Hi, I’m Helen Kaplow, writing as HelenHighly
…highly suspect …highly sensitive …highly enthusiastic …highly educated …highly intoxicated? …highly likely.
I’m a little bit high — highly into Film, Art, Theater, TV, Music and all-things Culture.
I am well-educated but don’t think of myself as an academic. I am opinionated but don’t think of myself as a critic. I am sometimes a little bit high but don’t think of myself as a stoner. Here’s the deal:
I like colors. I like ideas. I like a beautiful sentence as well as a beautiful object. I like to be provoked. I like to be amazed.
I like to be touched without actually touching. I like to be knocked down and bloodied but walk out with my dress unwrinkled.
I like to laugh despite myself. I like to be stirred and shaken. I like to realize something new. I like to feel my heart beat. I like to feel that lump in my throat. I like to smile while I cry.
I like to piece it together in my head. I like the truth to be whispered in my ear. I like to leave wondering. I like to go home and Google it. I like to want to tell my friend.
I like to see something for the first time. I like to see it anew for the first time. I like to wish I could touch it.
I like to be taken on a trip. I like to surrender to the experience. I like to dream about it later. I like my passion to be enflamed.
I like to be uplifted and transported. I like the way art elevates the audience. When it’s good, art is its own high. Even when it’s bringing you low, it’s making you high. (Ya know what I mean?)
Are these “reviews” or what?
Given that choice, they are what. I like to call them essays. Or commentary. But I need to title them as reviews so that Google can find them. (Reality is reality.)
“Thumbs up, thumbs down” is not me. I work in full hands – all 10 fingers, and sometimes even toes. But for the record, I love film critic Anthony Lane (of the New Yorker). I stand in awe of him. Helen Highly appreciates his smart, tight writing – insightful, clever and concise, working the classic review format for all its worth.
In truth, Lane breaks with the standard just a little by usually writing a combo review of two films. And if not inspired by Lane in my occasional, dual-review posts, I feel at least validated by him. (See Carol vs Brooklyn or Janis Joplin vs Peggy Guggenheim) My friend scoffed at my approach, saying “That’s what students do in college – write compare-and-contrast papers.” Well, I have no problem with that “student” association, but FYI, You-Know-Who-You-Are: If Anthony Lane does it, it’s legitimate.
But, back to my point: The formal standard is just not me. And the world already has Anthony Lane (and many more of his ilk); you don’t need another one. I’ve got something different to offer. As someone pithy once said: “You might as well be yourself; everyone else is already taken.”
I’m going to report to you my experience. No pedantic judgments here. I’m not trying to prove how intelligent I am. (I concede in advance: You are smarter than I am, and more important too.) I’m just sharing. And I likely will share about films or art exhibits that you have not seen, and when you read my commentary, you will gain access to that experience, even if you don’t go yourself. I may ramble on for too long (my Tarantino Hateful Eight review), I may rant with bias (Carol again), and maybe my thoughts are loosely organized (my Carrie Fisher Star Wars commentary), but… I’m likely to offer a fresh perspective, and I might be more amusing than the straight reviews.
That being said, I earnestly invite you to respond to what I write. I am happy to hear your criticisms as well as your compliments. I am happy to answer your questions. And mostly, I am delighted to know that someone is reading; you do me a favor if you share your response with me, or with my other readers. You may email me directly, or you may post a comment. I love discussion. I get off on the back-and-forth. So don’t be shy:
Let’s get into it together.
Start by clicking one of the menus at the top of this page, to see my posts, and select one.
Yes, this site is new and not yet fully populated. I do not yet have postings in each category. But I have tons of notes I’ve written while exploring my newly adopted home of New York City. I will continue to write commentary on new things while I also backtrack and write about previous things. I am working as fast as I can under my circumstances.
I appreciate your patience and your interest. I suggest that you subscribe to this blog (on the side of the page, or at the bottom), and then you will be alerted when I post new commentary. (And I promise not to spam you or share your info.)
Hey readers: I don’t have time to review everything. So HelenHighly recommends you check out IndieNYC.com, which is a large and sophisticated film site, with multiple writers posting reviews and commentary (some of which I write).