12 Things We Learned About Film Criticism From Village Voice Commenters

07/14/2010 4:41 PM |

Who dared to say that Inception doesnt capture much of either living feeling or dreams?

  • “Who dared to say that Inception ‘doesn’t capture much of either living feeling or dreams’?”

Angry Christopher Nolan fans came out to Nick Pinkerton’s thoughtful negative review of Inception over at The Village Voice and taught him a thing or two about how to be a film critic. Here are 12 facts about film criticism we learned from them, which will hopefully help us to do our jobs over here at The L better.

As “Chris” explains, it’s like Nick Pinkerton was absent from the first day of Film Critic School: “I can’t take Nick Pinkerton seriously as a critic because he doesn’t even conform to the most basic rule of movie reviews: PUT A SPOILER ALERT AT THE BEGINNING OF THE REVIEW! Just because you didn’t care for the movie doesn’t mean you have to ruin it for everyone else.” Richard Roeper would totally give this comment a thumbs-up!

2. Negative Reviews Are Just a Way to Get Attention
“Corry M” explains it: “Lesson 1 on getting your review read…Be the lowest rating review on Metacritic.com” Because, obviously, trolling fanboys true fans constitute the bulk of traffic for movie review websites—and happen to be most advertisers’ most-coveted demographic, something that Alison Benedikt takes into account every time she assigns a freelancer. (Don’t know who Alison Benedikt is? That’s not all you don’t know about how film criticism actually works!)

3. Deviations from “Critical Consensus” Reveal Idiocy
As Sam Douche, er, Deutsch, explains: “its like someone saying ‘oh yeah newark is the greatest city on earth but paris sucks’ and even if you have been to neither of those cities, you can say, ‘really?, thats the opposite of what ive heard from everyone else, im not so sure that you are good at this'”. (Even though it’s actually not like that at all, because Nick Pinkerton wrote 870 erudite, well-reasoned words about why Newark is better than Paris Inception disappoints.) Anyway, “I don’t need to have any personal experience to have an opinion that I know for a fact is the true opinion” is an awesome argument! Almost mystical, in some dreamy, Christopher Nolan kind of way.

4. Critics’ Credibility is Defined by Their Taste
As Harkonin explains, “you gave sorcerers apprentice a positive review you must be really a crackpot.” This is because Mr. Pinkerton gave The Sorcerer’s Apprentice a tomato and Inception a splattered tomato. Because the former is dumb and the latter is good—a well known fact—and because Pinkerton thumbs-upped the wrong one, he’s dumb. (Ergo!) Arguments are irrelevant because good ones couldn’t exist for iconoclastic positions that are inherently false.

5. New York Critics Are The Worst
We wrote about this back when The Dark Knight came out, and shades of it are appearing again. As “Sam” asks, “why do all ny critics hate nolan?” This is because New York‘s David Edelstein also wrote a negative review of Inception. The obvious answer? See next.

6. Film Critics Are Gay
The ones from NY, anyway. As “Village Voice SUCKS” asks, “Did you actually SEE Inception?!?!?! You were probably sucking face with your boyfriend the entire time that you didn’t give a lick about the movie.” Haha, a “lick”.

7. A Real Review Talks About Acting and FX
As “Myron K” explains, “As a critic he was supposed to talk about the key points in the movie, how was the acting?, the special effects?, the plot? (Without giving it away mind you!),etc but this guy only gave a bunch of cheap shots at the director.” A good way to do this is to break the review down into subheaded sections: PLOT. ACTING. EFFECTS. But, God, why would Pinkerton take those cheap shots? “Because the direcor [sic] is liked and admired and this film school-law school dropout isnt.” Oh. See next.

8. Critics Have Knee-Jerk Hatred for Popular Things
Paulb explains: “You start your review by sniping at him because so many critics liked Dark Knight? How is this a review when you are taking personal shots at him because he is liked? What does that have to do with this movie and how is that in anyway professional?” How is providing a cultural context for the movie, with a sense of humor and a point of view, part of a film critic’s job?

9. Comedy is a Sign of Stupidity
As CLB explains, “This review lost all credibility with: ‘Nolan’s follow-up offers more muted colors, gift-wrapped themes, and GQ leading men with stockbroker comb-backs over the frowns carved in their brows—indicators of high-minded artistry, all.’ What happened to critics who actually critiqued film-making? This review is just a series of wise cracks; where’s the authority? The expertise?” Could it be—between the “cracks”?

10. Readers Aren’t Stupid—Critics Are!
Andrew R socks it to Nick: “Do you think that using big words makes your reviews sound academic? It sounds like your wrote this article with a thesaurus in hand.” Some of the big words included in the review: signified, totems, abdicate, apothecary, shopworn, crêpe (French? fag!), palatial, municipal, seminar, counterbalance.

11. Reviews Shouldn’t Have Opinions
A good movie review is objective. As Josh points out, “you seem to have more beef with Nolan as a person than with the film as whole. To me, that seems more like an opinion than a critical review of a film and as such would have been more appropriate in a blog post than in a review section. Your review, therefore, fails on literary terms”. QED, sucka!

12. Reviews Are Irrelevant Anyway
Apoorva explains: “sir whatever you say i am going to the movie.nolan has never disappointed in the past and i am sure he woll not now”. Reviews aren’t for reading anyway—just for commentin’!

8 Comment

  • w00t w00t im mentioned, twice!! and really? thank god you dont work for a credible news source. ps thats very clever calling me a douche. AHHAHAHAHAHHAHAH YOU ARE SO FUNNY I HAVE NEVER HEARD THAT BEFORE (ps. douche means shower. get better/more creative insults, you nihilist hipster!)

  • You’re right, Mr. Deutsch, it wasn’t nice to make fun of your name. I’m sorry. But it wasn’t fair of you to make fun of our credibility, either, especially because our application with the Journalism Board is still pending.

  • even if you get approved, the mainstream american will never recognize you guys as they would the washington post or ny times

  • henry stewart, you are my new favorite person.

  • Henry, you missed tonight’s meeting of the Brooklyn Hipster Nihilists. What gives? Were you wasting your time on that film criticism bullshit again? Dude, the mainstream American will never recognize you like they would the Washington Post or NY Times. Let it go. Next meeting is July 27 at Jonny’s house.

  • 13. You are not a proper fan!

    “Nihilist Hipster” is pretty good though. I’d wear that like a badge of honor.

    Also I have a hard time believing anyone actually cares about this movie. People commenting are probably on studio payroll, just a hunch…

  • Hmm, what a silly article. I haven’t seen the film, though I probably will at some stage. Strangely I probably won’t read any articles from this website again.

    13. The reason I won’t read any articles from this website again is nothing to do with the poor standard of journalism, or the fact that the reviewer is vaguely antagonistic towards anyone and anything throughout without making any actual points- it’s definitely because I’m a trolling fanboy!!

  • We live in a country where a third of the population believes Obama is a secret Muslim (inherently pejorative of course), and half think that we have “too much government regulation.”

    Unfortunately, idiots don’t like being told they’re idiots. After all, it makes them feel…like idiots. You just have to ignore them and keep spouting the truth, hoping they’ll come around in time. Believe me — I’ve been an idiot about a great many thing.