is doing well at the BO despite all the meanie tweets.

    Adi: It’s about giving the movie a chance. Most of the tweeters start tweeting because they know the movie sucks before going in. What am saying is, that’s not the way to go. And I am not sure if ppl do this to Tamil films mainly due to the reach of Tamil films(not that much). And Aisha is not doing well!

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  13. Enaku indha prachanaiye kadaiyadhu ;) I don’t tweet (agreed, cuz I don’t know how to use it!) and I don’t let reviews faze my opinion of a movie primarily because I’ve got my own set of judgment criteria interms of (as shallow as it may seem) star cast, personal character of the star cast (reallY! :D) etc so…en surely en view thaniii view aa irukum!

    Adi: You don’t get twitter ah?! :P

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  14. Takes less effort to follow popular opinions on movies/books than form (and defend) one’s own viewpoint

    Also much easier to spew vitriol through a blog/tweet on a film since there’s no retribution possible – if someone dared to criticize a big star’s movie outside a cinema hall, they’d probably be lynched by the fan faithful

    Adi: Takes much less effort yes, probably it’s all about the levels of obsession with cinema, like Amrita points out.

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  15. Well written! BR’s reviews are amazing because he takes the time to look at different aspects of the movie rather than label a movie as ‘good’ or ‘bad’. I’ve started viewing movies differently as a result of reading his reviews. It takes a lot of courage (and tons of hard work) to direct, produce movies. I feel that sometimes viewers fail to recognize that when they review/critique. For me, movies are a lot like test matches. You need not win all the sessions to win the game.

    And live-tweeting during a movie is the most annoying thing ever. Seriously. I hate spoilers – irrespective of how terrible the movie may be. Why go to a theater to tweet?

    Adi: Thanks! And it’s not always about spoilers, it’s about utter disregard!

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  16. I read this when you first put it up and went away to think a bit more because I was about to write a blog post in your comment section. :D That didn’t work out so well and I’ll probably make an actual post about it at some point, but let me say:

    I guess I watch different cinemas with in different mindsets? In Bollywood, the first thing that connects to me is sincerity. It’s so easy to see when someone’s made a cynical “product” as opposed to a movie.

    I also think I used to be a lot more harsh when I didn’t have to write down my opinions. Writing and editing make me think harder, ask more questions, and evolve flippant one liners I might make with my friends to thoughts that I find accurate and defensible. And that’s what I respond to in the writing of others as well.

    There are movies though that were definitely made for the live tweeting treatment, like Eclipse and such. If I were less obsessed with film and on Twitter, it’s definitely something I would have done because shit is funny.

    Anyhoo! Aisha: people who think it’s Clueless:
    a. Have never seen Clueless but have read it’s like Clueless.
    b. Have never read Emma but have seen Clueless and think Clueless invented most of it.
    c. Haven’t seen Aisha.
    d. Lack the ability to compare and contrast.
    e. Genuinely think it’s like Clueless, in which case I’d like to hear from them.

    I strongly suspect the majority are A followed by B.

    Adi: I get that about different mindsets. And that is what I was hinting at too, to these people watching Aisha. For some reason, nobody wants to see it within the realms of a romcom. Oh and that point about “if I were less obsessed with film and on Twitter…”, yep, that’s key!

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  17. It *is* Emma, full and full.

    Also, the interwebs allow me – *me*, she of the “I watch 4 films a year, and two of them are MMKR and Aanpaavam” – to be a film critic, diss a padam, and feel superior and posh posh. So hush.

    [That was sarcasm. You know that, right? Right.]

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  18. It’s group think – the best thing that sells in India:

    Everything that has an internaational award(intentional misspelling) is good!

    Hindi Film music is bad, screw the rich history of Film music. Only listen to ‘great’ international music/bands.

    Only the Indie films in Hindi Cinema are good!

    There are countless other examples.

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