Notes: Being a Film Critic

Adrian Martin, 2005: “The role of the film critic is to write well, or speak well. A critic is someone who I think should try to tell a story about the film that they’re reviewing. And the story can be the story of their response to it, the story of their coming to understand that film, coming to a position on it.”

Julie Rigg, 2005: “I see the film critic’s role as to provide a response to a film and a context for it. I think context is really important.”

Anthony Lane: “The primary task of the critic, and no one has surpassed Miss Kael in this regard, is the recreation of texture, filing a sensory report of the kind of experience they will have if they decide to buy a ticket.”

Adrian Martin, 2005: “I think that one very particular thing that a film critic can do — it’s part of the task of writing — is description. But a very particular kind of description. I don’t mean plot description. I think far too many film reviews have far too much plot synopsis in them. Which is boring. I mean, who wants to read five paragraphs of plot synopsis? If I want to see the plot I’ll go see the film. I want the motor of that plot, I want something about the hook of that plot to get me interested. But, beyond that, I want something that is more a quality of what I think of as a sort of sensuous description of the film, of the rhythm of the film, the color of the film, of the mood itself, of the changing moods of the film. Something that gives you a feeling, a really experiential feeling of the film that you try to translate into your own language.”