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The show that made Siskel and Ebert famous. These two Chicago-based movie critics sit around and review movies, giving either "Thumbs up" or "Thumbs down." Noted for the good-natured ... See full summary »
Relied upon by some moviegoers and reviled by others, film critics for over 100 years have represented a form of journalism that sought to find and judge film as an art in a way others might want to heed. This film presents a comprehensive history of this form of writing as it developed with the film medium itself. With historical profiles on major contributors like Pauline Kael along with interview with contemporary figures like Roger Ebert, the nature of the profession is explored both for its illustrious past and its uncertain future. Written by
Kenneth Chisholm (firstname.lastname@example.org)
I've been writing reviews online for a long time. I'm one of 'those' internet people that this documentary mentions with regards to 'amateur' reviewers who now, of course thanks to the internet, can write whatever I want, whenever I want, online. And also of course the difference between me and everyone else who writes online and the film critics really comes down to money, who gets paid for it (though sometimes, a lot of the time, writing talent and luck come into play as well). This documentary touches on that, as well as the history of film criticism. In America only, really.
It isn't bad exactly. But the film feels like it was put together in cheap, and the documentarians, with the exception of a couple of subjects (i.e. Elvis Mitchell, Andrew Sarris - I imagine the interview with Ebert happened before he lost his jaw), look like they were interviewed quickly in-between movies in a cafe or something. And the editing has that very basic, slapped-on feel. Perhaps it doesn't need to be 'much' more, it gives the goods quickly on the first American film critics and the history of the likes of Farber and Agee.
And I can see the irony in me reviewing something like this, that a guy who is the subject is having to say whether or not it's worth watching. I wish it was longer, or done by someone who had some stronger filmmaking chops. Again, nothing offensive about how the film is put together, or the interviews chosen (though the lack of the French New Wave in any talk about film criticism is shocking, they are mentioned but it's too fleeting). For a quick Netflix viewing, it's fine. But it's also cursory, and a little too basic.
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