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March 31, 2010

The fruits of being a critic

Interesting piece by film critic Tony Scott in The New York Times about the future of criticism and the demise of the long-running television show, "At the Movies." Scott and Chicago Tribune movie critic Michael Phillips are the current thumbs-up-and thumbs-down fellas on the once-popular show. I hadn't realized how long it had been going: it began in the late 1970s with the late Gene Siskel and feisty-as-ever Roger Ebert. Disney, which syndicates the show, recently announced it was closing it down.

I liked how Tony ends the piece: "The future of criticism is the same as it ever was. Miserable, and full of possibility. The world is always falling down. The news is always very sad. The time is always late.

"But the fruit is always ripe."

Pretty much my feelings.

My other "favorite" part: the comments from the lovely readers, who think nothing of telling a well-reasoned and intelligent writer what a fool he is.

March 31, 2010 8:27 PM | | Comments (1)


Those “thumbs-up-and thumbs-down fellas” were harbingers of the discourse today. We label this film talk as criticism, but it belongs more to an oral than a written culture, as does the blogosphere. With Siskel/Ebert, critics even had “personality” and mannerism now. The movement has been from away from aesthetic analysis toward personalized opinion. So we have today a consumer report complete with a star rating system, enabling Rotten Tomatoes type calculations. Film criticism within the purely written tradition will perhaps position itself in a niche separate from the common review format that print invented with its deadlines, word count restrictions, and yea/nay summation. But its unlikely to be able to link as seamlessly and with the same cultural relevance that it once did.

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