Meet Ashley Roohizadegan

My relationship with film is characterised by a mixture of my personal philosophy, educational background and the passion I have had for the art form ever since becoming infatuated with Star Wars at an early age.

I founded this website in July 2022 with the intention of disseminating my thoughts on the latest films, whilst also offering a platform to like-minded critics to voice their opinions. Any review bearing my name comes from a position of sincerity and a vision to contribute to the polemics on what makes a film “great”.

Brief Educational Journey

Having lived the majority of my life in Victoria, Australia, I undertook the entirety of my undergraduate education at two Victorian institutions: Monash University and The University of Melbourne.

It was during my first year at Monash that I ultimately decided I wanted to do something in film. In the weeks leading up to a Physics exam, I decided to unwind by watching a new Studio Ghibli film: Hiromasa Yonebayashi’s When Marnie Was There. This film stirred such emotions in me that few films have; I was drawn into its visuals, mesmerized by the relatability of the protagonist and taken aback by just how pure, poetic and uplifting it was. From that point on, I knew that I had to make film the sole focus of my tertiary education.

After completing my Bachelor of Arts at Monash University, majoring in Film and Screen Studies, I pursued my Honours year at the University of Melbourne. My thesis, titled Animation and Emotion: The Global Appeal of Studio Ghibli, was concerned with positioning Ghibli as an animation studio that transcends the cultural specificity of anime, highlighting the various parallels that can be made between Ghibli and Disney’s creative output during its Renaissance period.

After completing my Honours year, I travelled to the UK to pursue an MPhil in Film and Screen Studies at the University of Cambridge. This gave me an opportunity to delve more deeply into the study of film emotion. For my Cambridge thesis, I sought to determine whether the prevailing ideology of a film can hinder the viewer’s ability to invest themselves in and identify with characters. The work I conducted in Cambridge helped expand and solidify my personal philosophy of film.

Brief Philosophy of Film

My “philosophy of film” is a list of tenets that characterize the expectations I set for films, and the way I assess them. Note that by “film”, I am not referring to documentaries.

  1. A film needs to lead to the betterment of the film viewer.
  2. A film should avoid being subversive for the sake of being subversive.
  3. To say that a film is “too sweet” or “too sentimental” is not a valid point of criticism.
  4. Identifying with a character on the basis of shared values will never be as strong as through empathy.
  5. A film cannot expect to receive praise if its political or social commentary gets in the way of good storytelling.
  6. Critiquing a film from the sole vantage point of cultural criticism is not good criticism.
  7. A film must ultimately respect its audience.

Ratings

While words are the most useful means of evaluating the quality of a film, ratings are convenient in that they help the reader determine the extent to which a film’s faults (as pointed out by the critic) affect the overall product. Not all critics write with the same vigour, so it can be easy to mistake a greater use of emotive language with a stronger reaction to the film. The inclusion of ratings helps ground the review in a universally understood method of assessment.

You can find the rating I assigned to a film at the end of the review.