All posts tagged: Film criticism

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PopSmarts: A Reputation For Difficulty

We who take it as a vocation to criticize the efforts of others must take great care to keep our own behavior above reproach. It is particularly bad form to take a fellow critic to task when he or she makes a judgment that seems eccentric or even outright mistaken. Judge not, lest ye be judged; because we all do it — oh, boy, do we ever — and what goes around comes around, and karma’s a bitch, and I would rather not have the razor-sharp critical mind of a Laura Miller or a Matt Zoller Seitz turned to the task of enumerating my failings, thankewverymuch. Which presented me with a bit of a dilemma recently while I was catching up on recent (-ish) films. I had occasion to watch the 2011 adaptation of John LeCarré’s thriller Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy. I was immensely impressed, so much so that I did something that I hardly ever do; I immediately rewatched it. Three times in the space of twelve hours, in fact. It’s a remarkable piece …

Wandering the Aisles, Vol. 3: A Steaming Pile of Grinch

Every holiday season, dozens of writers attempt to trivialize the holiday season through popular culture. Chestnuts like It’s a Wonderful Life, Miracle on 34th Street and A Christmas Story are stretched in order to say greater things about our society – statements like the spirit of giving in the face of economic adversity or the deep strain of melancholy that bubbles under everyone’s holiday season, regardless of how many friends and family members one has to rally round. No such messages can be shoehorned into the bloated, live-action adaptation of Dr. Seuss’ How the Grinch Stole Christmas, released unto an unsuspecting public ten Christmas seasons ago. But its twisted, restructured narrative and garish design not only makes it a prime exhibit of how not to celebrate the season on film, but also makes it an excellent flop to rediscover in the discount bins of your local supermarket. Theodor Giesel’s original tale of The Grinch is simple yet engaging: the perpetually grumpy antagonist attempts to rob the citizens of Whoville of their Christmas presents and decorations, …

No Concessions: What I Learned from “The Class” (and the panel)

On Tuesday, I read that I’m about to be extinct. I got the word from a chart published on Movie City News, which showed that there were 122 working film critics in the U.S…scratch that, 117, as the chart was revised. It’s been revised again, slightly upwards, and is a “work in progress”–but the progression can only be downwards. With print publications going the way of the covered wagon and online venues that actually pay snapping the purses shut, it wouldn’t surprise me if the number dipped below 100 by year’s end. Hell, by July. There’s no bailout or stimulus package on the way, or earmarks for film criticism, either. I’ve written movie reviews since grade school (first critique: The Return of the Pink Panther, 1974) but I’ve never come close to the making the grade on this chart. The most I’ve ever earned from film writing (mostly profiles and trend pieces, not reviews) was in the four figures, and I’ll be lucky to see that again. It must be said, of course, that salaries …