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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 am a part of all that I have met; Yet all experience is an arch where through Gleams that untraveled world, whose margin fades For ever and for ever when I move. How dull it is to pause, to make an end,"
My major criticism of this film (about film criticism) is that it ends where it should begin: the future of film criticism.
I saw this film recently at Dartmouth College on Winter Carnival Weekend. Whether due to competing campus events or cold weather, the film was attended by an audience of less than two dozen, nearly everyone eligible for a AARP film discount, if one had been available. Dartmouth College offers a robust Film & Media Studies program, but only a handful of students were in attendance, most arriving at film's end. This alone is probably testimony enough about the future of film criticism, but the closing on screen statement about the gangplank exits suffered by 28 major (print media) film critics in recent years reveals an ongoing mutiny not yet plundered for the reasons why.
My own conjecture 'why' (offered as nothing more than by a film buff keyboarding here and now) is that you are reading the reason why: the ubiquity of the internet, and the suffusive flow, if not tsunami, of blogging. One blog catalog alone offers over 5,600 film blogs. Film critics, you have met the enemy and it is I.
But back to the film, not the future, for now. For the Love of Movies (FTLOM if a textter) plays like a filmed version of Cliff Notes on the history of film criticism rather than an insightful exploration. Informative? Yes, but I am a 'film criticism' neophyte or idiot savant depending upon your take. So I learned some new names and film flotsam to toss out at the next dinner party I attend, but nothing to provide me with much of a cogent argument as to why we need to rescue any of those 28 film critics off the gangplank to guide us through the chop and swell of Avatar's 'perfect storm' of movie-making, blockbusters, 3-D, computer technology, and the future.
As I watched FTLOM I was reminded of concurrent dynamics in other streams of criticism such as food and restaurant criticism (i.e. the demise of Gourmet Magazine), journalism, and music criticism, to mention a few. Now longtime culinary, journalism, and music critics are finding safe harbors harder to come by to avoid the plunder by today's pirates twittering and blogging away with iPhones and iPads. Arrgh! mateys, prepare to be boarded!
So what lies on the horizon for the future of film criticism? The one thing I do know is that I may become an adventurer in this brave new world and journey to new vistas of critical opinion, discourse, and blogging, but that does not make me a navigator, GPS notwithstanding, nor a film critic. I still want to listen and learn from those who can tell me if (how, and why) a film can carry me to those newer worlds. Unfortunately For the Love of Movies provides scarce few cinematic buoys to help navigate the waters.
So its fade to black and bon voyage. Ben Moore
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