Monday, June 13, 2016
But what must it be like to be a serious student of film – to have spent years learning cinematic theory, dramatic structure, and film history only to now be reviewing superhero moves every week or sequels of superhero movies every week? If your goal was to be the next Pauline Kael, how do you sit through NEIGHBORS 2 and write two incisive pages on it?
What if you’re a restaurant critic told by your doctor you need to go on a no-salt diet?
Or a longtime rock critic who just can’t stand hip hop?
God forbid you review Broadway and are baffled by HAMILTON. Don’t wait for the next Rogers & Hammerstein musical.
Trends change, tastes change, and what if that new trend just isn’t for you?
And how do you cover every genre? I personally hate zombie shows. I just do. THE WALKING DEAD and RETURN OF THE WALKING DEAD and THE HARLEM GLOBETROTTERS MEET THE WALKING DEAD might be exceptional shows – great characters, imaginative storytelling, top-flight production values – but I can’t watch ‘em. It wouldn’t be fair for me to pan these shows because of my own personal bias, but how can I just ignore them because they’re “not my thing?”
Do critics secretly worry that at some point they’ll be out of touch and can no longer perform their job effectively? The tough thing here is that critics need to be both objective and subjective? Can they separate their bias to determine whether something is a piece of shit on merit?
How influenced are critics by the zeitgeist? Is there public and peer pressure to like certain things? When GIRLS came out did the ones who hated it feel they had to be kind otherwise they’d appear to be dinosaurs? Do critics ever temper their reviews to present themselves in a better light? Is it really worth selling your soul over GIRLS?
From time to time in this blog I review movies, and TV, and concerts. But I just get to pick and choose. I’m not obligated to break down this week’s MINDY PROJECT or suffer through some Adam Sandler comedy. I also have no pretense that my reviews are trying to educate or provide perspective into the human condition or the environment. I give my opinion about whether I liked something and attempt to make my reviews as breezy and entertaining as I can. I’ve never studied film theory. I’m sure I’m missing out but I have no desire to sit through a retrospective of Bergman. Heaven help me, but I’ll never win a Pulitzer.
But I’m always left with a better appreciation for what the good critics do. Summarizing a movie or show, trying to determine what did and didn’t work and why is difficult (unless Keanu Reeves is in it and then it’s easy).
And finally, add in the awareness that right around the corner someone is creating a brilliant new product that you just won’t get to save your life and I could see why the one thing all critics agree on is Extra-strength Tylenol.
By Ken Levine at 6:00 AM