And so the debate about the future of film criticism, which,
admittedly, only film critics seem to be interested in, goes on.
Here’s my own recent illustrative anecdote. A couple of
weeks ago the local publicists for Disney invited me to an early screening of
their big summer animation movie, “WALL-e.” Then they, well, disinvited me.
Why? It seems the early screenings were only for those who were gioing to do
interviews for puff pieces on the film or who were going to write stuff like:
delivered big time. How big time is big time? Let's just say it's a good thing
I was sitting in the back row, because this movie charmed my fucking pants off,
then went down on me in public for an hour and a half. (To the family sitting
next to me, sorry for all the noise.)”
as in this review.
As you can see, then, the Disney and Pixar people, like all
studios, fear us. One bad word from us would topple the “WALL-e” juggernaut
from clearing $60 million in its opening weekend despite enlisting people like
NASA in its PR campaign (see below). How else could mediocre blockbusters like “Iron Man” and
“You Don’t Mess With the Zohan”
at the box office if not for a thumbs up from the top tier of movie critics?
Only a cynic would suggest that the movies were going to make a ton of money
anyway and these guys are just desperately trying to seem cool, in the loop and
relevant by liking them.
And if you have any doubt about the power of criticism, how
about Sony Classics avoiding New York
City in their opening of Mark and Jay Duplass’s “Baghead” and instead releasing the film in places like Portland
and Austin that
“tend to connect with what’s new and different.”
The reason? David Poland in Movie City News suggests it
might have something to do with this negative “New York Times” review of the
Duplass Brothers’ first film “The Puffy Chair.”
So there you go: when critics aren’t proving their mettle by
getting on the bandwagon for the most recent heavily promoted summer movie, they
can show their stuff by scaring off anyone who dares to show originality and
talent on a tiny budget. So there!