Off Topic: Film Criticism in the Age of the Internet

Rob Smith robixsmash at
Mon Sep 22 22:50:11 EDT 2008

Helo everyone.

This is not a Japanese film specific topic, but since so many of you work
for newspapers (and I do, too, but as a music journalist, not film -- I just
have a personal website to write about film on), run serious websites
(Midnight Eye,, etc) or have had books on film published (and
I'm sure there are some other bloggers out there, too), I'm curious on what
the general take on the topic is from this list.

"Film Criticism in the Age of the Internet: A Critical Symposium"
*Cineaste,* Vol. 33 No.4 (Fall 2008)

Some interesting points, I thought:

"There have been a few examples of Internet criticism making an impact on
American film culture. It's aided the rise of South Korean cinema and
mumblecore," says Steve Erickson of Gay City News.
-To bring it on topic a little bit, I think this is also true of the
"extreme" Japanese films and filmmakers, especially the likes of Takashi
Miike and Hideo Nakataa. They were both cult on the internet long before
Hollywood stepped in to remake or import their films. It's also true of
smaller, or dramatic, directors like Shunji Iwai, Satoshi Miki, or Shinobu
Yaguchi and had a definite impact concerning older, more obscure directors
getting a spotlight, like Mikio Naruse before Criterion and BFI had put any
of his films out on DVD, or before the Film Forum had their retrospective a
few years ago.
(I choose to not mention anime here, but the internet has clearly had the
biggest imapct on that world than any other.)

This is by Self-styled Siren: "Criticism at the big media outlets usually
has been release-driven, geared to reviewing a new movie in theaters or on
DVD. Bloggers write about whatever we please, which I assume is why some
professional critics blog on the side. In my case, the movies I care about
are long, long past their release date. At the moment there's no mainstream
print publication that will pay me to write about Jean Negulesco or three
Titanic movies because I happen to feel like it."
-This mirrors my own opinions, but I also can't help but feel a twinge of
guilt for having my website when the likes of Nathan Lee from the Voice get
fired (especially when the likes of Rex Reed and Jeffrey Lyons are safely
tucked into bed at night with their job security). It's something in my job
as a music writer that I absolutely hate: if I get a CD in the mail a week
late, I can't do anything about it. I love the freedom on my own website
where I can write about whatever the hell movie from whatever year I feel
like writing about, even if I don't necessarily take it as seriously (or
shape it as much) as I would if I were writing a print review.

J. Hoberman sums it up best, though, I think: "On the one hand, blogs are
spontaneous and unedited; on the other, blogs are spontaneous and unedited."


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