Friday, July 14, 2006

Ebert's Rules of Movie Reviewing

As you may know, Roger Ebert, the only movie critic I've ever really trusted* ("enjoyed" is an entirely different thing), has recently undergone emergency surgery to remove new cancer growths. Reports say he's doing fine, but that's what they say about celebrities regardless of how they're doing. Since this is a recurrence, I'm not optimistic.
*Well, Siskel was good, too; and I like Lisa Schwarzbaum of "Entertainment Weekly" and Harry Knowles of Ain't It Cool News, though you have to put the fanboy/geekoid filter for him.

Even more ominous, his paper is publishing career summary kind of stuff.

Anyway, one of them contained something I thought was pretty cool. So in effort to make some lemonade out of the situation, here are Ebert's rules of movie reviewing, which I agree with entirely:

- Whether or not you write in the first person, criticism is all opinion, and your review is your opinion. I am very comfortable with first person.

- Remember that not all movies have the same audience, and therefore not all reviews have the same readers. Write in a way that seems appropriate to each film. That doesn't mean writing up or writing down, but writing in a way relevant to the film.

- Feel free to place a film in context with other films and other works by the same director. Films are not born in a void.

- Remember that your readers are not being paid to go to the movies, and you are. Do not give a movie the equivalent of a 4-star or 3.5-star review unless you personally believe that if you were not a film critic, it would have been worth your own time and money to leave the house, go to the theater, and buy a ticket.


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