Not a Club, but a Conversation

Following the lead of Slate’s Movie Club, a group of five movie bloggers — including Snob favorite Liz Penn of The High Sign — has started The Conversation.

Because it so irritated me in the Movie Club and pops up again here, I must address a comment by Salon’s Stephanie Zacharek, who said:

A critic’s reasons for loving/hating something (as long as they’re true gut reasons and not just a desperate grab at hipness) are where anything interesting about that critic are going to lie — as long as they’re well-supported and well-argued and, again, come from the heart.

This attitude is first and foremost a contradiction, that film criticism must be (a) knee-jerk and (b) thoughtful, backed up, and reasoned. Secondly, it doesn’t allow that after consideration, time, and analysis, a critic might change his or her mind. I certainly didn’t like Cronenberg’s Spider the first time I saw it, but once I discarded my expectations and met the movie on its own terms, I learned to appreciate its considerable joys.

It is important to acknowledge and deal with gut reactions in film criticism, but it’s also essential to get past them.

Update: It’s a damn fine discussion, too, not nearly so insular as Slate’s and covering some really interesting territory — things that actually affect consumers of movies rather than critics.

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