Friday, May 15, 2009

Thinking on Film

Just posted my latest movie review (if you can call a few quick sentences a review, and I do) and it looks like I'm doing just what John Podhoretz saysis happening to the doomed, soon-to-be-out-of-work print movie reviewer:
The question raised about the cashiering of criticism at the nation's newspapers is not: Whatever will happen to the people who are paid to watch movies for a living and write 300 words about each one? It is, rather, what harm is being done to the national cultural conversation (assuming there is such a thing) by the fact that there are fewer and fewer voices participating in it.

The first answer, of course, is that there aren't fewer voices, but many, many more. There are hundreds, if not thousands, of working critics on the Web in all fields. There are book bloggers and film bloggers and dance bloggers and music bloggers. The only difference between them and the professionals is that they don't get paid, except for a few dollars a week from Google ads.

Not that Podhoretz is lamenting the phenomenon:
This deprofessionalization is probably the best thing that could have happened to the field. Film criticism requires nothing but an interesting sensibility. The more self-consciously educated one is in the field--by which I mean the more obscure the storehouse of cinematic knowledge a critic has--the less likely it is that one will have anything interesting to say to an ordinary person who isn't all that interested in the condition of Finnish cinema. Amateurism in the best sense will lead to some very interesting work by people whose primary motivation is simply to express themselves in relation to the work they're seeing--a purer critical impulse than the one that comes with collecting a paycheck along the way.

The democratization of the media is a painful thing but painful only to the elites. It's just may come as a surprise to some people to learn they were part of that elite.

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