Wednesday, August 4, 2010

What's Wrong with Film Critics?

Critic Steven Jay Schneider has a book out, 1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die. "El Cid" isn't one of them.

"El Cid" isn't listed in the New York Times Guide to the Best 1,000 Movies Ever Made. It's not in The Greatest Movies Ever by Gail Kinn and Jim Piazza, or the Time Out 1,000 Films to Change Your Life. Critic Leonard Maltin gives "El Cid" three stars out of a possible five.

Take the thousand-plus movies on the various best lists-- "El Cid" provides a better movie experience than any of them. That's not an exaggeration. "El Cid" is better as a pure movie, as well as being a moving and thought-provoking work of art, with incredible relevance to the world we live in now.

What's going on?

Once a critical consensus is reached about a work, the consensus becomes set in stone. Later generations of critics parrot the judgement without thinking about it.

Examine the two "Best Picture" Oscar-winners from 1960 and 1961, the time period of "El Cid." Both "The Apartment" and "West Side Story" are dated, yet remain highly rated. "El Cid" is a better movie than either of them.

What's wrong with film critics?

When criticism becomes disconnected from sense and reality, when it's not able to state or even see the obvious, then it has no usefulness to the art. This is the state of criticism today in arts from literature to movies-- the critics' loyalty isn't to art, isn't to truth, isn't to sense, but instead to themselves and their station.

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