Why are your reviews so short & why do you call them haikus?
(FILMS FOR TWO response dated
February 2, 2002)
We keep our reviews short for two reasons: the first is pragmatic and the second philosophical.
We call ourselves the online guide for BUSY couples. Our primary mission is to help our readers sort through the never-ending barrage of PR and opinion, especially the hype which surrounds the “opening weekend” of a major studio release. We tell you what we think you should seek out and what we think you should avoid. For example, there are periods (especially in the summer) when your best solution is probably to pick up a video or turn on a cable station. If you venture out to a theater, at least one of you is likely to return home annoyed.
The internet is an ideal vehicle for quick, self-directed searches, and we’ve done our very best to organize and design this site for maximum efficiency. You can point & click, move from category to category, zero in on items of interest to you according to your own tastes, and send your selections to your personal pick list. We follow the KISS principle (“keep it simple, stupid”); we’ve streamlined the words and minimized the graphics because we respect your
These pragmatic concerns for your time (and our own), stem from a philosophy that is very different from most of our online and print competitors. Since we started FILMS FOR TWO in 1999, we have become acutely aware of what other people do when they “review” a film. We find that most film criticism is really film journalism, that is, most of what we read (online and in our daily papers and weekly magazines) consists of first impressions done on deadline. If you want to see how wrong film journalism can be, you have only to scan through a book like THE NEW YORK TIMES GUIDE TO THE BEST 1,000 MOVIES EVER MADE in which Bosley Crowther said the following about
LAWRENCE OF ARABIA the day after it opened in 1962: “It is, in the last analysis, just a huge, thundering camel-opera...”
The thing that annoys us most about film journalism is that it tends to be very plot-heavy. If you’ve read one or two reviews, chances are you start to watch a film knowing at least half of the story and many of the best lines of dialogue. But film is not a literary art form, and some of the most important elements of a good film are not captured by a summary of its screenplay.
That’s why we call our reviews haikus. Technically a haiku is “a Japanese lyric poem of a fixed, 17-syllable form that often simply points to a thing or pairing of things in nature that has moved the poet.” In our case, a FILM FOR TWO haiku is a 50 word summary that points out the strengths (performance? music? energy? cinematography? historical &/or political importance?) of a film we think you should see. If you read a haiku in our database, then you know we recommend that film even if it isn’t perfect. But if at least one of us doesn’t think a film has sufficient value, we simply say it “does not meet (our) criteria.”
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