There's been a lot of talk this year about the end of film criticism (what with lots of prominent people losing positions and papers cutting out space, etcetera...) and I haven't really chimed in. So for what it's worth...
I'm more convinced than ever that film criticism is dead. There are so many reasons. It's tough to pinpoint why but the causes are legion. It's not just because corporations who pay critics have been pushing for their employees to act like ad copy writers rather than critics for a long time now (*cough* Rolling Stone). It's not just because of the news that Ben Lyons [gag ~ even worse than his father!] is getting his own TV show. It's not just because the public doesn't understand the point (at all) of criticism and even if they did they wouldn't be interested. It's not just due to the lack of critical thinking skills out there (so useful in life and rarely taught anywhere. If we don't have these skills we're so easily controlled by marketing, politics, religion, whatever). It's not just because Siskel (RIP) & Ebert (get well soon), for all their enthusiasms and intelligence, accidentally encouraged the "consumer reports" philosophy of criticism (thumbs = reductive and antithetical to discussions about movies. I don't know about you but I want to see an interesting failure just as much as a beloved success). It's not just because in the age of the internet everyone thinks they're qualified (I realize this includes me, pot/kettle *oops). It's not just because some life-long employed critics at major outlets were so lazy about their jobs (plot description + good or bad? = DONE!). It's not just because of the rapid disposability of movies in the NOW culture (so many film writers are wilfully ignorant/callow about how little they've seen from before they were adolescents. It's OK to have gaps in knowledge. Everyone does... it's a 100 year old artform but to think this doesn't effect your discernment? Yikes)
It's not just because of any of these things and others, too. It's the combination of all of them that made a perfect storm of film criticism being over. Now it's just truly "opinions" flying around... just like all the people who claimed to hate film critics always accused it of being.
Sigh and Blah and Boo-Hoo.
Anyway. I was just
I've started wondering if the whole entire world has forgotten what a truly great action sequence looks like (maybe they have. I mean, it has been awhile since James Cameron was making movies), or what complicated plots that don't flop around at all feel like to get lost in. I've started to wonder if people have just never seen Maggie Gyllenhaal act before if they think this qualifies as fine work.
The response to the movie has been messing with my head so much that I started forgetting the things I actually liked about it... and liked about it a lot. Which isn't fair to the movie or to you reading because it puts me in stupid reactionary mode. So I must keep focusing on the magnificence of Heath Ledger's unnerving work. That part is easy to love and get on board with. I hope to return to the movie soon. But first I have to figure out a way to push all the marketing, box office hoopla, and masterpiece nonsense out of my head and just view it on its own terms.
Anyway... Bat Links
Reverse Shot a Dark Knight post worthy of The Onion.
Dear Jesus "Batman Their Way" amusing speculation about what other auteurs might do with the caped crusader
Cinephilia Arden doesn't blog much anymore but I love her style & sensibility. This is a really fun personal review of what works and what doesn't for her within the celebrated movie.
Glenn Gaslin "that new Batman movie totally sucked --except all the parts that were awesome"
Las Vegas Weekly my favorite review of The Dark Knight thus far (by Mike D'Angelo). He's a huge fan of Christopher Nolan but he's smart enough to understand Nolan's limitations too. He's been one of the most insightful critics for a long time.