I was shocked and angered on Sunday evening when, while enjoying the company of old friends and a box of wheat thins, I read the “movie review” offered by Barbra Davis. Opening with a criticism of Tim Peyton’s work, Davis finds Tim’s reviews “distressing”, she goes on to argue that a critical review is “NOT about [Tim’s] and his own personal biases [caps present in original publication]” and that Tim fails to define some of the terms he uses. Further, she writes, “the record is not a soap box, it is a means of communicating news in an upbeat fashion; or it should be.” Let us examine these claims one by one.
First, let’s discuss the critical review aspect, which Davis claims “[Tim] seems not to understand.” Davis both fails define critical review (for the lay folks out there) and does not make any discernable arguments regarding why the critical review is superior to what Tim offers us. Tim’s reviews, while liberally spiced with his own individual experience, do not detract form the reviews’ ability to communicate with and inform the reader. Rather I find that these personal stories lend breath and context to the review. If we are to take Davis’s review of Atonement as the gold standard of film reviews, we are left with the impression that the ideal review is a dry summation of plot lines with a simplistic and warn-out rehashing of tenth grade English metaphors and themes. In short, the kind of review you can find on any of a thousand news stands or WebPages; the kind of review that leaves the reader feeling that they have just enjoyed the uniqueness of a McDonald’s hamburger.
Second, the role of The Record. It should be obvious to even the most casual reader that the four sentences that stand, in italics, atop Davis’s “ATONMENT: A CRITICAL REVIEW” are in bald faced contradiction to the claim she makes that The Record ought not be a “soap box.” To quote
Greer Paris, prominent community member and COM-CIL representative “This is the record.” I agree, in principle, that the Record is/ ought-to-be “a means of communicating news in an unbiased fashion” yet I question the notion that a movie review is/ ought-to-be considered news or can be written in an unbiased fashion. On this last point I contend that no matter the reviewer, in any field of art, he, she, or ze brings their own prospective and identity to the review process. Cretin cultural metaphors and norms cannot be considered as universal and “unbiased.” In Tim Peyton’s work we find an acknowledgment of this reality and by virtue of the admittedly personal writing, we break down the illusion that that we can identify with a film review as anything less than one humans lived experience with the silver screen. Thus Tim’s reviews embrace the transcendental.
In closing, I stand firmly with my friend, Tim Peyton, and affirm the merit I find in his work. Though I appreciate the discourse offered by Barbra Davis, I, along with my wheat-thins box, must draw some slight attention to the problematic nature of her peace in last weeks Record. If you haven’t yet, be sure to read Tim’s review this week, I’m sure you will enjoy it.