These are interesting times if you’ve ever considered yourself a film critic, professionally or as a casual pursuit. It’s true whether you’re a longtime print critic disavowing online as Richard Schickel did, or if you consider Variety’s recent firing of its staff critics in place of purely using freelancers.
A Hyperbole in Film Criticism panel took place over the weekend to discuss the implications of the critic not just in a cultural role, but also in the essential relevance of the profession.
The problem surrounding hyperbole arose when Baumgarten answered what she disliked in a critic:
“It has to be an informed enthusiasm and well written,” Rochi said.
That led to a discussion that flew from brevity of attention spans (Yamato: “Readers want to read less in general”) to junkets (Weinberg: “I felt like a whore. I did a junket for “Zombieland” … what if I find this movie is a piece of crap?”) to critics’ blurbs on film ads.
“One of the problems this really boils down to is, I didn’t call myself a film critic for years,” said Weinberg. “I always thought people just respected my opinion and reading my stuff. For six years I worked for free at a site because I wanted to get better … [w]hen I see a guy who doesn’t even put a pen to paper considered an authority on what you should see this weekend, it infuriates me.”