Reader response wrap-up

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Though I promise I wasn’t fishing for compliments when I asked for examples of movies you’d seen (and loved) solely on my recommendation, it was nice to read some of the lovely testimonials that some of you posted.

You’ve convinced me! I’m not going to give up reviewing movies after all!

Just kidding. I wasn’t considering it anyway. I was contemplating suicide, though, and you’ve talked me out of that.

Just kidding! You haven’t talked me out of it.

(Just kidding.)

I was somewhat taken aback to see how many of you claimed not to make a move, film-wise, without first consulting me. That’s simultaneously the nicest compliment and worst curse that a film critic can get. “I always check with you first! So you’d better not let me down….”

No, seriously, I’m flattered that anyone puts stock in anything I say, and I hope the times I lead you astray are few and far between.

My first reaction on seeing all those comments was, “Wow! I need to take into account how much faith they have in me when I write my reviews!” But then I realized that was looking at it the wrong way.

Occasionally you see articles asking whether American film critics are “out of touch” with the general public. It’s usually at a time when some movie that all the critics hated has made $200 million, or when a highly touted critical darling has flopped.

But the question of critics being out of touch with the public suggests a misunderstanding of what a critic is supposed to do. It ain’t my job to reflect public opinion. That’s what theater polls and box office reports are for. A critic’s job is simply to report his own opinion of the movie, and to describe it well enough for readers to discern whether they would enjoy it. The only person a critic needs to be “in touch” with is himself. A critic who altered his opinions based on what he thought the general public would think would be useless.

So I’m glad some of you think I’m doing a good enough job of expressing my opinions to make me a dependable reviewer. As always, I welcome your mature, non-angry feedback.

(A final note: It was enlightening to see which movies I’d recommended that some of you hated. “Far From Heaven” and “Across the Universe” didn’t surprise me, since they’re very stylized, and you either go with it or you don’t. Some of the others, though … wow! Hating “Waitress” is like hating a chocolate chip cookie! And if you hated “Anchorman,” then maybe you should go back to your home on Whore Island. SO THERE.)

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