An excerpt from Joseph Jon Lanthier's review of the DVD release of Mike Leigh's film NAKED inspired this blog post. Why? Because it perfectly sums up my philosophy towards film criticism as a card-carrying cinephile. (Full disclosure: I have no such card.)
How much do I love this perfectly polished nugget of JJL's? So much so that I think I shall order it needlepointed on a pillow, so that I might bite said pillow in frustration whenever a small-but-stubborn segment of my beloved Twittersphere pushes lively film discussions aside for more personally targeted attempts to douse my irreverent but ever-curious spirit in the name of formalism or territorialism.
I love debating film on an amateur level and don't even mind good-natured accusations of my possible insanity due to my opinions on any given film. It's when people start reprimanding my attitude or personality that my ears begin to release righteous steam. That's why this commentary by JJL feels like a veritable battle cry to me.
Now onto the JJL quote proper, which first came to my attention thanks to Alejandro Adams' Twitter stream.
Here we go:
"The critical impulse is often tethered to a fierce self-destructiveness; at our most useful, we unleash dangerous ideas that are intended, at some level, to be virulently rebutted and scoffed at. Any assessment of the value of these ideas must be structured around their ability to rouse others from torpidity. Criticism, at its most trenchant, stimulates as the at-first-befuddling tug of the hair or the interpretatively panicked blow to the gut. Comfort must be eschewed at all costs..."
What do I have to say about that?