Will Osterweil has posted a description of a New Film Criticism over at The New Inquiry. It is full of such doozies as:

“For most major film releases, marketing costs a quarter to a third of the production budget; this money goes to establishing a film’s ubiquity and “cultural relevance” while masking its inadequacies, inviting critics to regard it as a window to the psychological state of the American people, and regard themselves as insightful for doing so.”


“Similarly, the ideological function of Avatar was not in its neo-nativist Last of the Mohicans fantasy, but rather in convincing everyone it was a groundbreaking act of cinematic innovation, despite the fact that the current 3-D trend is a revival of 1950s cinema technology. The film current was such that even a levelheaded (if mediocre) critic like New York magazine’s David Edelstein claimed director James Cameron “has an old-fashioned command of composition: strong foregrounds and layers of texture and movement reaching back into the frame and down to the teeniest pixel.” What? That more or less describes any shot taken by a motion-picture camera with a wide depth of field. While critics debated whether the 3-D in Avatar was good or bad, and whether Cameron is a liberal neo-colonialist or a liberal eco-pacifist, the movie earned $2.8 billion at the box office. If Avatar was a country, it would have a higher GDP than the 30 poorest ones. Before DVD sales. This is the film current at work.”


“By considering the product of thousands of film workers’ alienated labor the creative expression of a single director, film criticism champions managers, not the art of cinema. Film criticism must dismiss the concept of auteurs and understand the film as a mass-produced object. Just like a cheap beer on a hot day or a fast food burger on a long road trip, entertainment cinema can be truly satisfying, but do we discuss a Big Mac the same way we talk about a three-star meal? Do we enjoy a Bud by the same criteria of a perfectly crafted Belgian beer? So why do we talk about Thor the same way we talk about Carlos?”

and finally

“The new film criticism I propose is not an end in itself but a step toward what would ideally be the end of film criticism and the advent of a world where no one requires the mediation of an expert between themselves and aesthetic experience, where audience and filmmaker are not semipermanent class positions but rather malleable, shifting roles. This trend has already emerged in an impoverished form on YouTube and other video sharing sites, on which anyone can create and share their own work, including remixes or response videos, distribute the works of other filmmakers, and, of course, comment. We must push it to completion. The new criticism will be completed when film is not an “industry,” and everyone who loves cinema can make films of their own.”

I like this idea that the goal of the film critic is to eventually work themselves out of a job, such that by simply offering people good film writing they will eventually be able to do the work of understanding and talking  about cinema on their own. But I am not on board with the final pronouncement. I don’t want to make films. I just want to watch them.