11 June 2009: the weekly roundup of film criticism news

Ryan Kelly at Medfly Quarantine alerts movie critics to “beware the Tomatometer,” for it is apparently “a new game in town” that is “pav[ing] the way for this ADD wave of film criticism” and offers a “false sense of objectivity.” Okay, then.

• Tirdad Derakhshani at Philly.com notes that once critic, now filmmaker Paul Schrader, in a new essay, “argues that the ‘great middle’ of film criticism – serious yet accessible film discussion – has disappeared, pushed out on one side by jargon-filled academic studies, and on the other by mass-media film reviews that are little more than consumer guides.” Like the Tomatometer, perhaps.

Jim Emerson at his blog Scanners asks, “Can a movie ruin a good review? Conversely, can a review actually improve upon a movie?” And we can also ask, Can the Tomatometer ruin a good review?

• David Hudson at IFC’s The Daily comments that the New York Observer’s laying off of its legendary critic left him “a little confused about how to feel, much less react. On the one hand, Andrew Sarris helped reclaim American movies for Americans by importing and reinterpreting an appreciation of American directors. On the other hand, he’s been quoting from the press kits just a whole lot lately.”

Shawn Levy at Mad About Movies also notes, about Sarris: “True, in the past 20-odd years, there wasn’t the same passion or craft or reliability in his writing. But there is no denying his long-standing influence or his importance in the history of the medium and those who wish to understand it.”

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