This is a film review weblog. Its aim is to provide a thoughtful and accessible perspective on film releases, as well as to act as a forum for stimulating discussion and a starting point for visitors to explore classic and modern films across all genres.
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Welcome to Absurdity & Serenity.
Art’s Meaning and Scope
To my mind, the purpose of art is to provoke an emotional or intellectual response in the individual receiving it. As humans, we are intuitively drawn to things that unlock wellsprings of absurdity and serenity, of original thoughts and strong feelings.
We are also seduced by beauty and form. We pause at the sight of a sun-dappled mountain peak. We linger in the wake of a sunset. Without so much as a glimmer of technical understanding, a young child can appreciate the aesthetic aspects of the universe and the creations contained therein.
For thousands of years, societies have been shaped by the minds on the forefront. Plato, Homer, Dante, Michelangelo, Shakespeare, Mozart, Beethoven, Nietzsche, Picasso – these and others were forces beyond reckoning, giant earthquakes with eternal aftermaths. They redefined the relationship between work and spectator, and changed the world as a result.
The Value of Cinema
In many ways, cinema can be seen as the penultimate and unifying art form. Literature becomes narrative; painting become cinematography; sculpture becomes production design; music becomes score; dance becomes choreography. To these disparate elements is added something unique: duration, and the subsequent opportunity to immerse oneself in an environment spun from sound and light and language.
I invite my readers to dive head first into the world of film, to experience its anxiety and elation, its moments of distress and delight. Similar to other forms of expression, though arguably to a fuller extent, the medium offers the chance to see the world through someone else’s eyes. It welcomes its participants to expand their horizons and enlarge their notions of what is possible. It moves and entertains, captivates and horrifies, enchants and transports. It shatters boundaries.
It is an unparalleled fusion of artistic energies to exert maximum impact.
Through the Eyes of Kendall Grant
Film is an incredibly, almost ludicrously individualistic exercise. I have had so many conversations with people I trust about films over which we vehemently disagree that it threatens to make any kind of objective review pointless. Alas, the answer must be in the attempt, and I hope that the site brings you some level of enjoyment or benefit.
In the interests of divulging my biases, however, I wish to disclose that I am a formalist. In a conflict between a film with a so-called positive message or bludgeoning emotional impact and a film with potent visuals, a well-crafted screenplay, and insightful characterization, I would fall on the latter side every time. Furthermore, I tend to have a disinclination for comedies, epics, and Westerns, though undoubtedly there have been masterful achievements in each category.
I most respect filmmakers who have the courage and audacity to push boundaries, to engage philosophical ideas, to demand intelligence and commitment from their audience. When combined with true originality and an exquisite degree of talent and execution, one enters the realm of the geniuses: Luis Buñuel, Ingmar Bergman, Andrei Tarkovsky, Stanley Kubrick.
Using Absurdity & Serenity
Given what has been examined above, assigning numeric ratings to films has particular and inevitable limitations. Despite these constraints, I have chosen to follow in the footsteps of those that have come before me by placing films on a traditional continuum out of 4. In order to assist with interpreting my conclusions, here is a breakdown of my ratings:
4/4 – An unforgettable masterpiece. One of the best films of the year, and a classic in the making. Essential viewing.
3.5/4 – An excellent film with a few missteps that prevent it from reaching the top. Contains top-notch storytelling and results from all involved. Highly recommended.
3/4 – A very good film with flaws that can’t be ignored, but several great moments that hold together rather well. Most viewers will enjoy it immensely. Recommended.
2.5/4 – A good film with flaws that prevent it from rising above a threshold of shoulder-shrugging. Many viewers will find it a positive experience. Slightly recommended.
2/4 – A neutral film with equal flaws and strengths. Half of all viewers might have a decent time; half will find it a complete waste. The territory is relatively safe to explore.
1.5/4 – A mediocre film bearable on the most basic level due to some redeeming qualities. Viewers with interest in the subject matter can expect a guilty pleasure.
1/4 – A poor film with significant flaws that derail most of the production and destroy much of the experience. Only the most intensely curious of viewers should seek it out.
0.5/4 – A very poor film with massive flaws. Viewers with even a modicum of self-respect should approach with serious caution.
0/4 – Reserved for atrocious films that I truly despise. The responsible parties should be appalled at their level of failure. All viewers should stay as far away as possible.