Friday, February 15, 2008

Have Movie Critics Become Irrelevant?

Now that anyone and everyone with an internet connection can be a movie critic, what is the point of professional reviewers? Do we really need someone's professional opinion on NATIONAL TREASURE? Do I really need to read a professional's top-ten-list, which invariably amounts to a re-ordering of THERE WILL BE BLOOD, SAVAGES, NO COUNTRY FOR OLD MEN and JUNO, among the other anointed?

But skimming a top ten list in the Wall Street Journal, I came across this paragraph.

"Including a documentary that almost no one has seen may seem like an affectation, but my hope is to get you to see "Manufactured Landscapes," not to impress you with the fashionable obscurity of my taste. Discovering Jennifer Baichwal's film at the New Zealand Film Festival earlier this year -- it also played briefly in this country -- was a perception-changing experience. Inspired by the work of the Canadian photographer Edward Burtynsky, "Manufactured Landscapes" starts with an eight-minute tracking shot down one aisle of a Chinese factory the size of a small town. Then it follows Mr. Burtynsky on a tour of industrial Asia in order to show -- without polemics -- the scale of man's activities, and the impact they're having on our planet. I thought I had some sense of that impact until I saw this astonishing doc."

What startled me about that paragraph is that the reviewer, Joe Morgenstern, felt the need to apologize for doing his job. It seems to me that when the internet is flooded with amateur reviews, the only legitimate function of the critic, who travels around the world to film festivals and who does nothing else but watch movies, is to find obscure and under-promoted cinema and bring it to the public's attention. I haven't seen MANUFACTURED LANDSCAPES, but I will now.

By extension, I hope that the Filmmakers Alliance posting board and blog give us a forum not only to discuss our all time favorites, but to share those obscure and under-promoted titles that we would otherwise never come across. As filmmakers we can discuss what our own movies could be in the context of these strange little movies that continue to inspire us.

As for the old fashioned newspaper critics and new fangled bloggers who snark and snipe about the next Batman movie, they're only waisting our time.

- sbh

P.S. Not that there's anything wrong with Batman. The trailer looks way cool, although Heath Ledger looks eerily like Brandon Lee in The Crow.

1 comment:

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