Thursday, January 31, 2008

ON ONLINE FILM CRITICS, AND NEWSPAPER CRITICS

Been reading about the online film critics and some of the sites they have up and running. I just find it interesting because online is really where all the action is as far as film criticism is concerned these days. If you want to be a film critic you basically have to go online. It's the only place to be.

I guess I'm interested because I have been doing more and more online film criticism myself over at Film School Rejects, one of the more successful sites out there. I have offered some very good reviews of Knocked Up, Ratatouille and Cloverfield, gave positive notices to Live Free or Die Hard and Ocean's Thirteen, was less impressed with Spider-Man 3 and Alvin and the Chipmunks, and basically savaged Good Luck Chuck. So I've gotten into the online act myself, along with a lot of other people.

In fact I can be a "quote whore" like the rest of them. With Knocked Up I said "Judd Apatow has again found a way to make an “R” movie with a heart." With Ocean's Thirteen I said "The cool dudes are back!" With Spider-Man 3 I said "beware of the number 3." With Alvin and the Chipmunks I said "these three legendary cartoon musical artists deserve better." As for Cloverfield, I called it "one fast-moving, roller coaster of a movie".

I also said this about Good Luck Chuck: "for Jessica Alba this has to be a low point." So yeah, I have my quotes ready. Hire me already as a movie critic, darnet.
Anyway, here's an old Christian Science Monitor piece about online film criticism and how it's caught on. And here's another piece about some of the wild and wooly sites out there offering online film criticism.

I also offer these up because, quite frankly, the newspapers are really dropping the ball in offering film criticism or for that matter any other type of film coverage.

I notice that over at the Detroit Free Press their film critic Terry Lawson was given the can, and I just don't get it. Neither does a lot of other people, but still, it's a sad trend. I know that Jami Bernard got canned not too long ago from her newspaper job at the Daily News and she has since gone online. (Here's a Q and A she did about how she got into film criticism and some of the movies she likes and dislikes. Seems she likes a lot of grindhouse stuff. She also once edited Rex Reed.) Of course Pete Hammond got the can over at MAXIM recently, so even some magazines are getting hit.

About newspapers I have to say this: people do NOT buy newspapers to READ the NEWS. They may say they do, but they don't. Instead, they buy them to read the opinion columns, check the entertainment reviews and read all the sports. That's why they read the paper! You really think people read the paper in order to read some story about someone who was caught drunk driving? Or read about some accident, or about some idiot who got charged with something and had to appear in court?! Who cares about any of that. People want to see opinions and some personality from time to time, and movie reviews provide exactly that.

Reminds me of these constant arguments by TV people in these TV newsrooms. The first thing these managers want to cut in TV newsrooms are the sports and entertainment reporters -- even though that's the best part of the newscast! These managers think the only thing people want see is the depressing news! Hell, no!
I just don't see the point of newspapers getting rid of people who might have something to contribute to making the newspaper an attractive thing for people to buy -- especially if they happen to be interested in broader topics like the movies! If you get rid of the movie writers, you're getting rid of your audience and making your paper something less attractive. It's a good way to help send your newspaper to the dustbin of history.

That's my shot at the newspaper industry and the people in charge of running these papers into the ground -- in particular, the people in charge at the Detroit Free Press. No wonder they needed a freaking JOA with the Detroit News to keep itself afloat if this is the type of decision-making that goes on over there year after year.

That's it!

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