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Matt Erspamer

Matt Erspamer is a graduate of Central Michigan University with a degree in Online Journalism and minors in Cinema Studies and Political Science. Along with producing and writing for this page, he is a web producer at WXMI, a Tribune Company station in Grand Rapids, Mich. Follow him on Twitter.

favorite Movies

Mulholland Dr., Two or Three Things I Know About Her, Persona, Psycho, Do the Right Thing, Dazed & Confused, 2001: A Space Odyssey, Ran, Fat Girl, Dazed & Confused

Favorite Directors

David Lynch, Martin Scorsese, Jean-Luc Godard, Lars von Trier, Catherine Breillat

Favorite Performers

Meryl Streep, Daniel Day-Lewis, Tilda Swinton, Nicole Kidman, Cate Blanchett

Email: erspa1mt@gmail.com

Lukas Miller

Lukas Miller is a current senior at Michigan State University majoring in Creative Advertising. Lukas is currently the president of the MSU competitive advertising team and works as a content marketing manager at Nicholas Creative. Having written for MSU Telecasters, The Black Sheep, Spartan Edge and Target Corporation, Lukas has a wide range of writing and entertainment background—he will soon begin his copywriting career at Target. For more info or to see his work, visit his website: lukasmiller.com.

Favorite Movies

There Will Be Blood, Gangs of New York, The Departed, Children of Men, Beginners, Little Miss Sunshine, Wall-E, Taxi Driver, The Wrestler and American Beauty.

Favorite Directors

Stanley Kubrick, Martin Scorsese, Darren Aronofsky, Paul Thomas Andersen, Lars von Trier

Favorite Performers

Daniel Day-Lewis, Kate Winslet, Ewan McGregor, James Stewart, Javier Bardem

Email: lukasdmiller@gmail.com

Sam Tunningley

Sam Tunningley is a student at Central Michigan University majoring in online journalism with a minor in cinema studies. In addition to contributing to CyniCritics, he also writes for The Seventh Art’s blog Worth Viewing and is the Arts and Entertainment editor for Grand Central Magazine. Follow him on Twitter and Letterboxd.

Favorite Movies

Gummo, Playtime, Naked, The Innocents, Walkabout, Dead Ringers, The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, Bigger Than Life, Lessons of Darkness, Mulholland Dr., The Exterminating Angel, George Washington, The Red and the White, Make Way for Tomorrow, Withnail and I

Favorite Directors

David Lynch, Harmony Korine, Jacques Tati, Werner Herzog and Terrence Malick

Favorite Performers

Nicolas Cage, The Marx Brothers, Liv Ullmann and Laura Dern

E-mail: tunni1sj@cmich.edu



12 thoughts on “Writers

  1. Your dad was observing my room this week. The assignment he saw was how to compose a movie critique. My students are writing one currently on the movie Ivanhoe for class. He told me about the cite so I decided to check it out. I spent about an hour browsing it the other night.

  2. I applaud your candor. I think good critics describe their reaction to a film, account for it, and evoke it for others. If I completely agree with you it doesn’t make my assessment of your argument any less rigid than those I disagree with. I’ve seen too many arguments on the Internet where people take such pride in disagreeing. The true mark of using your critical faculties is being able to add to the discussion whether you agree or disagree with what’s being said. Sometimes it seems like rhetoric now has to be black and white. You must hate or like. It’s true that many Americans have an active suspicion and dislike of intellectuals. They ask, “what makes you an expert?” when they’re really asking, “what gives you the right to disagree with me?” What I believe is that all clear-minded people should remain two things throughout their lifetimes: curious and teachable. There are many things in your reviews that are worthy of discussion but I’m going to choose one aspect that strikes me the most — the examination of film. I believe examining a film is the most unnatural thing one can do. Studying, evaluating and qualifying things like cinematography, editing, composition, pacing, tone, etc, are unnatural because these tools should be imperceptible. If I’m watching a film for the first time and I find myself admiring the cinematography it speaks volumes more about the lacking in other areas than it does about the quality of the cinematography. Ideally, I should be so wrapped up in the story that those tools shouldn’t reveal themselves until the second or third viewing, or at least until after the film has completed and I’ve begun digesting it. I try to do what Pauline Kael said she did: Take everything you are, and all the films you’ve seen, into the theater. See the film, and decide if it changed you. The older you are and the more films you’ve seen, the more you take into the theater. I attempt to watch movies with an open mind. But when I despise the movie and it goes on to break box office records, I don’t care. I’ll hope however that everyone who paid for a ticket thought they had a good time, because it was their time and their money. Roger Ebert notes: “The opening grosses are a tribute to a marketing campaign, not to a movie no one had seen. If studios spend a ton of money on a film, scare away the competition, and open in 4,234 theaters before the Fourth of July, of course they do blockbuster business.” Money can justify anything.

    • Critical thinking is self-guided, self-disciplined thinking which attempts to reason at the highest level of quality in a fair-minded way. People who think critically consistently attempt to live rationally, reasonably, emphatically. They are keenly aware of the inherently flawed nature of human thinking when left unchecked. They strive to diminish the power of their egocentric and sociocentric tendencies. They use the intellectual tools that critical thinking offers — concepts and principles that enable them to analyze, assess and improve thinking. They work diligently to develop the intellectual virtues of intellectual integrity, intellectual humility, intellectual civility, intellectual empathy, intellectual sense of justice and confidence in reason. They realize that no matter how skilled they are as thinkers, they can always improve their reasoning abilities and they will at times fall prey to mistakes in reasoning, human irrationality, prejudices, biases, distortions, uncritically accepted social rules and taboos, self-interest, and vested interest. They strive to contribute to a more rational, civilized society. At the same time, they recognize the complexities often inherent in doing so. They avoid thinking simplistically about complicated issues and strive to appropriately consider the rights and needs of others. They recognize the complexities in developing as thinkers, and commit themselves to life-long practice toward self-improvement. They embody the Socratic principle: The unexamined life is not worth living, because they realize that many unexamined lives together result in an uncritical, unjust, dangerous world.

      Critical thinkers are by nature skeptical. They approach texts with the same skepticism and suspicion as they approach spoken remarks. Critical thinkers are active, not passive. They ask questions and analyze. They consciously apply tactics and strategies to uncover meaning or assure their understanding. Critical thinkers do not take an egotistical view of the world. They are open to new ideas and perspectives. They are willing to challenge their beliefs and investigate competing evidence.

      Critical thinking enables us to recognize a wide range of subjective analyses of otherwise objective data, and to evaluate how well each analysis might meet our needs. Facts may be facts, but how we interpret them may vary.

      By contrast, passive, non-critical thinkers take a simplistic view of the world. They see things in black and white, as either/or, rather than recognizing a variety of possible understanding. They see questions as yes or no with no subtleties. They fail to see linkages and complexities. They fail to recognize related elements.

      Non-critical thinkers take an egotistical view of the world. They take their facts as the only relevant ones. They take their own perspective as the only sensible one.

  3. You’re groupthinkers. Iriving Janis defined Groupthink as “A mode of thinking that people engage in when they are deeply involved in a cohesive in-group, when the members’ strivings for unanimity override their motivation to realistically appraise alternative courses of action.” The primary negative cost of groupthink is the loss of individual creativity, uniqueness, and independent thinking. You try to minimize conflict and reach a consensus decision without critical evaluation of alternative ideas or viewpoints. It is the mode of thinking that happens when the desire for harmony in a decision-making group overrides a realistic appraisal of alternatives. Group pressures towards consensus lead to concurrence-seeking tendencies. The first symptoms of groupthink, include illusion of invulnerability, collective rationalization, stereotypes of outgroups, self-censorship, mindguards, and belief in the inherent morality of the group. The second, typically identified as symptoms of defective decision-making, involve the incomplete survey of alternatives and objectives, poor information search, failure to appraise the risks of the preferred solution, and selective information processing. These combined forces result in extremely defective decision making performance by the group.

  4. Pingback: REVIEW: A Field in England | CyniCritics

  5. Does Cynicritics have an opinion on director, actor, writer Mike Binder, a Michigan native? I was really impressed with “The Upside of Anger” set in a wealthy Detroit suburb but filmed in the UK. What happens when a woman is suddenly left without a husband and comes to a snap conclusion about why he left her and their four lovely daughters and never tries to prove, or disprove, her ideas.

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