Film Critics Confidential

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James Franco has just published a book entitled ‘Actors Anonymous’. In it, he describes the mantras that actors adhere to in pursuit of creating a character, in putting truth on screen, whatever that is.

Getting to the catering truck early is not among them.

Screaming at a director to disguise the bender you had the night before is not among them.

Confusing truth with effect is not among them.

It occurred to me that film critics should describe the code by which they practice their art. Film critics are not predisposed to do this. I of course do not describe myself as a film critic. I am a movie reviewer.

  1. A film critic will get to a movie in his or her own damn time. That is usually early, but there are those who leave it to the last minute and expect to get their own favourite seat.
  2. Film critics have favourite seats in viewing theatres. If they do not get this seat, expect a bad review.
  3. Film critics cannot be bought by alcohol and sandwiches – although they do enjoy them.
  4. Film critics miss the sandwiches offered by film companies – you’re lucky if you just get crisps.
  5. Film critics enjoy Christmas parties – the final destination of all those exotic snacks that they didn’t have in the preceding eleven months.
  6. Film critics don’t like screenings introduced by the director, or indeed facing them afterwards.
  7. Film critics mostly care about the running time of a film – and have been known to pronounce loudly at films over three hours in length.
  8. Film critics have their favourite adjectives, which are deployed in reviews like buses – sometimes never at all, then three at once.
  9. Film critics rarely read novels, though occasionally have stayed in the location where a film has been shot.
  10. Film critics never disparage other film critics, though they will write with vitriol about most other film industry professionals.
  11. Film critics know that when a screening is ‘full’, there is an 80% chance that the distributor or publicist doesn’t want them to review their film.
  12. A film critic knows that any film not put before them to review has no artistic merit whatsoever, is a complete waste of time, and an embarrassment to all concerned. These films are never ‘only appreciated by the paying public’ – the paying public feels ripped off as well.
  13. A film critic would rather interview a director than an actor. The public would rather read with an interview with an actor than a director. Film critics mostly avoid seeking interviews.
  14. Film critics would either like to do something else or else have a second job. The British Critics Circle does not recognise with critics with a second job. The British Critics Circle doesn’t really consist of critics. A ring doesn’t describe a finger.
  15. A film critic may have no knowledge of film history, but will always know where the exits are.
  16. Film critics never reveal which movies caused them to fall asleep at a screening. They usually have subtitles. Wine has been served beforehand.
  17. Films with Adam Sandler never end well.
  18. Film critics are not equipped to write about Bollywood movies. To do so, they would need to be accompanied by elderly parents and young children and ask each family member afterwards how they enjoyed the movie and whether they would let their son or daughter marry the leading lady or man. Usually, film critics may only bring one guest to a screening.
  19. Bang Bang, the Bollywood remake of Knight and Day, is superior to the Tom Cruise-Cameron Diaz movie in every way. The Indian stars are far more attractive.
  20. A true film critic never watches a movie on a plane.
  21. A true film critic will never praise a movie made by Menachem Golan and Yoram Globus or any of the output of Lloyd Kaufman.
  22. A film critic enjoys having their name on a movie poster and only sometimes admits it.
  23. Film critics list their occupation in their passport as journalist, although they rarely unearth truth or achieve objectivity.
  24. The film critic’s ambition is to be known by one’s surname alone. Kael and Kermode have done it. Few film critics have thought of changing their surname to Katty.
  25. If Catherine Deneuve is France; why is Alicia Vikander not Sweden?
  26. Film critics love lists but struggle to avoid listlessness.

I could carry on – maybe I will.

About the author


Independent film critic who just wants to witter on about movies every so often. Very old (by Hollywood standards).

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