Front page of current issueContents of current issue
What's in Festivale, including cover stories, the tour, indices, and what's new
what's new, Festivale's revision historyGo to the online shopping mall where all the on-line stores areThe Bookroom: News, reviews, linksReel Life: The movie section with film commentary, coming attractions and release dates, links pages and more.Technology BytesFestivale's guide to Melbourne and Victoria, photos, maps, linksFestivale's guide to Melbourne and Victoria, photos, maps, linksLast month's Reel LifeNext month's Reel Life

Jan-Feb, 2009

Reviewing Criticism

Movie poster, In search of a moonlight kiss, film commentary

Columb Brennan was a reporter of the old school. He was told me that he never panned anything, not even a cricket match. He was a gentleman. That is not a prerequisite for media hounds today.

I'm not so nice, although I make a point of looking for good and bad, writing the balanced report. But who am I kidding here? Sometimes even the popcorn sucks.

Festivale from the beginning has had a policy of double-reviews. Two reviewers for each movie wherever possible, and for software and hardware, if a product is seriously panned, a second reviewer is brought in.

This is why my review for In Search of a Midnight Kiss is such a departure. There's something particularly strange about how doing reviews changes your outlook.

I don't mean the opportunity to be witty and 'smart' at someone else's expense (see Critic's Choice with Bob Hope and Lucille Ball), or to be just plain mean, vindictive and destructive. I mean that with a 'free ticket' comes a price. Somehow paying $15 to see a movie that is a waste of two hours is less annoying that seeing a really bad movie for free. Don't ask me why. Maybe at $15 I want my money back, but free, I want the two hours back.

Film criticism is serious stuff (for dramas and comedies), measured, thoughtful evaluation with due consideration of allusions, metaphors, construction, story arcs, the list goes on. Criticism takes in the whole of the film, which is why we are careful to identify the REVIEWS in Festivale from the COMMENTARY in our sister site, Reel Life (

A review is simply a looking-back (re-view). A Festivale review is meant to be the response to the film by the reviewer, with enough information about the film to give the reader an idea of whether it's something they might like.

Reviewing and reviewers are delicate things. There's an Australian reviewer who, if he hates something, I organise a group booking to see it. I know I am going to love it. This is why reading reviews by the same person gives one an idea of their taste and how it tallies with one's own. So, if you routinely disagree with me, and I hate a film, set up a group booking of your own. It won't hurt my feelings. (Why should it, I won't know.)

As you look through our reviews and monthly commentary, you may start to bond with the reviewers. Like Helen Hanff looking at marginal notes in books, you may even shout "Comrade!" (see 84 Charing Cross Road). It's all in the spirit of sharing 'the most emotional medium' (see Irreconcilable Differences). And if you are moved to move a (useful) comment, click the your view buttons. As you can see from some of the pages, we post comments from readers, especially if they are corrections or answers to questions raised in the reviews.

With the re-issue of Festivale in 2009 (the editor crashed, but we're rebooting her) we are looking at how many people are interested in joining our band of volunteer contributors.

Please feel free to contact us about submitting reviews or commentary. If you have a particular interest, for example, the films of John Cusack or Orson Welles, then excellent. Annotations reviewing the DVD releases of movies previously reviewed are also of interest. We'd like to document the extras, especially noting awful menu structures, material missing depending on the regionm, whether it is the theatrical release or the American bible-belt television-for-the-wowsers version.

We look forward to hearing from you all in the future.

Ali Kayn
Melbourne, Victoria, Australia.
Dec, 2008.