Much Ado Is Looking for New Writers!

Much Ado About Cinema is now looking for new regular writers! As a Much Ado writer your responsibility is to publish at least once a month. This could be through group pieces or an individual piece. We are very open with the subjects on which we write. We publish features, reviews, and essays concerning all aspects of cinema, written by a young and diverse group of contributors. The work we publish here ranges from graduate-level analysis, to casual commentary on mainstream television, to festival coverage of the latest films. In our work, we emphasise diversity and inclusivity, and we wish to cast new impressions on the traditionally white, male and heterosexual world of film criticism.

We pride ourselves in being a community amongst everything else. All our writers and editors are friends who communicate daily. Being a Much Ado writer won’t just give you an opportunity to publish and attend festivals but also have a community where you can engage in conversations and discussions about cinema.

We especially encourage writers of colour and members of LGBTQ community to apply. We’d like to remind you that all positions at Much Ado are unpaid (meaning no one on our team earns any money from the website) and we don’t accept any applicants who are younger than 18. You can be from anywhere in the world as long as you have a good internet connection. Applications will close on the 22nd of July. Good luck!

Click here to go to the application form.

The Critics Interviews: Anna Smith

The Critics Interviews is a Much Ado series in which we interview film and cultural critics about the industry, social media, responsibilities of a critic, and their advice for young writers. You can find all of The Critics Interviews here.

Our third interview is with Anna Smith, the president of The Critics’ Circle and film critic for Time Out, Sky, BBC, Metro and The Guardian. Enjoy!

1. In this day and age, how do you think the rise of social media is impacting film criticism?

It’s been a help and a hindrance. On the one hand, it’s a wonderful way to share the love of cinema and to bring great criticism to the public. On the other, there’s a mass of voices reviewing films and many of them don’t have the discipline, experience, analytical skills or ethics that make a good critic.

2. There has been a lot of debate recently regarding the responsibility of the media in wider culture, for example, concerning the portrayal of minority groups, or the work of known abusers. Do you think that films, and by extension film critics, have a moral responsibility to the general public? Is this something that critics should be commenting on, or is the role of a film critic purely that of artistic merit?

This is such a tough one. We have to take it on a case by case basis. I recently went on BBC Radio 4 talking about Woody Allen. Do I think we should boycott his films? No, particularly because he hasn’t currently been convicted of anything. But do I think his films represent an outdated view of gender relations? Definitely. Not just that, but they feel past their sell-by date. Those are the more important questions for a film critic. It would be pointless to destroy every Harvey Weinstein produced DVD in the library, and harmful to the other storytellers involved in great work. But moving forward, of course, editors can choose who or what to feature and a strong message is sent out if convicted abusers are shunned.

With regards to the portrayal of minority groups, that is a very different question. Representation of gender, sexuality, and race, both on screen and behind the screen, is a huge issue – and while it’s not necessarily the responsibility of the film critic to care about these things, I do and I know many others do too. Personally, I always try to tackle my unconscious bias as well as that of my editors, and in some cases, they have thanked me for it. I also take part in several groups involved with Women in Film and Diversity, and as President of The Critics’ Circle, I am committed to various schemes to tackle these issues within our ranks.

3. Whenever a filmmaker or artist directly responds to your criticism, how do you typically react? Do you ignore it, or try to inform the artist on why you feel the way you do. If or when this has happened, has the response been reasonable, or have there been artists who take more hostile approaches?

To be honest it hardly ever happens. I’ve never had any hostility or even anything direct.

4. What would your advice be to a younger generation of critics?

Make sure you are a journalist first and a critic second, and always make sure you are paid for your work.

5. Was there a moment or a film that made you decide to become a critic?

I was working at a women’s magazine, Minx, when I was asked to go to a screening of The Faculty. Not the greatest film ever, but lots of fun, and fun to write about. Sitting there, it struck me that this was my calling, rather than fashion or music. I couldn’t believe no-one else wanted to do the film reviews. That was that.

6. Where do you think film criticism is going as a business? What are the changes that are needed in the business to improve the standards in which we review films?

There’s poor film writing out there, but no shortage of good critics. It’s up to newspapers and broadcasters to continue to place value on quality film criticism – and for audiences to respond to them. Profit from print is dwindling, so it’s becoming increasingly difficult for some papers to justify the space for entertainment writing – and yet, it provides a valuable service. If you enjoy film criticism, tell our bosses! And universities and journalism courses need to continue to offer the right kind of training, which I believe many currently do.

7. What is a film that you always go back to for a rewatch?

Back To The Future. Where we’re going…

 

Anna Smith writes for Time Out, Sky, BBC, Metro, and The Guardian and lives in London. You can find her on twitter @annasmithjourno and check out her website here.

If you’d like to be part of our series or want to suggest a critic you’d like us to interview please contact Dilara Elbir on twitter or mail her at dilaraclemelbir@gmail.com

One Short A Day: Week Two

My introduction to David Lynch was, unfortunately, at a very young age. I was in elementary school and my mother came home with a VCD (the DVD’s precursor) of The Elephant Man. She thought it was a Chaplin-like black and white film about a man who is also an elephant, a fun film for an 8-year-old. Quickly into the film she realised this was not the case, but it was too late and I was too stubborn to admit I was scared. I had nightmares for days and to this day, I have not rewatched it.

But I came back to Lynch, many years later, during my freshman year of university, with Mulholland Drive. I had no idea what I was about to encounter, but I knew the moment the man started telling his dream at the cafe, that another nightmare filled sleep awaited me. After the film, I went online immediately, as I’m guessing many people do after seeing Mulholland Drive, searching for some explanations. What does it all mean? There were pages and pages of theories, each one making as much sense as the other. I went to sleep, confused and afraid of something I could not name. So I went back, again and again, first to Mulholland, then to his other films, to name what it was that made me feel so afraid, so anxious, and unable to move. I’ve wondered why that fear I felt after watching his films stayed with me longer than any other horror. Why the horrors that made me jump and scream left my mind very shortly, while the word “silencio” is still enough to make me shiver. Why can’t I still watch The Elephant Man, despite not remembering a single shot from the film?

Continue reading “One Short A Day: Week Two”

One Short A Day: Week One

For the first week of the One Short A Day challenge, upon the suggestion of many friends, I decided to watch shorts of Ukrainian-American experimental filmmaker Maya Deren. I find it quite hard to talk about them, but what I know is that after every film I watched, I wanted to watch it again. And at the end of the week, I wanted to watch them one after another at one go. There is so much written about Deren, her films, her influences, and I wanted to read as much as I could but decided against it since it’s against the purpose of this challenge, which is to write about these films right after I’ve seen them, on how I felt watching them and their immediate effect on me. It was hard, but that’s why it’s a challenge. Hope you enjoy!

Continue reading “One Short A Day: Week One”

Summer Challenge: One Short A Day

In case you couldn’t tell from the weather, summer is (almost) here! This summer, Much Ado is setting a challenge: One Short A Day. Starting from May 8th, I’ll watch one short film a day and will publish my thoughts on them every Tuesday. Films will be chosen randomly from your suggestions, films that are taught at film schools, films that won awards or went under the radar. My thoughts on the films will be one paragraph for each, written right after I watch them.

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If you want to join me in this challenge, you can alter it in any way that fits you. Tag your posts with #OneShortADay on Twitter and/or Letterboxd to share your challenge with us and give us your suggestions in comments or Twitter. You can also follow the challenge on Letterboxd here which I’ll update weekly.

Enjoy the challenge and happy summer holidays!

‘Avengers: Infinity War’ in Conversation

This past week has been an emotional rollercoaster for Marvel fans. 10 years, 19 films, and a lot of heroes have been leading us into Infinity War. Now that we’ve all seen, and grieved over the film, it’s time to talk about it. Much Ado writers talk about their favourite scenes, problems and most importantly, about Carrie Coon’s cameo, in conversation.

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Much Ado’s Top Five Films of Marvel Cinematic Universe

Ten years in the making and Infinity War is finally here! Blockbuster cinema is filled with milestones; Steven Spielberg’s Jaws invented summer blockbusters and years later MCU impacted the way we view and consume them. Previous generations remember seeing iconic shots from Terminator or Lord of the Rings films in cinemas, today’s generation will have The Avenger‘s circle shot. Whether you like MCU films or not, it would be ridiculous to deny that they’ve had huge cultural and cinematic influence for the past ten years. With Infınity War‘s arrival, it’s time to look back at past ten years and rank our top five!

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Continue reading “Much Ado’s Top Five Films of Marvel Cinematic Universe”