Saturday, 31 May 2014

Do we need film critics?


In a recent interview for the Guardian Ken Loach said 'sack the critics' or to quote him precisely "sack the critics and get ordinary punters in. People experienced, who know life." This rather touchy statement arises as Loach's latest and final big film production, Jimmy's Hall opened at Cannes to mixed reviews from the film critic circle. 'Ordinary punters' can now catch Jimmy's Hall at selected cinemas throughout the UK from today onwards.

To put it quite simply Loach is wrong, professional film critics are most certainly needed, they have a deep breadth of cinematic knowledge and an undying passion for the film/cinema industry as a whole. Critics are remembered most for lambasting films i.e. Michael Bay et al. But directors conveniently like to forget when critics champion and stand up for movies. (Critics have championed many of Loach's films over his illustrious career, which is why this statement comes as even more of a surprise.)  Directors seem to only complain when a review doesn't suit them, another example being Kevin Smith who famously stopped national press screenings for critics all together, after scathing reviews for several of Smith's films, but as soon as the good reviews for his later movies started rolling in and Smith felt that he was back in favour with the critics, he promptly started critic screenings again. After all film makers rely heavily on film critics as a source of promotion, with quotes and star ratings adorned boldly on their film campaign posters. 

'Ordinary punters' as Loach puts it, often miss out or avoid (depending on how you look at it) a fairly substantial percentage of cinema releases such as foreign language movies, and independent/ indie movies with limited releases. You just need to look at the amount of Hollywood foreign language re-makes being put into production, with 'The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo' being prime example. All because a large section of the public don't want to read subtitles. For instance, I wouldn't have found film gems such as Jeremy, had it not been for Mark Kermode, who regularly and constantly advocates for the viewing public to seek out underdog films, a recent example being Blue Ruin. Critics live and breathe cinema, which is something 'ordinary punters' cannot reproduce, film criticism is a craft which takes years to hone and perfect. And I suspect most 'ordinary punters' would rather go see the latest Hollywood blockbuster over Loach's newest film. It’s harsh but true! On a final note I think film critics need to be respected more, as they are totally dedicated to their profession and who doesn't love to read a well crafted review, negative or positive.

What is your opinion on Loach's latest comments?
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1 comment

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