Tuesday, July 18, 2006

More on Movie Critics

A while back, I talked about how movie studios have started avoiding preview screenings for critics, thus presumably avoiding negative reviews before opening night. This sparked a comment from dave, wondering why movie critics and movie goers have such mis-aligned tastes. That is, why isn't there a market for a "regular Joe" critic who likes White Chicks and Underworld: Evolution, since the movie-going public seems to like these films?

Today, A.O. Scott, a critic for the NY Times, addresses this question in a column which highlights the difference between the critical response to "Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest" and that of the public, which launched it to the highest-grossing opening ever. (Even beating Aquaman.) Scott complains:
I must face a frequently — and not always politely — asked question: What is wrong with you people? I will, for now, suppress the impulse to turn the question on the moviegoing public, which persists in paying good money to see bad movies that I see free.
He then asks (and answers):
So why review them? Why not let the market do its work, let the audience have its fun and occupy ourselves with the arcana — the art — we critics ostensibly prefer? The obvious answer is that art, or at least the kind of pleasure, wonder and surprise we associate with art, often pops out of commerce, and we want to be around to celebrate when it does and to complain when it doesn’t.
But the original question still stands: why isn't there a market for a "regular guy" (or girl) film critic? Of course, you can peruse message boards and blogs, but shouldn't the New York Post (or someone similar) carve a niche with a critic with tastes similar to those of the average American? Let the New York Times have their haughty-taughty (is that a word?) film critic, and give the regular, subway-riding New Yorkers a film critic they can relate to? What am I missing? Why doesn't this happen?

5 Comments:

Anonymous dave said...

It's hoity-toity or highty-tighty (said in a most haughty-taughty way). I really can't figure this out. You could argue that the kind of people who disagree with the critics don't read (or trust) the papers, but that's not really plausible. When I ride the subway in DC or Boston, everyone reads those free papers (the Metro and the Express): it seems like a "masses" review would really be valued in a venue like that.

7/18/2006 4:49 PM  
Blogger John Thacker said...

Joe Bob Briggs used to do this. Might still do. He reviewed B-movies from the standpoint of what people want in a bad movie.

7/18/2006 6:09 PM  
Blogger Candy Minx said...

I agree that film critics should really review movies.

The thing is why can't there be a film critic that is also a "regular jane"? In many ways I felt that siskel and Ebert were like that.

I never eread movie reviews before I see amovie. i can tell by a combination of trailers, or actors or directors...or a brief gist of what a movie is trying to do and decide if I want to see it.

There is anational paper in Canda tha talways panned sci-fi movies. they even panned Bladerunner for gods sake(although a lot of reviewers panned it at the time)...and I always felt they should have a specific person who is INTO sci-fi to review that genre because film snobs are too out of it to knowa good sci-fi when they see one.

the court of public opinion excites me though. did you know Da Vinci Code out box officed The Passion...i find that intriquing.

I still to this day love many box office bombs. I think critics got them wrong and way laid a lot of fans and potential theatree goers.

i think maybe we are seeing a back lash. I wonder if because people can buy and rent dvds for fairly cheap...they are discovering movies that are okay now and and trying to see big movies in the theatrees again?

it is such a robbery when you rent a movie on dvd and then realize, oh my god this is fabulous, I wish I had seenm it on the big screen.

At least it is refreshing to know that people are going to see Pirates, which I really enjoyed! and thought it was really well done and funny.

Candy
http://gnosticminx.blogspot.com/

7/18/2006 6:55 PM  
Anonymous Eric said...

I think it's a problem of boredom. Movie critics may literally see almost every movie that is shown in their area. The general public doesn't. Therefore a critic will be less charmed with the 45th rendition of something when he's seen 43 of them. Meanwhile, the general public has only seen eight of them and thinks it's fine.

I think you would have to put strict time limits on how long your person could be a movie critic if you wanted to keep a "regular person" critic. This adds to the hassle for the paper.

7/18/2006 8:52 PM  
Anonymous dave said...

Eric makes an interesting point, but it may be testable. Do critics get more picky over the course of their tenure? Je ne sais pas. I agree that Siskel & Ebert filled this nitch to a degree.

7/19/2006 10:17 AM  

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