Issue: October 2015 - Critics

A very brief history of film criticism

For as long as there have been films, there have been people writing about them. As film transformed from a nickelodeon fancy to an established art form and a dominant medium of entertainment as it exists today, film criticism has changed as well. However, just as the history of film is too broad a subject for any one article to summarize, the history of film criticism as a whole is equally too vast. Instead, it is more worthwhile to examine popular film criticism and discuss its influence in the past century. This article is a very brief history of...

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How the internet killed film criticism

Film criticism is dead. At least that’s what traditionalists would have you believe. If education and experience in the field of writing no longer carry the same gravitas as previously, what are the criteria? The Internet swept in and levelled the playing field, giving anyone with an opinion a voice, creating a conundrum for those whose job it is to render an informed one. Of all the major advancements brought about by the Internet, blogging is the one that has, arguably, had the largest impact on film criticism. Since everyone has an opinion, and blogs and social media allow...

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A field of tomatoes: how to keep film criticism fresh in the Information Age

Take a look at the box office totals from this summer’s movie season, and one may conclude that the film critic played a mighty part. Fantastic Four—clobbered by critics—couldn’t even reach the top of a tepid August weekend. Lukewarm notices couldn’t help Aloha connect with audiences, as the film barely reached the US$20,000,000mark in its run. (The film’s budget? $37,000,000.) Remember that heavily promoted nostalgia fest with Adam Sandler predicted to be a summer blockbuster? Pixels now hovers near the US$75,000,000 mark in North America, due partly to disastrous reviews. That’s only slightly more than this spring’s already forgotten sequel...

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Is it possible for a superfan to be a good critic?

We live in the age of the superfan (often known as fanboys or fangirls).Massive movie franchises based upon comic books dominate our theatre screens. Old fan properties from the ’80s and ’90s, like Jurassic Park and Star Wars, are being revived to feed future generations of geeks. Events like San Diego Comic Con have swallowed the industry whole, forcing studios to compete with each other for the intense adoration of zealous but hypercritical uber-fans. Sequels, adaptations, remakes and reboots of genre films top the year-end box office. This focused targeting of fanboys/girls has overwhelmed the movie industry and film criticism has drastically...

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A day in the life of a film critic (or: don’t quit your day job)

Being a film critic is a fantastic job, with great perks. I get to watch numerous films and am frequently able to speak with their creators. I’ve been lucky enough to converse with some of my favourite actors, actresses and directors. I’ve also been able to watch a number of movies I never would have seen had it not been for my job at Toronto Film Scene. Of course, sitting around watching movies isn’t the only thing I do. There’s also the critic part of the job, where I need to intelligently write about said films. To make things...

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Find your film critic soulmate

Most people ignore film critics simply out of a perceived lack of choice. Not everyone will gravitate towards the critic that works for their regional newspaper (or the wire service they crib from, because it’s cheap) for a variety of reasons. They might not like the writing. They might not like the breadth of coverage. There might be overtly political and sociological disagreements. They might think the author is talking down to their personal tastes in an unnecessarily snarky way. Equally, there’s so much film writing on the Internet that the prospect of trying to find a writer worth...

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CineAction: a look at the criticism of Robin Wood

York University has a different history compared to its older downtown sister, the University of Toronto (UofT). UofT dates back to the 19th century, its downtown campus integrating organically with the surrounding community, Gothic buildings on tree-lined boulevards side-by-side with Edwardian houses and public schools. York University, however, was purposely planned and created to serve Toronto’s booming population. When its main campus opened in the mid-’60s, it was vastly removed from Toronto’s core, a geographically large field with its few Brutalist buildings situated far apart. To the east were oil refineries. To the west it was geographically isolated from...

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