The Future of Film Criticism

8 Apr

With the death of Roger Ebert many have been speculating about the future of film criticism.  The professional film critic watches every good or bad new released film at the Cineplex or film festival. They watch on average about 20 films a week. Basically, they see a lot of crap so consumers don’t have too. Yet, today the casual movie going audience or cinephile are skeptics, don’t share the same values or taste of film critics and are quite vocal about it on blog sites. So what does the future hold for film criticism? 

Very quickly let me define “the casual moviegoer” versus a “cinephile.” A casual moviegoer is someone who watches any new release at the Cineplex. A cinephile on the other hand will watch (be it old or new) any “good” film circulated by word of mouth.

So why are film critics not connecting with consumers? Many believe film critics over exaggerate when they see an average film because they see so much crap. Also, film critics fail to describe what made the film so good in the first place, instead they are more concerned with telling consumers what to or not consume. Here’s a statement from a cinephile forum on why casual moviegoers and cinephiles might be resistant to film critics.

Jirin

Any attempt by a critic to tell people why to like something will result in the opposite reaction. If a critic wants to turn somebody on to great cinema, they’re best off explaining why they think it worked and helping people decide if they want to see it.”[1]

What do you think about the future of film criticism? Do you have a favorite film critic? Do you rely on word of mouth?

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55 Responses to “The Future of Film Criticism”

  1. littlebells April 8, 2013 at 1:18 PM #

    I’m glad we are discussing this. I like to think of myself as a cinefile because I am very picky/choosy about the films I watch.

    I agree with the comment about being told what to like or not like. I enjoy simplyfilm’s website because they give fantastic reviews as far as what worked and what didn’t in a film. I have actually watched several of their films because of their honest and non-threatening nature. I like to decide for myself if I am going to like a film or not. 🙂

    • Open Book April 8, 2013 at 7:27 PM #

      “I agree with the comment about being told what to like or not like.”

      Your complaint is shared by many others. Tell me though when a film critic overhypes a film does it turn u off and makes u not want to see the film?

      • littlebells April 8, 2013 at 7:59 PM #

        Yeas. Even though I am guilty of dpi g this myself. Haha!

        • littlebells April 8, 2013 at 7:59 PM #

          Doing

        • Open Book April 9, 2013 at 7:02 PM #

          Hmm! So am I. However, do u expect more from a professional critic?

          • littlebells April 9, 2013 at 7:05 PM #

            Yes because I expect more knowledge of how the entire production of a film is handled.

            • Open Book April 9, 2013 at 7:16 PM #

              Do u like watching the Bonus features on a DVD. If so what do u like best? The Director commentary or actors etc..? Do u think this is more informative than film critic reviews?

              • parisienne April 9, 2013 at 7:21 PM #

                YES! I LOVE DOING THAT! It gives me a greater appreciation for the final product.

                • Open Book April 9, 2013 at 7:26 PM #

                  Haha! Me too. What’s the best commentary you’ve seen recently?

                  • parisienne April 9, 2013 at 7:33 PM #

                    i’ve been listening to the les mis commentary

                    • Open Book April 9, 2013 at 7:39 PM #

                      What makes it so interesting?

                    • littlebells April 9, 2013 at 7:51 PM #

                      I haven’t watched it yet! I did buy the movie so I will have to get on it!

                    • Open Book April 9, 2013 at 7:56 PM #

                      I watched a great commentary last night by Antoine Fuqua from the film “Brooklyn’s Finest.” I was really impressed by his determination to give back to inner city neighborhoods.

              • littlebells April 9, 2013 at 7:26 PM #

                yes, I do. Particularly the director/lead cast commentary. But only if they take it seriously, with some humor. I like to know what an actor was thinking at a certain point in the film. What was their motivation? What did the director want from this particular scene? I like knowing those aspects and it makes me more appreciative.

    • Open Book April 8, 2013 at 7:31 PM #

      LB- Do u have a link to the site u mentioned u liked?

      • littlebells April 8, 2013 at 8:00 PM #

        Yes and I meant to give that earlier. I also have it linked on the PTTS site.

        http://Www.simplyfilm.org

        • Comic Relief April 9, 2013 at 8:44 AM #

          LB,

          You’ve maintained an open call to the entire film community (including film fans, film producers, authors, and screen writers) to participate in an open dialogue regarding the backbone of most films: screen writing or novels that will likely be adapted for film.

          Given your critical endeavor I think it’s highly unusual that you, in anyway, find critics intimidating. Given your experience in this community, how do you believe passionate observers can make the film community a far more transparent, engaging or welcoming environment for curious consumers?

          Or did I misunderstand something you said?

          • littlebells April 9, 2013 at 10:23 AM #

            CR,

            Sorry I didn’t write things more clearly. I’m not intimidated by film critics. I honestly don’t pay much attention to most of them because I feel genuine criticism of a film has become a lost art. I also think my “waste of time”, “this is stupid”, and “wow, that looks like it could be terrific” intuition has improved over the years. hahaha! I just don’t like the pushy, shovy opinions of critics that sit on either side of the spectrum. I liked unbiased views. Does that make more sense?

            • Open Book April 9, 2013 at 7:08 PM #

              I know u were responding to CR. However, ITA. film criticism has become a lost art. No longer does a review discuss the style, history etc. I think if more reviews were about that aspect the more objective they would be.

              I do like the simplyfilm.org film review site.

              • littlebells April 9, 2013 at 7:22 PM #

                Yes, there isn’t much discussion about the story/plot/themes of a film. I find that when I do read reviews that do as such, I am much more inclined to check out a film.

                • Open Book April 9, 2013 at 7:33 PM #

                  So in other words its more authentic. Which one is more important to u in a review good writing or film history knowledge?

                  • littlebells April 9, 2013 at 7:44 PM #

                    film history knowledge. I can handle so so writing, but I find those that have great knowledge don’t have to worry about good writing. It comes naturally. At least those who seem to be passionate about it.

                    What about you?

                    • Open Book April 9, 2013 at 7:49 PM #

                      I love to read passionate and curious reviews. They are contagious. I believe if u are passionate and curious all the other stuff will be a piece of cake.

  2. littlebells April 8, 2013 at 1:19 PM #

    What are the criteria for being a “professional” film critic?

    • Open Book April 8, 2013 at 7:17 PM #

      Good writing skills and film history knowledge is key. But here is a great quote and article from Cineaste magazine on what criteria is needed for becoming a professional film critic. Here’s the link to read the article in its entirety. http://www.cineaste.com/articles/film-criticism-the-next-generation

      “the vast majority of our respondents are freelancers who supplement their writing with teaching or programming gigs…….”

  3. Comic Relief April 9, 2013 at 8:01 AM #

    Thanks for the great article OB.

  4. Comic Relief April 9, 2013 at 8:01 AM #

    Not that I think it would make or break their criticism; but I think it would help if more critics made films.

    Many of the challenges in casting, producing, story development, and promotion are completely unknown to film goers and this impacts film evaluation in unimaginable ways. The filmmaker or participant in the process, should have many routes to help us better understand the process and the stakes involved.

    The quality of the end product doesn’t always reveal what values are being accomplished or disseminated.

    • Open Book April 9, 2013 at 7:12 PM #

      CR-U are wonderful. However, if more film critics made films then there would be less venomous snark fest reviews. Plus I believe its nice to have someone slightly removed to allow for greater objectivity.

  5. Open Book April 9, 2013 at 7:00 PM #

    Hi Everyone!

    • littlebells April 9, 2013 at 7:02 PM #

      Hi OB!

      How are you? I may have to leave early, just wanted to give you a heads up.

      • Open Book April 9, 2013 at 7:09 PM #

        Hi LB!

        No problem. I’m good. Nice and sunny here today. Want to go swimming. Hmmm! How are u?

  6. parisienne April 9, 2013 at 7:11 PM #

    hey everyone!

    just popped in for a bit.

    • Open Book April 9, 2013 at 7:13 PM #

      Hi Paris.

      How are u?

      Do u have a favorite film critic or film review site?

  7. parisienne April 9, 2013 at 7:18 PM #

    No I don’t. I rely a lot on word of mouth. That’s how I found Twilight. IA though I hate being told what and who I should like. I feel sometimes that crictics are paid, not necessarily monetarily but with deals like “we’ll make sure you’re well known if you say such and such about a film.

    What is a professional critic anyway? All they do is give their opinions.

    • Open Book April 9, 2013 at 7:24 PM #

      Hahahaha! U are so on point. Yes, word of mouth is the only thing I trust now. So where do u go to here the word?

      • parisienne April 9, 2013 at 7:25 PM #

        i ask “has anyone seen any good movies lately?”

        • littlebells April 9, 2013 at 7:29 PM #

          Hi paris!

          I rely on word of mouth too. That’s how I discoved Black Swan.

        • Open Book April 9, 2013 at 7:29 PM #

          Where? At work, the gym, gas station, grocery store etc?

          • parisienne April 9, 2013 at 7:38 PM #

            work. when i found out about twilight the convo went like this:

            Me: Has anyone seen any good movie lately? I’m bored.
            Friend: Do you like vampire movies?
            Me:Yes
            Friend:Do you like love stories?
            Me: Yes
            Friend: Then go see Twilight. Its a young adult movie about vampires and a regular girl.
            Me: I’ve got nothing better to do. I’ll check it out. Thanks!

            I hated the film but devoured the books. That’s how my Twilight journey began.

            • Open Book April 9, 2013 at 7:42 PM #

              LOL! So I guess u no longer ask at work?

  8. Open Book April 9, 2013 at 7:20 PM #

    Ozzie- Are film critics or film criticism highly regarded in the UK?

    • ozzie20 April 10, 2013 at 8:02 PM #

      Hmmm, I’m not sure! I go on word of mouth and adverts to find new movies so I’m not that familiar with critics here, lol! Jonathon Ross (his wife is a screen play writer. She wrote Stardust and Kickass. So he’s a big film junkie!) used to do a 10 minute weekly show that just focused on his reviews, I think it’s presented by Claudia Winkleman now. Anyway, that show is popular. Then there’s a culture show (the presenters name is on the tip of my tongue but won’t come out lol!) which talks about politics art, movies, sometime music but it’s quite high brow so I’m not sure how well it goes down. The broadsheet newspapers tend to have ok to good reviews and of course the quality gets worse the further down the gossip train of papers it goes. I think most tend to go by word of mouth and adverts. I can only think of those two shows their presenters that are well known!

  9. littlebells April 9, 2013 at 7:32 PM #

    What made Siskel & Ebert so great with audiences?

    • Open Book April 9, 2013 at 7:37 PM #

      Great Q: In particular I would say Rogert Ebert’s empathy in his writing for making film history accessible to audiences. They were funny and passionate about their love of films.

      • littlebells April 9, 2013 at 8:04 PM #

        Yep! I also enjoyed their respectful banter.

  10. parisienne April 9, 2013 at 7:39 PM #

    Everyone I have to go! I’ll stop by later if i can!

    • Open Book April 9, 2013 at 7:41 PM #

      Goodbye Paris,

      Thanks for coming.

  11. Open Book April 9, 2013 at 7:52 PM #

    Do u prefer reading film reviews or watching them on YouTube?

  12. Open Book April 9, 2013 at 8:07 PM #

    I like this interview because it focuses on the actor and director.

  13. littlebells April 9, 2013 at 8:22 PM #

    OB,

    I need to go for the evening, but thank you for a great discussion! I will be back because I think this is a very good topic. 🙂

    • Open Book April 9, 2013 at 8:24 PM #

      Goodbye LB!

      Thanks for coming it was fun.

  14. Open Book April 9, 2013 at 8:37 PM #

    I’m going say goodnight as well. Thanks for coming!

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