Film criticism has been practiced by Siskel and Ebert, and by Bevis and Butthead, but now phiosophers like Slavoj Zizek have taken on the role, in his film The Pervert's Guide to Ideology (2012).
Is it the purpose of philosophy to take the values of characters in a film as the concrete representations of the values of the entire culture?
This is like judging the culture in Isarel during the biblical era by the bible, in which people live to be 300, walk on water, and talk with flaming bushes.
In The Pervert's Guide to Ideology Zizek's more interesting point is that either complicity or rejection of the films somehow affects the behaviour of the viewers.
Zizek's stated view that we alternately identify with and reject the representations of the capitalist upper class is meaningless: it is stating the obvious spectrum of reactions of diverse people to diverse content.
It seems arbitrary that we should identify with the capitalist upper class in "Titanic" but abhor them in "They live".
Zizek's point that we are affected by films, even along lines that fall with our capitalist beliefs, would be interesting if supported by evidence.
For example: Plato criticised the affect of plays on people, he didn't take the plays as an incredibly accurate depiction of reality; au contraire, he said they were sensationalist junk.
Why doesn't Zizek interview people about their reactions to film and approval ratings, as that would be the evidence for his claims. In every single movie he says: this movie shows the upper class suppressing the lower class but its doubtful the main emotional reaction of the majority people are getting out of the theatre after watching mainstream films is one of capitalist revolt or complicity, even subconsciously.
Its more interesting to talk to people about it rather than take cultural producers as the authorities on on values.When I feel like psychoanalysing the mass consciousness, I will base it on what people actually do and say, not on what they are forced to consume because it is served on their plate by coroporate Hollywood.
The goal of philosophy is "to contribute to the flourishing of mankind." Cultural criticism of films is more like a descriptive than prescriptive and the reflects moral lethargy of relativist philosophers.
A lot of academia, which has forsaken teaching about reality, resorts to teaching us how to express our emotional reaction to things. In this I include most of the humanities besides history: psychology, sociology, anthropology, film studies and art theory. In an nutshell, this species of academia takes on as its task the analysis of culture: whether it is artistic and literary works, ancient ancient ceramics, paintings or photographs.
This kind of analysis projects meanings onto past works. However, this is acceptable when the artist is dead, but when the artist is alive, and perhaps has a different view. Can one legitimately say Tracy Emin in her works intends a revolt against mysoginy, if Tracy Emin disagrees?
Maybe she subconsciously meant this, you say, but does academia, really give you the right to be an authority to anayslse her subconscious, or does it merely give you an undeserved platform to spout your uninformed, emotional reaction?
Zizek is fond of taking the values of the entire culture and transposing them onto a filmmaker's artistic work, a disservice to the author of the film.
Art theory is more or less the same: just someone's opinion or reaction to what they have seen, not reflecting some eternal truth supported by evidence and facts, which necessarily have to be drawn from reality, not from someone's fiction.