One question that I get asked a lot usually goes something like this: so I understand that you are not a fan of contemporary film critics, but is there any evidence you can point to, as a critic, that grounds some of your arguments?
Before I lay out some evidence, I will say that I was one of the early "whistle-blowers" on why contemporary film criticism is flawed. In fact, the first article I ever wrote on my blog focused entirely on this subject. For reference, you can find this article here: https://fairandbalancedfilmreviews.wordpress.com/m...
As a critic myself, I strive to provide the most accurate, unbiased reviews as humanely possible. I believe that as movie-goers, you are entitled to an honest opinion free of hatred and charged rhetoric in hopes of enriching your experiences in the theater. I could go on; this is but a fraction of my philosophy when it comes to criticism.
Unfortunately in this day and age, few if any critics share my view.
So in answer to the question above, the following is just one example of why I provide an alternative choice to today's film criticism.
About a month ago, I was checking out the movie listings for my local theater and I came across something interesting, a documentary titled "Hillary's America: The Secret History of the Democratic Party." Directed by Dinesh D'Souza and Bruce Schooley, the director of Jurassic Park, I knew this was a controversy waiting to be let out of the box.
Now, I try to see as many movies in theaters as I can, regardless of politics, so one night, I decided to go see it. As I was driving, I made a prediction: either today's critics would prove me correct in their treatment of the film or they would prove me wrong by honestly critiquing the film with politics aside, as should be the practice of all critics.
When I walked out of the theater, I was correct in thinking the film was going to be controversial yet in all honesty, the documentary was well directed, there was a great musical score, and most importantly, the documentary was well layed out with plenty of points and historical evidence for backup. Sure the film had its flaws, the most notable being that it lacks a cohesive conclusion that ties together all the points, but beyond that, the documentary was interesting, especially in light of the upcoming election.
Overall, the film was decent but not good enough to take a place on my blog.
With that being said, was I proven right or wrong?
See for yourself. What follows is what anyone can find on Rotten Tomatoes, the go-to place for those who are undecided in choosing new entertainment.
Tomatometer: 4 percent.
Audience Score: 83 percent.
Isn't that difference in the percents interesting! What is also shocking is that for so recent a movie, there is NO critic consensus, a big surprise. Another puzzle is the pathetic description for the film that can be found under "Movie Info." Contrary to most films that are usually blessed with a decent paragraph outlining the basic plot and characters, this film was given one measly sentence that is basically the title of the film rephrased with a pinch of filler.
What's even more disturbing is the reviews given by the critics. Notice how in the following reviews, the critics DO NOT critique the film but instead criticize the ideas behind the film.
"This thing is madness." - Bill Goodykoontz, Arizona Republic
"Doesn't even qualify as effectively executed propaganda." - Michael Rechtshaffen, Los Angeles Times
"This content...will be familiar to anyone who's examined a right-wing website." -Glenn Kenny, New York Times.
It's one thing to dislike a movie for its content yet still write an accurate review on social media analyzing what the film did well and where it could improve; it's another to trash a film under the guise of "film criticism" solely because you disagree with the film's ideas or political views, all the while completley ignoring the film's aesthetics. This is why one of the largest problems in the film criticism community is the inability of critics to stay focused on the film at hand.
To all the critics out there: you are to criticisze the film itself, not the film's political views. A critic is not a political insider or a contributor to a television network. A critic's job is to analyze film, only film and nothing but film.
This is not only a lesson for the critics, but it is also warning to everyone who reads film criticism. Know what is valid criticism and what isn't. If the critic is attacking a film because of its ideas or what it's views on an issue are, then you are better off looking for an alternative.
I think everyone can agree that critics need to stay focused on their job and leave the politics to the people who actually know what they are talking about.