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Critics you respect apart from James 
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Post Critics you respect apart from James
Hi there,

I thought it would be interesting to hear from members about the other critics you read / watch. here's my contribution:

Roger Ebert
I have been reading / watching Roger Ebert for years and am the proud owner of several personal emails :-). I watched his show with Gene Siskel and later with Richard Roeper (who I do not respect). Roger has been very ill and since that event I think his reviews have become increasingly friendly with more 4 star ratings than ever before. However, I love the way he writes and the thoughts he has about movies related to life. He recently started a blog and for me, it's crucial reading. It's not always about movies.

Mark Kermode
He is the main film reviewer at the BBC in the UK. He's known in my homeland for very strong opinions that can translate into complete rants against film makers actors and movies. He's very smart with a PhD and leans towards horror movies as a favorite. You can listen to him on a weekly podcast with Simon Mayo. It is often hilarious as they give nicknames to many actors such as Huge Action, Ikea Knightley, Keanununu, Nicole Kindling, et al. he also has a video blog posting on the BBC site every few days. probably my favorite reviewer film critic becaue he's so outspoken and simply in love with cinema. His rants are infamous videos on YouTube.

Filmspotting
Matty and Adam put up a podcast of about an hour each Friday from Chicago. They focus more on independent and high brow foreign cinema. They are very thoughtful but also indulge in a witty banter that is much fun. The show typically starts with the week's big review. They then massacre a script in a fun segment where you have to guess the movie. Then it will be listener feedback. After that you get another review from a movie marathon. they are currently doing "Angry Young Men" - British cinema of the sixties. They occasionally have interviews, usually with directors.

SF Chronicle
I disagree with Mick LaSalle very regularly. However, his arguments are always really interesting and he's a recognized expert on early and silent cinema. He also has the strangest podcast that comes out each Friday. It's an acquired taste and involves chatting about emails and phone calls with occasional reviews.

I have evolved over the past few years away from reading and TV to listening to podcasts. It's more fun and interactive.

Rob


Mon Feb 02, 2009 10:49 pm
Post Re: Critics you respect apart from James
I have a blog on this...hint, hint but since I don't have much respect for JoBlo, Arrow and Chris Bumbay I'll just say Ebert and Richard Schieb.


Mon Feb 02, 2009 11:09 pm
Post Re: Critics you respect apart from James
I follow the following critics: Roger Ebert, Emanuel Levy, and Brad Brevet. From time to time, I read Peter Travers, A.O. Scott, Michael Phillips, Mick LaSalle, and Pablo Villaca. Ebert's great, despite being a softy nowadays. He's still a legend. Levy's a great film critic and a great Oscarologist, and he always sees stuff early. I disagree with Brevet a lot, but he writes a lot of interesting articles. I usually disregard most of his reviews but read everything else. As far as the others go, they're interesting. Travers, Scott, and Phillips are cool. LaSalle is a horrible film critic. He has too much agenda in his content nowadays and it bugs me (though he's not as bad as Armond White). His points of view are what keep me reading, though, so have at it, Hoss. Villaca's great, and we usually agree, but I can't read his stuff on a proficient level, with it being in another language and all.


Tue Feb 03, 2009 12:17 am
Post Re: Critics you respect apart from James
James is number 1 but...

Dr. Frank Swietek - a harsh critic who sees a lot of film. I like how he is able to connect any film he sees to some unknown movie that came out during the 70's.

Dustin Putman (The Movie boy)- great looking site and good writing, but he lacks consistency in opinion, if that makes any sense at all.

The guys over at Slant Magazine, especially Ed Gonzalez and Eric Henderson. I disagree with them a lot but when I agree, boy do I agree.

And Ken Fox, who is the critic with whom I have the greatest affinity in taste with. Too bad he is unemployed now (TV Guide fired him).


Tue Feb 03, 2009 12:27 am
Post Re: Critics you respect apart from James
It used to be Ebert 1, and Berardinelli and others tied at 2. I think James has moved to #1 for me now with Ebert, David Ansen, and Kenneth Turan close behind.


Tue Feb 03, 2009 1:48 am
Post Re: Critics you respect apart from James
Ebert is the best and my favorite, and it's not even close (no offense, Mr. Berardinelli). Sure, he's gotten loose on the star ratings (and as admitted so), but from a writing standpoint, from his weekly reviews to his Great Movies section to the rest of his film commentary, no one, living or dead, writes about movies in a more perceptive, informed and intelligent way.

I read Berardinelli every week, as well as David Denby. Everyone else is pretty sporadic.


Tue Feb 03, 2009 2:20 am
Post Re: Critics you respect apart from James
Shade wrote:
Ebert is the best and my favorite, and it's not even close (no offense, Mr. Berardinelli). Sure, he's gotten loose on the star ratings (and as admitted so), but from a writing standpoint, from his weekly reviews to his Great Movies section to the rest of his film commentary, no one, living or dead, writes about movies in a more perceptive, informed and intelligent way.

I read Berardinelli every week, as well as David Denby. Everyone else is pretty sporadic.


Shade

I love Roger Ebert, but also appreciate the Filmspotting guys as they present a more dynamic and youthful view. Kermode is pure anarchy!

Have you read Ebert's blog. It's a weekly article about old cars, life, creationism, cooking and anything that takes his fancy. It's sensational.

Rob


Tue Feb 03, 2009 3:20 am
Post Re: Critics you respect apart from James
Don't usually bother with any besides James, Ebert and Jim Schembri


Tue Feb 03, 2009 3:45 am
Post Re: Critics you respect apart from James
Roger Ebert. He seems to be the only one aside from James who I will consider knows what he is talking about, but I disagree a lot more with him than I do with James' assessments. I have a hard time forgetting his and Siskel's war cry that the slasher film was sick and should be punished for degrading women...

I think as a person who's job is to critique movies you need to be able to see things for what they are and leave as much personal tastes out of the review, commentary etc. I read reviews for a mostly unbiased covering of what is in the film; the good and bad, not to hear about personal diatribes. Unless that is the intent of a specific article.

That being said, I think Ebert does a great job at reviewing and I also believe he has moved on from those old days. I read Reelviews on recommendation from a friend and found that James does a great job at staying on task as to why a movie is not so great or is superb, and not just a blanket 'this sucks' statement that you get with others. He also doesn't get on any bandwagons, he stays true to his critical eye, as does Ebert.


Tue Feb 03, 2009 2:42 pm
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Post Re: Critics you respect apart from James
Shade wrote:
Ebert is the best and my favorite, and it's not even close (no offense, Mr. Berardinelli). Sure, he's gotten loose on the star ratings (and as admitted so), but from a writing standpoint, from his weekly reviews to his Great Movies section to the rest of his film commentary, no one, living or dead, writes about movies in a more perceptive, informed and intelligent way.


I tend to disregard Ebert's star ratings. It's the writing that counts and, if anything, he has become a better writer in recent years. I think now that he has lost his voice, he puts that much more effort in expressing himself through writing.

I believe that one of the reasons he's "softer" on films than he used to be is that two near-death experiences (which is what he had) and a lot of time spent in hospitals around other seriously ill people has altered his perception of life and the human experience. In that sense, it's a little unfair to compare the old star ratings to the new ones.

Star ratings are really an artifact, anyway. Critics use them because they are important from a marketing and publicity standpoint. If I did away with them, I would lose thousands of readers as well as my "favored" places on mrqe and rotten tomatoes.


Tue Feb 03, 2009 4:52 pm
Profile WWW
Post Re: Critics you respect apart from James
James Berardinelli wrote:
Shade wrote:
Ebert is the best and my favorite, and it's not even close (no offense, Mr. Berardinelli). Sure, he's gotten loose on the star ratings (and as admitted so), but from a writing standpoint, from his weekly reviews to his Great Movies section to the rest of his film commentary, no one, living or dead, writes about movies in a more perceptive, informed and intelligent way.


I tend to disregard Ebert's star ratings. It's the writing that counts and, if anything, he has become a better writer in recent years. I think now that he has lost his voice, he puts that much more effort in expressing himself through writing.

I believe that one of the reasons he's "softer" on films than he used to be is that two near-death experiences (which is what he had) and a lot of time spent in hospitals around other seriously ill people has altered his perception of life and the human experience. In that sense, it's a little unfair to compare the old star ratings to the new ones.

Star ratings are really an artifact, anyway. Critics use them because they are important from a marketing and publicity standpoint. If I did away with them, I would lose thousands of readers as well as my "favored" places on mrqe and rotten tomatoes.



James

Roger Ebert's writing is wonderful and actually at its best on his journal / blog

What is mrqe?

Rob


Tue Feb 03, 2009 7:06 pm
Post Re: Critics you respect apart from James
James Berardinelli wrote:
Star ratings are really an artifact, anyway. Critics use them because they are important from a marketing and publicity standpoint. If I did away with them, I would lose thousands of readers as well as my "favored" places on mrqe and rotten tomatoes.


Exactly. And yes, Ebert's ratings mean little to me anymore. I also strongly agree that his writing has become better and better over the last couple years.

I share your feelings about star ratings -- and I understand that you are not in a position to do away with them. I do wonder, however, the thinking behind the "snippet" review that appears on the main page beneath the star rating? Is your purpose in that intended to give at least an overview of your thoughts to those who never click through to the review? As a loyal reader, I glance at it and at times it intrigues me, but I feel that if I were a Reelviews skimmer, I'd have no reason for reading the whole review. I don't have a problem with them, and I certainly don't think you've sold out or anything, I'm just wondering what the thinking is behind them.


And Robert: MRQE is the Movie Review Query Engine. It purports to be the "web's largest online directory of movie reviews." It's been around a bit and constantly goes through changes, but has gained some steam and significance recently. www.mrqe.com


Tue Feb 03, 2009 7:11 pm
Post Re: Critics you respect apart from James
Shade wrote:
James Berardinelli wrote:
Star ratings are really an artifact, anyway. Critics use them because they are important from a marketing and publicity standpoint. If I did away with them, I would lose thousands of readers as well as my "favored" places on mrqe and rotten tomatoes.


Exactly. And yes, Ebert's ratings mean little to me anymore. I also strongly agree that his writing has become better and better over the last couple years.

I share your feelings about star ratings -- and I understand that you are not in a position to do away with them. I do wonder, however, the thinking behind the "snippet" review that appears on the main page beneath the star rating? Is your purpose in that intended to give at least an overview of your thoughts to those who never click through to the review? As a loyal reader, I glance at it and at times it intrigues me, but I feel that if I were a Reelviews skimmer, I'd have no reason for reading the whole review. I don't have a problem with them, and I certainly don't think you've sold out or anything, I'm just wondering what the thinking is behind them.


And Robert: MRQE is the Movie Review Query Engine. It purports to be the "web's largest online directory of movie reviews." It's been around a bit and constantly goes through changes, but has gained some steam and significance recently. http://www.mrqe.com



MRQE - Oh no, another movie related film site to waste more time on :-)
Thanks Shade
Rob


Tue Feb 03, 2009 7:17 pm
Post Re: Critics you respect apart from James
Ebert.

His writing is unparalleled and yes, his blog is an absolute treasure trove. And his readers and commentators are always intelligent well-written people. His star ratings have always been more generous than Jim's. Based on the structure of the site, ReelViews gives a star rating while keeping in mind all other movies from all the other years. Ebert's star system seems to cater more towards immediate viewing films throughout a year. That's why he has a Great Movies section: to really differentiate between the 4-star movies and the REAL 4-star movies.

That said, his star ratings are expendable. His writing is not. With the loss of his voice, he seems to have given all the more effort into his writing.

Other than Ebert and James, I sporadically read everyone else. I read a lot of Jim Emerson and his blog mainly because I think his eye for what the camera captures is superior. He is very technically proficient in the language of film as "motion pictures."


Thu Feb 05, 2009 6:13 pm
Post Re: Critics you respect apart from James
James Berardinelli wrote:
Shade wrote:
Ebert is the best and my favorite, and it's not even close (no offense, Mr. Berardinelli). Sure, he's gotten loose on the star ratings (and as admitted so), but from a writing standpoint, from his weekly reviews to his Great Movies section to the rest of his film commentary, no one, living or dead, writes about movies in a more perceptive, informed and intelligent way.


Star ratings are really an artifact, anyway. Critics use them because they are important from a marketing and publicity standpoint. If I did away with them, I would lose thousands of readers as well as my "favored" places on mrqe and rotten tomatoes.


James,

I have been thinking about your star ratings comment and I have to disagree.

We both know that people are going to look first at the star rating to get a general impression of good versus bad (Siskel was right in his thumb perspective!). I actually think they are important as a general barometer, though not to be analysed to the nth degree.

If I see a 3.5 star rating movie pop up on your home page my attention is immediately alerted. 2 stars gets the old ho hum reaction. less makes me look to avoid.

I am sure that there are many people like me who do not read reviews before watching a movie and then come back to them afterwards. So when i visit a critic i respect, the star rating is a good guide.

BTW - The SF Chronicles sleeping man is the best of them all :-) From an empty deserted theater seat to asleep, to alert, to clapping to screaming out loud while standing on your seat. Quite lovely.

http://www.sfgate.com/eguide/movies/reviews/

Rob


Thu Feb 05, 2009 6:29 pm
Post Re: Critics you respect apart from James
I (obviously) love James' writings and visit his site the most often of any critic online, although Ebert is a very close second, and I do believe him to be the best pure writer of the entire lot of film critics. I enjoy Desson Thomson's work on occasion, and I think that a recommendation from Jonathan Rosenbaum is a rarity which is usually well-earned and substantial in and of itself. I tend to ignore critics otherwise, unless they have posted a review for a film that nobody else has or I find thier opinion to be interestingly contradictory to my own - allowing that it be well-written and at least partly logical.


Thu Feb 05, 2009 6:45 pm
Post Re: Critics you respect apart from James
Berardinelli is at the top along with Ebert.

I like checking out Walter Chaw's smart, by pretentious, profanity laced reviews. I think Stephanie Zacharek is a great writer. Kyle Smith is good when I want to see a conservative take on a flick.


Sat Feb 14, 2009 4:45 pm
Post Re: Critics you respect apart from James
Ebert is so irrelevant by this point that it's shocking...


Sat Feb 14, 2009 5:49 pm
Post Re: Critics you respect apart from James
What I look for in film criticism isn't an attempt to objectively rate the film's quality, nor an opinion that I'm guaranteed to agree with every single time. I look for well-written articles that glean something interesting and insightful from the film.

I appreciate the logic and the "everyman" perspective that James brings to the table. Roger Ebert is an endless font of film knowledge and experience, and has a razor-sharp wit to boot. I enjoy Paul Schrader's film journalism, even if his grad school work often strikes a negative tone and his more recent work is scant. (Understandably, more of his time is spent making movies than evaluating them.)

Perhaps the only critic who I've genuinely disliked in recent years is Peter Traverse, mainly because he can't seem to decide whether he's offering scholarly criticism or consumer reports. There's nothing wrong with either category when kept separate, but they don't mix well.


Sat Feb 14, 2009 6:05 pm
Post Re: Critics you respect apart from James
Kermode, definitely. He's passionate, knowledgable, articulate, and wildly opinionated. And given his penchant for epic rants like the ones over Pirates of the Caribbean (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=p6Q5FESHol0) he's hard to beat for sheer entertainment value.

And Ebert, of course.


Sat Feb 14, 2009 6:32 pm
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