The Velvet Café

A room for thoughts about movies

Are film critics to be trusted?

with 53 comments

Do you give any attention to what film critics say these days? Do you let them guide you to movies – or talk you out of watching them? Do their views and analyses influence your own perception of a movie?

If you’re following my blog you know that I still do pay at least a little bit of attention. There’s a certain British film critic that has a devoted follower in me (I’ve promised to stop talking so much about him so I’m not going to mention any name here.) But if you take away him, I’ve noted that the more I blog about movies and the more involved I get in the film fan community, the less do I care about the people who do this for business.

As an ex journalist I always used to be the one to defend my former colleagues when people are picking on media for various reasons. I’ve ran rants about our code of conduct, I’ve talked about how the media consumers are the ones who are guilty of consuming all the bad journalism and that it’s the market that is to blame, not the journalists. And over the years I’ve declared that much of the criticism is must myths and exaggerations.

When I did something questionable
Admittedly I’ve done something questionable myself back in the days, but I think it was more silly than harmful. This isn’t film related, but I’m going to share the story anyway. It’s a confession about how we used to handle the horoscope column.

I’m not a believer in horoscopes myself, but I’ve got the impression that there are some people who take those things pretty seriously. At the local newspaper were I worked we used to have a daily horoscopes with predictions and advice for people depending on what sign they were born in. The problem was that we inherited those horoscopes from another, bigger newspaper. We re-used their press plates. In best case the horoscopes were used with one day’s delay. But more often than not we tossed all the incoming horoscopes in a random pile and picked just anyone. The horoscope we ended up using could concern a day two weeks ago or a month into the future. But so what? We didn’t expect them to be anything but lies in the first place. I admit it: It was a fraud, although a minor one. However I’m sorry if I deceived you. It won’t happen again.

But apart from that, I’ve been a fierce defender of journalists until recently. However – right or wrong – since I went more serious with my cinephilia last year, I’ve felt a growing suspicion: Isn’t there an awful lot of back-patting going on in this world? Are film critics really able to be completely independent of peer pressure and trends? Can they afford not to take into consideration their relationship with actors and directors they want to get easy access to in the future? The thoughts have been nagging me.

When my trust got a blow
Recently my trust for film critics got a more severe blow when a fellow blogger from Sweden told me a true story. The blogger in question attends a lot of press screenings and she told me about how she’d gone to a screening of a critically acclaimed movie – I think it was The Tree of Life, if I remember it correctly. At the same screening was one of the leading film critics in Sweden and she observed him sleeping through the entire movie. He even snored, so there was no mistake about it. But that didn’t stop him from giving the film a glowing, enthusiastic review afterwards. She doesn’t trust a word of what he says anymore and neither do I. God knows what he bases his reviews on, but it’s obviously not on what he has watched with his own eyes.

So what’s your view? Is it right or wrong to be suspicouls towards film critics as a collective? Was that guy just the one rotten apple and I shouldn’t judge everyone else because of him? Or is there indeed something rotten in this state? Would I do better staying as far away as possible from the opinions of others, relying on my own judgment, or on the advice from a few trusted, guaranteedly independent bloggers?

Have you ever seen someone falling asleep in a press-screening, still writing a review, pretending that nothing had happened?

Feel free to share your thoughts and experiences over a drink of your choice! And have a wonderful weekend!


Written by Jessica

March 16, 2012 at 5:00 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

53 Responses

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  1. I used to focus a lot more on critics’ reviews, but now I just read certain ones that are strong writers and spend a lot more time reading blogs. I’ll admit that I am swayed by critical consensus in terms of picking a film, but I don’t regard any particular critic’s word as “gospel”. I feel like you have to look at each critic individually in terms of their approach and interests. There are definitely some who seem more like industry insiders and don’t focus on the art of the movies.

    I graduated with a journalism degree 14 years ago, so I’m also a big defender when people attack the press as an entity. I’ll admit that there are figures like the guy you mentioned who aren’t legitimate or reliable and it may be more prevalent now. However, there still are critics like Roger Ebert, Michael Phillips, AO Scott, and more intellectual writers from magazines like Film Comment and Film Quarterly (plus a lot more) that deserve our attention.

    Interesting post!

    Dan Heaton

    March 16, 2012 at 5:25 pm

    • Thanks Dan! I guess the more we write ourselves, the less time do we have to spend reading the writings of others. In the choice between seeing what other bloggers – who I can communicate with directly, by tweets, comments, cross-linking, chats, forums, podcasts – you name it – and critics who haven’t heard of me and don’t give a crap about my views, it’s more fun and interesting to get that interaction. At’s least that’s how it is to me. I do read Ebert from quite a bit, I listen to Philips when he’s on Filmspotting, but most of the reviews I read these days are written by amateurs. For good and for bad I guess. There are pros out there who probably deserve more of my attention than they get.


      March 18, 2012 at 12:36 pm

  2. I’ve never taken other critics opinions that seriously. For me it’s generally been an opportunity to hear about films I hadn’t heard of so that I can consider watching them or else seeking collected critical opinion (through something like rottentomatoes) that I can skip a film that my own instincts tell me I want to skip. I only have time for a certain amount of films so critics play a decent role in helping me narrow the whole of film releases into those I will watch. But in terms of what I think about the film they are essentially irrelevant, which I think my views’ erratic relationship to consensus shows. The only real exception is for movies where I’m a bit unclear on how I feel and I need some other people’s thoughts to hopefully cause my own to be jogged.

    As to whether film critics can be trusted in a broader sense? Well, I don’t trust civility or high average ratings. That’s what’s so great about the reviewer who shall remain unnamed; he can be nasty to films which does a bit to show he’s not just a lackey of the industry. And you know I love your reviews but that you tend to rate most films 4/5 can water down the strength of the recommendation that would be implied by that rating to some degree. Still, as a non-professional reviewer, I know that this is because you enjoy cinema and not because you are soft on them to curry favor with the industry with which you share a symbiotic relationship.


    March 16, 2012 at 5:34 pm

    • Hehe, yeah my grades don’t give much of a guidance, do they? 😉 I’m soft hearted. Or I just love movies too much. Pretty useless as consumer information. But that’s not my main incentive for writing in the first place. I’m not trying to guide anyone. It’s more about making up my own mind and helping myself to remember the movies better afterwards. To try to give them something to hold on to in my memory.


      March 18, 2012 at 12:39 pm

  3. I don’t have any one film critic I listen to unequivocally. Really, I don’t tend to read much criticism BEFORE seeing movies at all. I’ll kind of skip-read a bit and get a general sense of the critical consensus sometimes, but I prefer seeing movies without having anyone else’s words in my head first. There are critics I read on and off (like the ones Dan mention) more because I like their writing than because I’m hanging on their opinions. I often tend not to agree with Ebert, and I often do agree with Scott, but I read them because I find that they make me think about films differently, or simply entertain me.

    Generally, when it comes down to it, I prefer to read in-depth criticism that assumes you’ve seen a movie, or posts about more obscure films that turn me on to something I didn’t know about. I almost never read any reviews of major new releases, at least not for the purpose of deciding whether I want to see it. No offense to people who write those reviews, and I do it myself from time to time, but for my own reading time, I tend to find straight-up “should you see this” new release reviews to be the most boring form of film criticism. Not to brown-nose, but that’s one reason I DO read your reviews, Jessica – you put so much of your own personality into your writing that it’s always entertaining, regardless of the movie at hand.


    March 16, 2012 at 5:39 pm

    • Ugh. WordPress forced me to sign into to comment this time. I don’t know why; it never has before, that I can recall. That’s not my real blog, though. Any of them. 🙂 I WANTED to link my name to this time. Just for the record.


      March 16, 2012 at 5:40 pm

      • And…that time it let me use my real blog address. I’m so confused. Sorry for the tangent.


        March 16, 2012 at 5:41 pm

    • Thank you Jandy. You’re so sweet! Nothing wrong about brown-nosing, at least not when you’re the object for it. 🙂 (Even though it sounds a bit disgusting, doesn’t it, thinking of it).

      I’m sorry about wordpress messing up for you. I checked on my settings just to make sure I didn’t put up any silly obstacles for commentors, but I couldn’t find anything odd. You should be able to comment without having to sign in. I’m afraid I don’t know what to do to help you. Sigh.


      March 18, 2012 at 12:41 pm

  4. I pay little attention to any critics. Sometimes I’ll look up other reviews on a movie I’ve just watched to get some different perspectives, and often gain some valuable insight because some critics are very intelligent… but there isn’t a specific one that I look to or put my trust in.

    To play devil’s advocate for a moment, perhaps that sleeping critic had seen the movie before? Or perhaps he was just too tired at that particular screening and saw it again before writing his review? One shouldn’t make assumptions based on anecdotal evidence.


    March 16, 2012 at 5:39 pm

    • I guess there could be an explanation. But I trust on my witness. She saw what she saw. And it appears a bit odd that he didn’t at least mention in his review that the movie MIGHT have a sedative effect on you and that he had to rewatch it…


      March 18, 2012 at 12:42 pm

  5. Are film critics really able to be completely independent of peer pressure and trends?

    There was a critic in the Toronto Star who reviewed Tim Burton’s Planet of the Apes. He really liked it, and gave it a very high rating in the review when the moview came out. However, pretty much every other critic panned that movie. So a couple weeks later, he “re-reviewed” it, and gave it a lower rating more in-line with the other critics.

    I lost a lot of respect for his opinion after that re-review.

    Personally, I find that it’s best to find a critic with tastes similar to your own. Then you can trust him as a guide. For me, I follow Peter Howell of the Toronto Star. He’s pretty much always accurate, and when he disagrees with the critical consensus, I find myself siding with his view.


    March 16, 2012 at 5:40 pm

    • Ewww. That kind of re-evaluation really sucks. Especially if it’s going in that direction. I think the opposite is more OK. Suppose you watch a movie that doesn’t click for you at the first time and give a negative review. But you decide to give it a new chance and next time it works for you. Perhaps the analyses of others have helped you to “get it”, perhaps it was just a matter of bad timing. I wouldn’t hold it against someone for getting more positive at a movie after a second viewing. I can vividly imagine there are some movies that I didn’t “get” which I would appreciate more on the second, third or even fourth watching. (Like Primer, which I didn’t understand a thing of. But with a flow chart in my hand I might like it.)

      But when it happens the way you describe, you certainly lose the respect for that critic.


      March 18, 2012 at 12:46 pm

  6. For me, critics serve two functions. Before a film I might read some reviews to get an idea of what I should see. After I see a film I sometimes like to read reviews, both positive and negative, to get an idea of people’s different perspectives. A good example was John Carter, where I really enjoyed seeing how generally critics picked on the same elements and flaws but then treated them differently and took different things from the film.

    Corey Atad

    March 16, 2012 at 7:41 pm

    • Different perspectives is really what you want them for. It’s a bit saddening that at least I sometimes find that diversity a bit lacking. I’d dare say that bloggers often offer more disparate takes on movies than the professionals do.


      March 18, 2012 at 12:48 pm

  7. Well, to tell you the truth I do not follow anyone very closely. Back in India, I used to see the reviews of few Critics but I knew most of them were douche-bags and their opinion never affected mine.

    Since getting involved in the blogging community, I have found myself relying more on fellow bloggers for their opinions. Mostly because at least you know they are honest opinions since no one has asked you to do it and we are still doing it and also because I think after some time you know the personality of that blogger and then it becomes easier to judge how will you fell yourselves. I am subscribed to Roger Ebert journal but even then I usually just see his ratings. That’s it. The moment money gets involved in it, lot of other factors come in too and it becomes almost impossible to shield you from it. So, it is blooger community for me. It’s been almost a year now and blogger community hasn’t disappointed me much.


    March 16, 2012 at 7:56 pm

    • Yay! Go bloggers!
      Honestly, I feel the same way. Even though the journalist inside me cries at the same time. I wouldn’t like to see a world where there is no place for professionally working journalists who are required to follow certain standards and ethics. Perhaps I’m just oldfashioned. And a bit of a hypocrite. I take side with journalists but I follow the amateur blogs more closely.


      March 18, 2012 at 12:50 pm

  8. I’m not sure the strict separation between “critics” and “bloggers” is always helpful, and it can be misleading. Anyone can be influenced by any number of things. Print critics get paid, sure, but they also often turn in scathing reviews, so they’re not necessarily compromised. Meanwhile, even if most bloggers don’t get paid outright, it’s not unusual anymore for bloggers to be given perks by studios. I’m nowhere near a major blogger, but I have the opportunity to go to press screenings relatively frequently, if I want to, at least for smaller distributors,and often get press passes for film festivals. Guys at Slashfilm or Flim School Rejects get into everything. People at the blog I write for (Row Three) routinely get screener DVDs from indie directors, distributors, etc. It’s not that hard to get perks if you go after them. I’m not saying that any of these people are compromised either, but if that’s the distinction that you’re making between print critics and bloggers, it’s far blurrier than that. In fact, I’d say it’s almost EASIER for bloggers to get corrupted, because we’re not used to having the kind of access we’re thrust into. One of my first major things for Row Three was meeting an indie director and getting a screener copy of his film. I didn’t particularly like the film, but writing a mediocre review of it was really hard (I did it, but I also found as many good things to say as I honestly could), because I was so struck with having actually met the guy, and he was really nice and eager.

    Rather than making distinctions between critics and bloggers in terms of trustworthiness based on financial or other gains, it’s better just to find writers you like – either because you agree with them and thus begin to trust that their opinion will match yours, because you’re challenged by the way they make you think, or because you simply enjoy reading them – whether professional critics, semi-professional bloggers, or personal hobbyists.


    March 16, 2012 at 8:15 pm

    • Jandy, that’s a very well articulated comment! I have yet to see any fringe benefits from blogging. No free screenings, no DVDs, no favors from anyone to me. I’m just too small and unimportant I think and I don’t mind. I can proudly and truthfully say that I’m independent! But yes, I can read between the lines of other, more successful blogs, that they get stuff. The question is if they’ve got integrity enough not to become affected by it. And I don’t know. Only they do.

      But as you say it’s just a blur these days anyway. And you need to find other ways to decide if someone is trustworthy than just building it on wheather they’re paid or not to write.


      March 18, 2012 at 12:54 pm

  9. For me, it depends on their knowledge, personal feelings, and how they’re able to construct their criticism.

    That’s all I can say as there’s not really a lot of critics I trust these days.

    Steven Flores

    March 16, 2012 at 10:31 pm

    • Well, I guess I’m a bit of the same. Though I must say that the most important thing for me is that the critic is good at the craft of writing/talking. Even if I wouldn’t always trust them, I always want to be entertained.


      March 18, 2012 at 1:02 pm

  10. At this point the critics I read, I read because I like their writing styles. Their opinions on movies don’t really matter too much to me. I’m well aware of what I like, so I usually watch movies based on my affinity for particular genres, performers, directors, what have you.

    Dave Enkosky

    March 17, 2012 at 3:15 am

    • Yes, many times when I read bloggers or critics, I do it more to be entertained than to get guidance for what to see or not. But at the sema time I think I do take some impression, regardless of my intentions.


      March 18, 2012 at 1:03 pm

  11. Let’s see, again I don’t watch enough movies or follow movie critics enough (I’m not even sure if the like, 2 I do know are still actually critiquing) but I can certainly apply this game reviewers!

    Generally, I’m very very wary to trust anybody that gets paid to critique, especially when their income is funded by the publishers that release the product (iirc Sony owns Kotaku for example.) But, the biggest thing I’ve tried to do is find a reviewer with similar tastes to mine, and listen to their -reasons- for not liking a game, and weigh those, particularly more objective parts. Does the game have crashing bugs or bad menus? well that’s obviously not something that can be argued with.

    I don’t let reviews dictate entirely, but again, someone who has proven to have similar tastes who I can trust to be honest with a title, yes their opinion can make or break a hedge/line decision.

    I guess in general the tastes don’t even have to line up as long as you understand their tastes, and know what the valuable, meaty part of their reviews are. To apply to movies, I guess if you knew someone really liked slower paced movies, and you didn’t, a review where they talked about disliking the pacing of the movie might peak your interest. Whereas if they liked the pacing but hated, say, the graphic style, well then you might want to reconsider. The important thing is make sure the reviewer is supporting their opinions and explaining them very well, and that you -do- trust them.

    Holly "Digit" Dotson

    March 17, 2012 at 8:55 am

    • I think it works fine to make a parallel. What matters a lot is that you as you say “understand their tastes”. Then you know a bit of what to expect. Even if you don’t share the taste with a particular reviewer, it can be helpful as a guide to what NOT to see (or play). But it takes a bit of time to develop that kind of relationshiop to a certain critic.


      March 18, 2012 at 1:05 pm

      • Yes, yes it does. But I find generally if they’re worth listening to, they stick around. Even if they hop off certain massively multiplayer ships and go to entirely different mediums. Tastes and personalities still show through.

        Holly "Digit" Dotson

        March 18, 2012 at 10:50 pm

  12. I’ve never read a lot of critics reviews, and I don’t know if I have a favorite. I’ve begun reading different blogs and have found some where I like their style more, but I try not to read reviews of a film that I plan to see precisely because I’m afraid I will be too influenced by them. At the same time, though, I do tend to look at rottentomato scores and read a lot of what people are buzzing about before the film opens, so I’m sure that I do pick up some general ideas from that.


    March 17, 2012 at 11:37 am

    • I must admit that I’ve never dived into the rottentomato thing. Am I missing something important? But I’ve got such a huge blog feed as it is already. So little time, so many films to watch and write about… it leaves only that much time over to read about them.


      March 18, 2012 at 1:06 pm

      • You’re definitely not missing anything. Pretty much all I look at is the overall tomato score. It’s just an aggregate of how many people liked it versus hated it. If you’re reading the blogs though, you’ve probably got a much better sense of the movie as a whole.


        March 18, 2012 at 2:14 pm

  13. I admit, I stopped listening to critics years ago. I suppose that’s not helping my own case since I now review old movies on my own blog.

    I grew up in Chicago, where Gene Siskel and Roger Ebert ruled as film critics. I admired them both, since they both seemed to really love movies. 18 years ago I moved to Denver, where the film critics working for the papers were journalists who just happened to write the movie reviews…they had no great love for the movies. Sadly, it seems like more and more critics fit into that category now days.


    March 17, 2012 at 4:08 pm

    • Yes, I see that tendency too. The ones who wrote reviews in my local newspapers used to be cinephiles (one of them is chairman in our local film club nowadays). But those who write now… not so very much. It’s apparent from reading them.

      I dropped by your blog. I love the idea! So glad someone bothers to care about and write about those forgotten movies!


      March 19, 2012 at 9:19 am

  14. For every critic, I am assuming that they are giving their personal opinion. However, I will almost never assume that what they saw in a movie is what I will see as well. Before a movie, I read (or listen to) a couple critics to see if they will mention anything that will be of interest to me. After a movie, I’m only interested in critics that give helpful analysis, or who will help me get a different perspective on the film.

    This means that any critic who basically give a “thumbs up/thumbs down” approach to movies aren’t really helpful to me. So I’m pretty picky about who I read.

    Steve Kimes

    March 17, 2012 at 5:10 pm

    • There are so many views out there so I think you make it wise to be picky. Just look at any newer movie at IMDb! There are often hundreds of links to critics! And then far from every blogger who writes about a movie bothers to provide links to IMDb… You need to find your gems I think and stick to them. Otherwise you’ll spend far, far, far more time reading about movies than ever getting around to watch them or write about them yourself.


      March 18, 2012 at 1:11 pm

  15. I haven’t paid attention to critics for a long time. Like the time I learned as a child that professional wrestling wasn’t real and lost interest in it, so too did I come to realize that a large number of critics do not write real reviews/critiques of films and I lost interest in them, too.

    I read one review where the critic literally admitted he fell asleep a little into a film, and he gave it a poor review because it didn’t keep him awake. I felt like writing to the paper telling them their critic should return his fee he was paid for writing that “review”. Other times it is very obvious that a critic is writing a bad review of a film solely because he or she came up with a way to work the title of the film into a punning put down. Other times you can tell that they had likely already pre-written the review, then saw the film, then just didn’t bother to change more than a few lines which became at odds with the rest of their review. Some will give a glowing review to a bad film because they want to get their names on the advertising for the film in order to promote themselves. I could go on.

    My feeling is that we need far fewer professional movie critics and far more movie reviewers. Just tell us a little about the movie and why we may or may not want to see it. Don’t try to tell us why you are smarter than the director, producers, writers, marketing folks, etc. That just comes across as sour grapes from a frustrated failed screenwriter. I actually pay more attention to bloggers than professional critics.


    March 17, 2012 at 5:45 pm

    • All your examples are very sad and target the growing nagging feeling I have of something being rotten. Enough of incidents like that and there’s no wonder if you lose your faith in paid crtics!


      March 18, 2012 at 1:14 pm

  16. I’m not sure if I ever really read any critics reviews of movies, I generally watch any movie that interests me, whether it has good or bad buzz surrounding it. Sometimes especially if it has bad buzz surrounding it, there’s just something about a movie like the FP that sparks my curiosity no matter how bad people may say it is, or in that case possibly because of how bad people may say it is. As for turning me onto a movie that may have never been on my radar in the first place, I leave that to my fairly recent viewing of movie blogs. If I find someone who has a similar taste in movies as myself, which I have found a couple, and they find a movie they like, it does make me much more inclined to seek it out and watch it myself.


    March 17, 2012 at 5:51 pm

    • It is a wonderful feeling to find a movie that you love despite of all the negative buzz aroudn it, isn’t it? 🙂
      (I had hopes this would happen to me for John Carter, but alas not – even though I did my best.)

      I definitely think movie blogs help me find movies that otherwise would have escaped my radar, especially since they do a lot of backlogs, going back to older movies, which professional reviews never do. They usually only give you what’s up right now.


      March 18, 2012 at 1:17 pm

  17. Great post! Well firstly I’m not surprised the critic was sleeping in Tree of Life but how lame to then give it a great review! I think you should name and shame the critic for all your Swedish readers!!!

    I find it very difficult to not have my judgment affected by reviews. For instance when I finally got round to seeing Drive, I loved it but I kind of knew I would love it from everything I’d read. Though despite the many positive reviews for Melancholia and Tree of Life, I wasn’t a big fan of either.

    It’s very hard to write about movies when you’ve already read everything you can find on them already. Sometimes I see a new trailer for a film and people have blogged about it and then I want to blog about it but I find that I don’t have much more to add to what has already been written.

    Sorry I digress. There is something definitely dodgy about much film criticism. The magazine reviews often praise the stars if not the film so I guess they stay in the good books. And aren’t a lot of film critics really frustrated writers? I know I am. So why would I criticise another’s work.blood.sweat/tears? I hate myself for trashing any film but sometimes you just can’t help it. I know how much effort goes into them so I try to just write about the films I love.


    March 18, 2012 at 3:13 pm

    • Thanks for your kind words.
      I think that either we’re aware of it or not I think it’s hard not to take any impression whatsoever from the general opinion. So if you want to watch a movie completely unaffected by other reviews, making your own judgement, you’d probalby better not read a single word about it on before hand – as well as logging out of forums, twitter etc, not to catch the buzz. But again: sometimes you find yourself standing a bit alone. It can be satisfying as well as a bit frustrating. I’m not the fighting kind of person so I don’t usually go into huge discussions about it. I’ll share my view, but not try to convince the world that they’re wrong…

      About film critics being frustrated writers…Maybe. I don’t know. For my own part I enjoy writing as a hobby. I’ve worked with it once upon a time, it had pros and cons. Sometimes I think about returning, but I’m afraid that the train might have passed.


      March 18, 2012 at 6:23 pm

  18. This is really a never-ending yet timely question, isn’t it? (And that horoscope story is fascinating. Thank you for sharing it.)

    I’m in line with some of the commenters above in that critical consensus does not sway to watch or not watch a movie (which is why I still recently watched London Boulevard despite its endless pans). I don’t read a lot of mainstream critics but the ones I do – particularly A.O. Scott and Manohla Dargis for the NY Times – I tend to read after I’ve seen a film and they will often enlighten the experience I just had, conjure up ideas I might not have otherwise had, etc. And I find that really helpful and wonderful. Plus, those two are just SUCH good writers. They’re fun to read even if I haven’t seen the movie, ya know?

    Of course, if I ever saw A.O. Scott asleep at a press screening I would probably go to the bathroom and cry.


    March 18, 2012 at 3:32 pm

    • I’d love to read more of the reviews you mention in NY Times. I’m afraid most of their content is locked out for me. But occasionally I stumble upon reviews that aren’t behind bars and then I always read them eagerly. It makes me feel like a world citizen whenever I read that publication. Not just someone living in a dark and remote part up in the North…

      I agree completely about reviews: the best one are those that you enjoy reading as much even if you haven’t watched the movie and aren’t planning to do it either. They stand alone in their own right. That’s awesome.


      March 18, 2012 at 6:26 pm

  19. I’d like to think I wasn’t so easily swayed by other’s opinions, but a proper shredding from someone I respect would probably make me hesitant. In the UK we’re quite lucky in that there’s a couple of critics to suit most people’s tastes. Mark Kermode and Danny Leigh have been long-time favourites of mine, and if they both slaughtered a movie I was unsure about – I’d struggle to justify watching the movie in cinemas.

    It’s shocking how some ‘critics’ get away with ‘reviewing’ films they’ve not seen. Kermode in particular is great at educating, highlighting and exposing things from “behind the scenes” of the cinema industry that we’d otherwise be unaware of.

    Paragraph Film Reviews

    March 19, 2012 at 9:13 am

    • Mark Kermode is the certain film critic I’m talking about who I’m a devoted follower of. I talk so much about him in my blog that it’s ridiculous so I try to hold back a bit, but alas in vain. I’ve never heard of Danny Leigh, but apparently it’s someone I should check out. He appears to be on The Guardian and BBC 1 as well. Hopefully I can get access to his work.


      March 19, 2012 at 9:23 am

      • Both great critics, mostly because they’re not afraid to speak their mind, and can back up their stance with well-rounded cine-literate arguments, it also helps when their taste in films echoes you own! Leigh isn’t as prolific as Kermode with the podcasts, blogs, twitter etc, but he’s at his best on Film 2012 at the moment – you may get that on the international BBC iPlayer?

        Paragraph Film Reviews

        March 19, 2012 at 10:16 am

  20. ‘But that didn’t stop him from giving the film a glowing, enthusiastic review afterwards’

    Maybe there is the possibility he saw the film at another screening?

    For me film critics allow me to take notice of films that I would not see without their glowing reviews (Martha Marcy May Marlene for example), obviously I disagree sometimes with the overall critical opinion, but negative reviews don’t fully discourage me from seeing a film, it’s more my first impression or who is in the film or who makes the film (I avoid Adam Sandler like a wasp’s nest), but positive reviews do encourage me to see a film I would not normally see (21 Jump Street for example. which got plenty of good reviews which proved my first impressions incorrect). So yeah, reviews do sway my viewing schedule to an extent.

    Elliot Newton

    March 19, 2012 at 7:18 pm

    • I guess it is a possible explanation. Still wouldn’t it have been natural to mention the sedative character of the movie?

      It’s really wonderful when critics help you to discover movies you might not have watched otherwise. Usually it’s rather bloggers who inspire me though since they also talk about older movies.


      March 19, 2012 at 7:22 pm

  21. I don’t give much credit to any professional critics opinions, I find it hard to trust anyone who is paid to critique anything, whether it be films, cars, or flashlights. There are a few that I like to read because of their writing style, but its very rare for one to sway my viewing decisions.

    I much prefer reading amateur opinions. Sometimes I have no choice, like for the big festival premieres it’s hard to find early reviews from anyone other than the pros, but for everything else, blogs rule.

    Bonjour Tristesse

    March 20, 2012 at 2:38 pm

    • Blogs rule indeed! While not every blogger has a formal journalist training, I must say that many of the hold amazingly high standards as of style and knowledge. The Contagion quote that blogging is grafitti with punctuation is very funny, but not necessarily true.


      March 20, 2012 at 2:56 pm

  22. In general I know which movies I want to see so I don’t care much about what others think of a movie. They do sometimes point me to movies I had not heard of. If there is one critic I occasionally read and care for it is Roger Ebert.


    March 22, 2012 at 3:18 pm

    • I like him too. His views align with mine often enough and he as the personal touch and the writing skill I’m looking for.


      March 22, 2012 at 4:56 pm

  23. As you probably know I’m a fan of Ebert. He admitted that he walked away during one movie and wrote a review about it, he only did it once and felt bad about it afterwards.

    And yes, I do care about reviews. It’s how I decide how to watch a movie or not. Did Ebert like it? Does it have a good imdb score? Does someone else advise it? If any of these are true I might check it out. I might miss some good movies this way but at least most of the crappy movies are filtered.


    March 24, 2012 at 8:05 pm

    • Yes, filitering needs to be done and I think I weigh in what critics have written, at least sub-consciously. But since I nowadays read more blogs than professional film critics I think I think that’s where I get more of my inspiration as of what to see and not to see. But I do care about Kermode.
      And Ebert is also a favorite. Kudos to him for admitting what he did. At least he was honest about it.


      March 25, 2012 at 9:32 am

      • Well, either a favorite critic likes it or someone else, like a blogger, recommends a movie. That way you see a range of nice movies.


        March 26, 2012 at 1:22 pm

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