POSTED March 10 2012

The Many Deaths and Nine Lives of Movie Criticism

Like the movies themselves, criticism has moved from analog to digital, a move that is not universally beloved. Reports of the death of criticism are greatly exaggerated. Countless times during my career criticism has been declared dead only to pop up its furry groundhog head to say, “I’m back!”

Here’s a piece I wrote for Variety that takes the temperature, blood pressure and checks other vital signs of criticism. I called diagnosticians such as Roger Ebert, Jeanine Basinger and Jim Hoberman for second, third and fourth opinions.

Thoughts? Where do you go for criticism?

 


16 comments

  1. My situation apears to be different from most of those you quote because most of my freelance outlets since I retired from the Chicago Reader have been European, often financed by state arts budgets, and in fact I’ve done almost as well with this as I did with a salary–or even better when I supplemented this with a teaching income. If you have something meaningful to say to non-Americans, the situation is much more hopeful.

  2. Lordias Fucknap says:

    “Thoughts? Where do you go for criticism?”

    A website that don’t oblige me to regista, merely to read uno article ;)

  3. movieirv says:

    Sorry, Carrie. I’d love to read the article, but I don;t subscribe and it is blacked out.

  4. Horse Badorties says:

    I am down to Ebert and Roeper, A.O. Scott, sometmes,the Variety critic of the week, cause they are all pretty good. But no one has any juice anymore..Steven Hunter used to get it when he was a Washpost film critic,but he’s gone..Hoberman for years when I read the Voice….and of course, Carrie Rickey. Is anyone breaking new ground in this business? Dunno.

  5. admin says:

    Lordias and Movieirv: I believe I’ve fixed the firewall blockage.

  6. Danny says:

    The issue with criticism now isn’t whether it’s dead or dying– it’s certainly thriving, as cinephiles around the world begin to throw their ideas in– but now it’s about trying to find a way for a cognizent, respectable voice to rise above the din.

    Currently, popular criticism online can be in the form of good writing, but just as often rely on gimmicks to hide the fact that the writer isn’t well informed. Popular sites can pick out people who can get hits rather than entertain or inform.

    It’s not a terrible time to be in, it’ll just be interesting to see where things go next. I think the further leveling of the internet’s playing field will give people plenty of ways to make their own choices and discover people to follow rather than having aggregators simply offer them pre-approved selections. But I guess we’ll see about that.

  7. wwolfe says:

    The analogy to critics being involved in a (as in, one single) conversation in the lobby isn’t quite accurate. Scattering critics to the web, from large newspapers, is like breaking up one big-screen theater into a half-dozen small screens: there are indeed conversations in the lobby, but the people from the Theater #1 don’t know what the people from Theater #6 are talking about. As with popular music and TV, an increase in choices leads to a decrease in common experience. Whether that’s better or worse, or just different (or a little of each), it affects how we find movies, and how we talk about the ones we love.

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