Off Topic: Film Criticism in the Age of the Internet

Mark Mays tetsuwan at
Tue Sep 23 07:10:18 EDT 2008

I'm pretty much in your boat Rob. I do music writing for print primarily
these days (alt. weeklies squeezing out writers and all) and after focusing
on music and before two kids I was blogging about film a lot. I'm on the
same yahoo group as Steve (so are over half the people interviewed for the
piece, hmmm) and the topic has come up there a couple of times and Ridley's
mentioned it as well. I'd take issue with Steve saying internet *criticism*
aided the rise of South Korean cinema, extreme Japanese film makers, etc. I
think it was more Internet chatter than criticism - high tech word of mouth
- like posts on the now thoroughly discredited usenet groups. Internet
critics, especially those of the Japanese film is dead variety, came late to
that party. There are exceptions of course, and I'm thinking as I type this
were those exceptions, like Midnight Eye, at the root of all the success. I
mean, should Roy Lee and Nakata be giving Tom and Jasper a cut of the
profits (you two or three can chime in and take credit if you like)?


The Net has definitely made it easier to see those kinds of movies, whether
you're downloading or ordering the cheap HK dvds. Having that kind of access
probably pushed my writing career along a little faster b/c when Pulse,
Jin-Roh, etc finally hobbled their way here I was the guy who knew about the
stuff already. It's the access to the material that is more significant to
me than criticism or chatter, at least in terms of the on-topic works for


Writing for an alt.weekly I could, if the pitch was good enough, write about
a wide variety of topics so, for little pay, I could write about an obscure
director if indeed we were going to be able to see that film a year after it
hit NY/LA/Chi.


Reed and Lyons only have security because they've been around longer and
were in the right place at the right time. Lee definitely bounced back from
the nastiness at the alt.weekly god paper, and if he choses can blog at will
(does he?). 


As to the larger topic, I think Theo is salient on the impact of Internet


Never knew D'Angelo was a one time Net only self published type dude. I'm
now 40% less intimidated by him.



From: owner-KineJapan at
[mailto:owner-KineJapan at] On Behalf Of Rob Smith
Sent: Monday, September 22, 2008 9:50 PM
To: KineJapan at
Subject: Off Topic: Film Criticism in the Age of the Internet


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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