Film is considered to have its own language. James Monaco wrote a classic text on film theory titled "How to Read a Film". Director Ingmar Bergman famously said, "[Andrei] Tarkovsky for me is the greatest [director], the one who invented a new language, true to the nature of film, as it captures life as a reflection, life as a dream." Examples of the language are a sequence of back and forth images of one actor's left profile speaking, followed by another actor’s right profile speaking, then a repetition of this, which is a language understood by the audience to indicate a conversation. Another example is zooming in on the forehead of an actor with an expression of silent reflection, then changing to a scene of a younger actor who vaguely resembles the first actor, indicating the first actor is having a memory of their own past.
Main article: Montage
Parallels to musical counterpoint have been developed into a theory of montage, extended from the complex superimposition of images in early silent film to even more complex incorporation of musical counterpoint together with visual counterpoint through mise en scene and editing, as in a ballet or opera; e.g., as illustrated in the gang fight scene of director Francis Ford Coppola’s film, Rumble Fish.
Main article: Film criticism
Film criticism is the analysis and evaluation of films. In general, these works can be divided into two categories: academic criticism by film scholars and journalistic film criticism that appears regularly in newspapers and other media.
Film critics working for newspapers, magazines, and broadcast media mainly review new releases. Normally they only see any given film once and have only a day or two to formulate opinions. Despite this, critics have an important impact on films, especially those of certain genres. Mass marketed action, horror, and comedy films tend not to be greatly affected by a critic's overall judgment of a film. The plot summary and description of a film that makes up the majority of any film review can still have an important impact on whether people decide to see a film. For prestige films such as most dramas, the influence of reviews is extremely important. Poor reviews will often doom a film to obscurity and financial loss.
The impact of a reviewer on a given film's box office performance is a matter of debate. Some claim that movie marketing is now so intense and well financed that reviewers cannot make an impact against it. However, the cataclysmic failure of some heavily promoted movies which were harshly reviewed, as well as the unexpected success of critically praised independent movies indicates that extreme critical reactions can have considerable influence. Others note that positive film reviews have been shown to spark interest in little-known films. Conversely, there have been several films in which film companies have so little confidence that they refuse to give reviewers an advanced viewing to avoid widespread panning of the film. However, this usually backfires as reviewers are wise to the tactic and warn the public that the film may not be worth seeing and the films often do poorly as a result.
It is argued that journalist film critics should only be known as film reviewers, and true film critics are those who take a more academic approach to films. This line of work is more often known as film theory or film studies. These film critics attempt to come to understand how film and filming techniques work, and what effect they have on people. Rather than having their works published in newspapers or appear on television, their articles are published in scholarly journals, or sometimes in up-market magazines. They also tend to be affiliated with colleges or universities.
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