Monday, May 23, 2011

TEDx: towards more intelligent and engaged film literature

My TEDx talk about film writing is online now - video embedded below, and the YouTube link is here. (Note: twenty minutes - with the constant awareness that the clock is ticking away - is scarcely enough time to articulate most of one's thoughts on a very complex subject, but I tried to cover a few basic points about film reviewing and longer-form film writing. When I get the time, I'll put up the text I had written out as preparation for this talk. Meanwhile I will of course continue to write on related subjects through my columns and blog posts, as I have done in the past.)


  1. Yes, it indeed is difficult to condense all that you know of the subject into a 20-minute talk. Perhaps that's the reason why I'm of the opinion that you are better writer than a speaker (maybe it also means that I'm a better reader than a listener).

  2. I'm of the opinion that you are better writer than a speaker

    Indisch: oh, little doubt about that, I would think. Though you should keep in mind that writing is my profession of choice as well as my primary means of expression, and something I've worked on for years - whereas public speaking is most decidedly not! In that light (and given the constraints of course), I have to say I was fairly satisfied with this talk.

  3. P.S. "Public speaking", did I say? Actually, I find speaking quite a strain even when I'm in a group of close friends or people I'm really comfortable with!

  4. Jai, I think this was a very nice talk -it succinctly delineated the issues/peeves we have and discuss about on this blog and Bardwaj's - about righting the perception of reviewers and the work that they do.
    However,I believe, such a discourse can be more beneficial for the layman when it is about film appreciation in general and not about film reviewing specifically. There may or may not be much overlap but if the concepts about former,like irrelevancy of authorial intent etc are known to the viewer then the latter becomes more accessible,automatically.

  5. Do you think one can actually list down the points that one should keep in mind when reviewing? I mean we are all acquainted with your style. It's comprehensive and enlightening and generously sprinkled with trivia. However, there are lot others, like you mentioned, that can be seriously blighted.
    However, it's fairly easy to dislike a review, we can point out the drawbacks. But is there anything substantial that the reader can actually add to the value of a review? Like you said 'a different perspective' - can such a thing be added by the reader to a review? And if he's capable of this, does he become a reviewer too , in a sense a critic of the critique?

  6. What a great idea for a talk! I think you did a lovely job raising and outlining some of the major components of the sharing of ideas and opinions about films. I agree with Rahul that much of this applies to reacting to and thinking about film more generally - and is (or at least should be!) relevant to anyone who bothers to think about movies.

  7. A wonderful talk, Jai. Full of insights - you must put up the text, or better, write a fully developed piece on this "very complex" and fascinating subject.

    I also thought you could teach a thing or two to people in the corporate world who (mis)use slides for presentations.

    I'm presently in Bangalore, and I intend to (finally) pick up those two books in the coming days.

  8. thoroughly enjoyed ur talks....gr8 video to share....will look out for the books

  9. Great job - well spoken! I do agree with your viewpoints on film reviews - and one of the reasons that I started reading your blog was not because I agreed or disagreed with your review but because I really liked your writing style. Film review should be in-depth and written well. It doesn't have to be instructional but it should definitely be informational - so that it allows the reader to make his own judgement on whether that movie is for him or not

  10. Nice talk!
    Had never heard you on video before.

    Agree on most points.
    Though I think the limitation on the film-review length isn't necessarily a bad thing.

    Wasn't it Orson Welles who said -
    "Absence of limitations is the enemy of art".

    The greater the constraints, the greater the economy of expression - which is one of the important attributes of art of any kind - be it film making or film reviewing.

    I like Dave Kehr's capsule reviews - often perceptive despite the short length.

    Here's a capsule review by Pauline Kael. Appetizing yet perceptive!

    Alfred Hitchcock’s amatory thriller stars Ingrid Bergman as the daughter of a Nazi, a shady lady who trades secrets and all sorts of things with American agent Cary Grant. The suspense is terrific: Will suspicious, passive Grant succeed in making Bergman seduce him, or will he take over? The honor of the American is saved by a hairbreadth, but Bergman is literally ravishing in what is probably her sexiest performance. Great trash, great fun.