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That’s Just, Like, Your Opinion, Man: Movie Criticism and Subjectivity…

What do you use movie critics for? What’s their function or role? Is there a distinction between a film reviewer and a film critic? What do their opinions or verdicts mean? It’s getting to the point where the last thing the internet needs is another pretentious self-indulgent meditation on the nature of writing about film, but I’ve been thinking about it a lot of late. The blockbuster season seems to bring with it the classic “audience against critic” debate, not that it’s ever truly gone. Even at the heights of Oscar season, the argument is bristling away in the background, as people lament the relatively low box office if critic-pleasing films like The Artist.

"Yeah, well, you know, that's just, like, your opinion, man..."

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Going Against the Grain: Unpopular Movie Opinions…

I quite liked J. Edgar. Don’t get me wrong, I didn’t think it was perfect or anything like that, but I thought it was an interesting piece of cinema that clearly articulated Eastwood’s views on twentieth century America, fitting as part of a tapestry the director had crafted exploring the country’s history. However, I still feel a little uncertain about my opinion. After all, it seems that most critics quite disliked it. I know that anybody writing or discussing film is required to formulate their own opinion, but there is a strange feeling that comes with disagreeing with the majority opinion. While the world wouldn’t be an interesting place if we all agreed, it’s sometimes hard to reconcile the individual’s opinion against that of the critical majority.

Suits you, sir...

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Critics Just Wanna Have Fun: Why I Dislike the “They Don’t Get It” Argument…

I like to think I am open minded. Just a few weeks ago, I published an article defending big budget blockbusters from their detractors. However, I find myself growing frequently frustrated when it comes to fans using the old “critics don’t like fun” argument to defend a given movie from any sort of meaningful debate and criticism. It happens a few times a year, most spectacularly with Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen back in 2009, but also this year with Sucker Punch. The film has received a critical lambasting, but fans are always quick to rush to the internet to critique the critics, claiming things like “they don’t get it” and “they don’t understand” or nonsense like that.

And, you know what? That’s just plain wrong.

Movie for suckers?

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White and Wrong: Contrarian (Anti-Popularist) Film Critics

I was away in Florida when the whole Armond White thing broke last month. For those out of the loop, users of film review aggregation site Rotten Tomatoes decided that they’d had enough of White’s contrary approach to film reviews after he ‘ruined’ the perfect Tomatometer for District 9 – and generated quite the reaction on the site. With District 9 being released in the UK and Ireland this week, it seems almost the perfect time to revisit the discussion, with the benefit of hindsight. Plus, film criticism is one of those topics that I take a great deal of recreational interest in.

Somehow I doubt we'll ever see eye-to-eye...

Somehow I doubt we'll ever see eye-to-eye...

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