How To Critique

Driving around England searching for yet more on Birmingham’s remarkable Cup triumph at Wembley over Arsenal, my radio dial came across a brief discussion of what makes great critic-ism.

A couple of years ago when I heard similar musings I realised there are handy tips for pitchers to take from this world.

The two ‘critics’ talking were Johnny Vaughan and Mark Kermode. The former, now a radio presenter, divulged his three rules of good criticism when it came to movies;

  1. what was it meant to be?
  2. what was it, actually?
  3. what was the difference between the two?

The latter, a full-time film critic, heartily agreed, and added that you must cover;

  1. does it achieve what it set out to achieve?
  2. contextualisation (eg. how does it reference other work)
  3. your personal reaction

Note that neither mentioned actually describing the plot.

I suffer too many times sitting through a bland narration of what something does, when instead I yearn to feel the magic of why it does so and hear where it truly shines.

Also, this particular steer is useful for anyone trying to replace or improve upon an incumbent ‘system’.

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