Sunday in Depth #7: Movie Critcs

Roger-Ebert[2].jpgCritiquing films is a real profession in which people make real livings and have real careers. But how has writing a personal opinion on a piece of art become a real profession and why do people even care about what these critics have to say. Personally I write reviews too in which I criticize films too and I read other critics’ reviews as well. But it is kind of a weird concept with a lot of ‘why’s, so I’ve compiled a list of three questions and then answered.

Why read or write movie reviews? I think writing and reading movie reviews comes from a place of wanting to have a (sometimes one-sided) discussion about art. And isn’t that what art is? A creative piece of work that inspires discussion and debate. So I actually think that this idea of reading and writing reviews comes from a place of appreciating art and having (or wanting to build on) one’s understanding of culture and creativity.

Are the critics always right? The obvious answer to this question is no. Obviously if you are one of the few people who appreciates 2008’s Disaster Movie, you are not wrong for thinking this particular film has something interesting and new, because it kind of does do some interesting things even if I personally don’t think they work well on a narrative level. Personally I really enjoyed the 2014 movie The Judge even though the critics gave it unfavorable reviews and called it cliche.

Why do critics’ and viewers’ opinions sometimes differ? If you look at the Tomatometer for a movie such as Mr. Turner which has a critics rating of 98% while an audience rating of 56%, it’s easy to see that there’s a difference. With this particular movie the movie may have been a little too arthouse for a general audience to enjoy, while movie fans who generally watch more movies could point out the nuanced performance. So it comes from a place of generally having seen more films and comparing each film to a host of others within the same genre.



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