Having some time off recently has given me some extra time to catch up on/ find new content across the various forms of media.
A thought I had is that the more artsy something is the harder it can be to really tell if it is any good or not. Doubly so if you are reading reviews online about how great it is.
For example it is a lot less immediately clear what to think about the new Wilderun album - Epigone. It isn't the type of music where it is straightforward enough to discern over a few listens. I get the impression as I listen to it more closely and pickup on some of the fine details I will find it pretty solid. I certainly think they are making a concious artistic choice over Veil of Imagination add more soundscapes and meandering and avoid too many catchy hooks. Whether it is something I keep coming back to long term...who knows.
I do wonder though - if I had read the opinions online and they tended towards saying it was a disappointing followup, would it influence me to think the same thing and not give it an extra 10 listens?
This happened to me recently with the Netflix live action version of Cowboy Bebop. I thought it was a great show until I saw that it had been cancelled after one season and the online reaction to this. It pointed out a lot of flaws which changed the way I am viewing some of the later eposoides.
Recently I have watched the Wes Anderson movies The French Dispatch, Isle of Dogs and The Royal Tenenbaums. The Grand Budapest Hotel is one of my favourite movies so it is really past time that I explored the rest of his catalog. The Royal Tenenbaums is interesting in that on a surface level viewing it could be viewed as weird or a lot of film about nothing. I am a fan of the Anderson style and a fan of movies that breakdown the traditional narrative structure and don't nesecarily tie everything everything up nicely or even progress strongly towards a goal. Journey before destination as the Knights Radiant would say. Same with the quirky and whimiscal aspects. But because of this it is much harder to critique, there is a narrow line between masterpiece and weird film student effort in a way you just don't see in the latest big budget marvel effort.
The French Dispatch takes this even further. I see opinions online for the movie that don't like that lack of character development or say the use of stage sets. I think it brings something interesting to cinema though, certainly not ever film needs to be striving for realism, let's experiment with what can be done in the medium if we accept that what we are seeing isn't trying to be believable.
In the end, does it matter? We watch something we enjoy it (or we don't) and maybe one day we watch it again (or we don't). Maybe we are overthinking it (or is that part of the fun?).