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Film Critic Catch-All
#1

So there's been a few previous threads about this over the years, but I thought it prudent to create a catch-all thread to encompass the many discussions that can be had from the world of film criticism.



My buddy MichaelM's comment about Drew McWeeny of HitFix over in the Godzilla thread got me to thinking about what critics I've loved in the past, who I love now, and why.



Drew, for instance, is definitely more of a populist film critic. He of course came to fame as Moriarty at Ain't It Cool News, a place known for mainstreaming and democratizing the everyman's perspective back in the late '90s. I can't say AICN does anything for me now, but I've followed Drew over to HitFlix and always respect his opinions.



Of course there's the dreaded Devin and the crew over at Badass Digest. I don't want to make this another Devin thread, but I will say I respect his opinions. He tends to be a contrarian, but a humanist contrarian that always takes the minority perspective, whether it be race or gender related, and argues from the perspective of the oppressed. I respect that, as it leads to actual unique perspectives being applied to film (his queer reading of Frozen was very insightful, and even though that interpretation caught on quick that's where I first encountered it).



Williamb's Movie Curiosities have been a great addition to CHUD, although I miss the days of Nick's humor and, of course, Franchise Me (sigh).



I lament the passing of the traditional publication critic. Of course I've read a lot of Pauline Kael and Susan Sontag, and Ebert will always be a god. For the love of Movies is a great documentary on Netflix Instant right now that gives a great overview of the history of the subject and engages with the changing tides that the Internet hath wrought.



So, who are some of your favorite critics, the first clicks you make and anticipate embargoes going down when it comes to upcoming movies?

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#2

Mike D'Angelo's probably my favorite critic working. Really intelligent and articulate reviews I enjoy reading even when I vehemently disagree with him. Peter Labuza's another one I enjoy reading. I peruse Jeff Wells' and David Poland's blogs (mostly for the infamous LexG) but other than that I don't really follow a lot of the geek sites like HitFix or Badass and I only occasionally read the "mainstream" critics post-Ebert.  Occasionally I'll watch Mark Kermode on YouTube but often I find the video format too limiting and vague to properly encapsulate a review.

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#3
AI like Kermode as well. Not so much because I always agree with him, but he's entertaining and has a consistent point of view. And I like how he'll go out of his way to champion things that no one else would bother sticking up for, like his long standing love of Zac Efron, and obscure 70’s teen drama Jeremy. Another plus is that he'll cover just about everything that comes out, right down to the most niche documentaries.

To be honest I've become a bit disillusioned with the world of internet 'geek' critics. When they first appeared they felt like movie fans standing apart from the establishment and making the most of a platform they'd never had before. Now they're institutions themselves I kind of wish a new movement would come and wash them away, or at least shake them out of complacency.

My problem with them is firstly that they all feel like the same breed of pushing-or-past-40 Kevin Smith types (though ironically they all hate Kevin Smith) with similar tastes and frames of reference. There's nothing wrong with serving a niche, but since their niche has gone squarely mainstream in the 00’s it's like they're just feeding directly into the franchise-obsessed feedback loop of modern blockbusters instead of leading the way to possible alternatives.

The other problem is that, unlike someone like Kermode whose job is just to show up every Friday and review whatever comes out that week, the culture of post-AICN geek critics is closely tied to the world of news, marketing and gossip. They need to generate hits, and to generate hits they need to cover the news that interests their readers, and to make their coverage stand out they need a strong angle on the news.

Again, that's not a crime, but it has the effect of skewing content towards the readers' depressingly narrow interests (superheroes and Star Wars will never be more than an article or two away), and also creates a situation where the critics are basically reviewing every piece of baggage surrounding a movie before they see the actual movie. I'm not convinced it's possible to go into a movie fresh and with an open mind when you've been doing that.

I get that that it's a hard world out there and they have to put food on their plates somehow, and I'm not saying they're all guilty of this stuff at all times. But just speaking as a reader it does often feel like these sites are trapped in a vicious circle where they can't stray too far from the same old fanboy stuff for fear of turning off the fanboys, even though the one thing fanboys could really do with is having their horizons broadened a bit. Oh well.
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#4

Mike and Jay at RedLetterMedia are the only film critics I consistently pay attention to. They seem to really love good movies and hate bad ones, and they don't have any (overt) agenda (i.e. they don't imagine themselves having a career in Hollywood).

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#5
A[quote name="Cylon Baby" url="/community/t/150685/film-critic-catch-all#post_3714480"]Mike and Jay at RedLetterMedia are the only film critics I consistently pay attention to. They seem to really love good movies and hate bad ones, and they don't have any (overt) agenda (i.e. they don't imagine themselves having a career in Hollywood).
[/quote]

Absolutely, and The Plinkett Prequel aren't just a gimmick. There's some seriously unique insight there.
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#6

Vern is probably the best critic for the merits of Action movies. His reviews do have a fair bit of Spoilers though.

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#7
Quote:

Originally Posted by nagboy92 View Post
 

Mike D'Angelo's probably my favorite critic working. Really intelligent and articulate reviews I enjoy reading even when I vehemently disagree with him. Peter Labuza's another one I enjoy reading. I peruse Jeff Wells' and David Poland's blogs (mostly for the infamous LexG)



Holy cow-- is LexG still around? I used to go to Poland's blog quite a lot and enjoyed his antics in the comments, but that place really seems to have dried up every time I've gone by there in recent years.



I've fallen out of reading most internet critics. There aren't many print ones that have stood out to me recently either. So I'll be coming in here for some recommendations.



When there is a movie I'm interested in, I like to go by Rotten Tomatoes and read the "rotten" reviews-- helps to lower my expectations. Plus, I love a well-written negative review.



I really miss Ebert on that score. He could dismantle a picture with great aplomb sometimes. His panning of "The Lovely Bones" is one of the best things I ever read by him, and I never even saw that movie.

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#8
Quote:

Originally Posted by nagboy92 View Post
 

Mike D'Angelo's probably my favorite critic working. Really intelligent and articulate reviews I enjoy reading even when I vehemently disagree with him. Peter Labuza's another one I enjoy reading. I peruse Jeff Wells' and David Poland's blogs (mostly for the infamous LexG) but other than that I don't really follow a lot of the geek sites like HitFix or Badass and I only occasionally read the "mainstream" critics post-Ebert.  Occasionally I'll watch Mark Kermode on YouTube but often I find the video format too limiting and vague to properly encapsulate a review.



I like Mike D'Angelo, but man is he completely tone-deaf on genre pictures.

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#9

Is there anyone at AICN still worth reading? Haven't been to that site for years.

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#10
Quote:

Originally Posted by felix View Post
 

Is there anyone at AICN still worth reading? Haven't been to that site for years.



Quint's still a solid reviewer.



The critics I'm enjoying most at the moment are the guys over at The Dissolve. Nathan Rabin in particular.

I might have been born yesterday sir, but I stayed up all night!
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#11
AMr. Beaks, I suppose.
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#12
Quote:

Originally Posted by Evi View Post


The critics I'm enjoying most at the moment are the guys over at The Dissolve. Nathan Rabin in particular.



Yeah, he's pretty good, and seems to have a similar frame of reference for things to me. I enjoyed his stuff on the AV Club-- I keep forgetting to follow all those guys over to the Dissolve.

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#13

I never heard of Dissolve until now.  I'll check it out.  In all honesty there isn't any one critic who is my go to any more since The Rog died.

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#14
Quote:

Originally Posted by Slim View Post
 


Holy cow-- is LexG still around? I used to go to Poland's blog quite a lot and enjoyed his antics in the comments, but that place really seems to have dried up every time I've gone by there in recent years.



I mostly follow him on Twitter nowadays. He has the tendency to go off on a tangent a bit too often but when he's talking about movies there's no non-pro better, especially when in comes to analyzing the visual aspect of film.

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#15

I second the writers at Dissolve.



Alexandra DuPont is one of my favorite critics. She specialized in genre films and wrote for DVDJournal (now defunct) and AICN. I always enjoyed her detailed commentaries and witty humor aimed at geek readers.



I don't always agree with their opinions, but James Berardinelli and Colin Jacobson (from DVD Movie Guide) are good writers that I also have respect for.

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#16
Quote:

Originally Posted by Ravi View Post
 


Alexandra DuPont is one of my favorite critics. She specialized in genre films and wrote for DVDJournal (now defunct) and AICN. I always enjoyed her detailed commentaries and witty humor aimed at geek readers.





Holy cow! Didn't she also write for BAD? Why do these writers migrate so often?

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#17
AI remember Ambler used to hate everything and tell us we were dumb.

He was more than a critic. He was a father.
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#18
Quote:

Originally Posted by Bradito View Post

I remember Ambler used to hate everything and tell us we were dumb.

He was more than a critic. He was a father.


I'm sure he still hates everything.

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#19
AThe topic of a certain Mr Devin Faraci has come up a fair bit recently, usually involving his shortcomings and followed by someone going "oh why do you guys still pay any attention to that guy?".

Well the answer is that, for whatever else you can say about him, when he's firing on all cylinders he can be insightful, cutting, clear headed and near-profound, as demonstrated here.
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#20

Not exactly perspicacious.  Although you gotta love a movie website writer who quotes Proust off the top to establish his street cred.

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#21

Just saw this thread, and came here to second/third the love for The Dissolve. Easily my favorite movie website now. The combination of reviews, history, features on lesser-known films, as well as a quality comments thread, bring me back every day. (When I'm not here, of course.)



I'm also a huge fan of Beaks. I pretty much only visit AICN when he writes. I also visit BAD for Devin and Phil and Evan Saathoff.

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#22

I hope Beaks is well compensated.  It kills me that he writes for the benefit of those AICN readers.  As Justin once said on a Chud podcast, those boards are The Worst.  Thankfully having chatted with him a couple of times he seems level-headed enough to not let the crap get to him.

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#23
AUgh, I barely got past the Proust quote in Devin's article before I realized I honestly don't give a fuck that some beardo is mad at people for still liking some things that they liked as a kid.
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#24

If you'd read the whole thing you'd see that wasn't really the point at all.


"Got concrete rhymes, been rappin' for ten years and

Even when I'm braggin', I'm bein' sincere"



"Teenage angst has paid off well/ Now I'm bored and old"


"Drunk as hell, but no throwin' up

Half way home and my pager still blowin' up"


"I'm tired of living all alone
yeah, nobody ever calls me on the phone
But when things start getting bad
I just play my music louder"





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#25

I doubt Beaks is "well compensated" given the financial troubles at AICN.

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#26
A[quote name="Fat Elvis" url="/community/t/150685/film-critic-catch-all#post_3737766"]If you'd read the whole thing you'd see that wasn't really the point at all.
[/quote]

Spoiler alert!
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#27
Quote:

Originally Posted by Subotai View Post
 

I hope Beaks is well compensated.  It kills me that he writes for the benefit of those AICN readers.  As Justin once said on a Chud podcast, those boards are The Worst.  Thankfully having chatted with him a couple of times he seems level-headed enough to not let the crap get to him.


Easily the worst talkbacks outside of youtube.  I still have a soft spot for AICN (visit it daily) but it's a shell what it used to be.  Dissolve is really becoming the goto site with excellent article.  Same with AV.

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#28
Quote:

Originally Posted by Bradito View Post

Ugh, I barely got past the Proust quote in Devin's article before I realized I honestly don't give a fuck that some beardo is mad at people for still liking some things that they liked as a kid.


Actually, that was a really, really good article.  Read the whole thing again.

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#29
AI feel like Devin's readership has some form of Internet codependency.
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#30
AAs usual, I agree with Bradito on everything here.
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#31
AAs usual, I agree with Andre on everything here.
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#32
ASpeaking of Internet codependency, I think the only reason I haven't been following The Dissolve is out of loyalty to AV Club. They got poached bad.
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#33
AMeanwhile, I am very much looking forward to Life Itself, the Ebert documentary.
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#34
Quote:

Originally Posted by Hammerhead View Post

Speaking of Internet codependency, I think the only reason I haven't been following The Dissolve is out of loyalty to AV Club. They got poached bad.

The AV Club is plunging over the cliff. I still check it out regularly, but it's a little bit worse each time I visit.

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#35

The AV Club has descended into lists of stupid bullshit no one should care about.



"47 Actors Whose Performances Were Visibly Affected by Their Having Recently Contracted Herpes."



Random Roles is usually pretty interesting, though.

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