“Nothing human is alien to me.”Terence
We value the human experience. The motion picture’s universal appeal allows us to better understand the world around us: its history, cultures and peoples, regardless of religion, race, or gender.
With this in mind, we never moralise nor apply a priori ideological criteria onto a film. We are firstly open and humble, adopting what they call the “aesthetic attitude”, ready to heed a film’s affect and assume it knows something that we do not.
We are first and foremost aestheticians, which is to say we derive pleasure from the exercise of sensibility and are seeking to translate our sensory impressions into words and discover significance through affect.
“The blazing lightbeam of the movie projector is our modern path of Apollonian transcendence.”Camille Paglia
Films that reek of propaganda, moralism, or totalitarianism do not fare well under this rubric. They are deceptive and pathological. In the words of Siegfried Kracauer: “From beneath the tumult of propaganda a skull appears.”
We do not value intellect over feeling, as so often the critical commentariat do. A so-called “smart” cinema often translates into paternalistic, classist, and totalitarian impulses that see the mass as something in need of moral correction or ideological engineering.
“Culture being a pursuit of our total perfection by means of getting to know, on all the matters which most concern us, the best which has been thought and said in the world, and, through this knowledge, turning a stream of fresh and free thought upon our stock notions and habits…”Matthew Arnold
Film art that thrills us, makes us laugh, cry, or squirm, nauseates and entices us, is of crucial human value, and a judgement in itself. To feel is to be human, to acknowledge the body, that which we all share.
We seek to promote the irrationality of film—its primal appeal. Art is pleasurable, sensual, intuitive, and thus we have no guilty pleasures.
“To burn always with this hard, gemlike flame, to maintain this ecstasy, is success in life.”Walter Pater
We shall never discriminate between arbitrary high and low art categorisations. We are not so prejudiced or reactionary as to dismiss, for example, the most popular collective artistic expression in the history of the world—Hollywood. We believe in art for the masses, for in art lies self-liberation.
The only discrimination we make is between a cinema of feeling and of pretence, between wisdom and ignorance. This is the sole difference between a human cinema and an inhuman one.
“The worse your art is, the easier it is to talk about.”John Ashberry
Just like cinema, we are not an ideological machine. We value what Keats called “Negative Capability” in the work—beautiful confusion—and do not attempt to engineer the reader in our image, or represent our ethical, puritanical, or intellectual superiority via our assessments.
We do not talk down to the reader. There is nothing elitist about trusting the reader’s intelligence and so we don’t “dumb-down” our writing or talk in a hyperbolic, click-bait fashion.
Nor do we attempt to impress with needless highfalutin language with no substance or ideas behind it, what Wittgenstein calls “Bewitchment of the intelligence by means of language.”
“The men in most repute were really the most foolish; and that others less esteemed were really closer to wisdom.”Socrates
We believe that cinema still maintains a radical potential to shock and transgress, to articulate in its sensuous language knowledge about the Self that we have repressed. Only it is dormant.
A cinema of what Walter Benjamin calls “shock”, which challenges our perception and allows us to see anew, helps to do this. We do not want our worldview reaffirmed. We seek new knowledge via the continual act of metamorphosis, undergone under the shadow of our ignorance.
We embrace transgressive art. Too often critics speak of “radical” cinema that is no more than middle-class, middle-brow, people-pleasing nonsense. We see transgression as something that can be discerned only in relation to your own individual position; we do not hypothesise an imaginary spectator or mass.
“Behind the aesthetic form lies the repressed harmony of sensuousness and reason—the eternal protest against the organisation of life by the logic of domination.”Herbert Marcuse
We attempt to reconcile sensuousness with intellect separated by our society. Thus we are receptive to the chaos and ambiguity of images; films that do not easily translate into the structures of words, logic, or digestible morality. It is a window into the unknown. But we must do our best to articulate and encapsulate the best of a medium that is more akin to dreaming.
Thus we are interested in the Telos of film: what truth it contains for us. There is nothing utilitarian about cinema—it’s the art of scoundrels—but it remains absolutely essential, speaking to our irrational inner spirit, and certainly no plaything for the chattering classes.