The Future of Film Criticism: School or No?

According to a recent article by Tom Shone of The Guardian titled “Should Film Critics Care About Cinematic Technique?” there is an ongoing debate in all of cinema about the future of film criticism. This debate entails whether or not film critics for magazines, blogs, and newspapers should be required to undergo some form of formal film education in order to better understand things such as, but not limited to, camera work, the film which a movie is shot on, and direction styles. As it currently stands most critics stick to things that do not require a film-school education to critique; these are things such as the acting style and the storyline/plot of the film.

Current critics argue that if they are required to go to film school, through the understanding of the work that is put into each individual shot created by the artistic vision of the director that they may not feel comfortable criticizing as harshly on the more trivial things such as acting. This would stem from an appreciation of everything that the actor, director, and camera worker had to put into each individual frame to create the piece, despite how amazing or poorly acted this scene, let alone all the scenes, might be. Still other critics claim that they should only have the experience of seeing a movie once, without a full understanding of how everything works, because this is the experience the audience would get, and let’s face it: that is who is going to be reading these reviews.

The counter argument states that these things that are learned in a formal film education are what make up the, as said by Matt Zoller Seitz of New York Magazine, “nuts and bolts” of film. To know what goes into the making of a film is to fully understand and comprehend what it means to have that movie. In a day and age where we, as a people, are overrun with technology, we can use the internet to find out anything and everything in a plot summary of a film even before it is released. If a critic is able to tell the audience, which is a key word in both sides of the debate, what makes the cinematography of this particular film in comparison to all other films, whether good or bad, could completely change the outcome of how people see that particular piece of art.

The fact that a film is just that, a work of art, is often forgotten. This begs the question ‘would people actually care to know how a certain scene was shot?’. Unfortunately art isn’t what sells cinema. A strong line of well-known actors, whether it be for their looks or their talent, a major producer, and an at least pseudo-entertaining script is all that is required to catch the attention of the typical movie goer. So then, is it really necessary for critics to write about things such as camera angles or visual effects? Would the general public read it, or would it be another student loan that unfortunately in today’s society went unnoticed?

Article by Krista Schrader

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