Sunday, March 22, 2009

What is the Future of Film Criticism?

Now that everyone can have a facebook page, any joe nobody can create his own blog, and anyone can write a review. And critics are scared — and they should be. The downfall of print newspapers has resulted in the layoff of many working film critics. The smart critics have created blogs or sites of their own, and are beginning to learn that they need to hustle to make it in the new media world. It’s no longer about just turning in your completed review, it is now about engaging and interacting with readers to promote your content. Writers now have to become salesmen.

The old world was static; you read what was fed to you by your local news publisher. But the new world is on demand. It’s a scary world for movie critics becuase readers now have a choice between thousands of possible “professional” and “non professional” critics. And at the end of the day, the person with the most film knowledge or best written review isn’t usually the winner. In this web 2.5 world, readers are looking to connect with writers who more closely mirror their tastes and opinions, while being able to provide context to stuff within the film that they normally might have missed or didn’t understand.

People are reading reviews after movies more now than they are before seeing a film. The future of film recommendation is not movie reviews. Facebook apps will be able to closely tell you what movie you should see on Friday based on data gathered from your most in sync friends and strangers, tastewise. As the algorithms evolve and become more complex, they will become more accurate and personalized.

And many might point out that the medium of reviews is also in free fall. Blogs have created a world where opinion and information merge together. I know more people who claim they don’t read movie reviews than will admit that they do. But those same people read three or four websites where opinionated bloggers (we'll call them bloggers for the sake of using one term, but the term also applies to websites like SLASHFilm, CHUD or AICN) give their thoughts on every little casting announcement, trailer, photo…etc. And while these readers claim that they do not read reviews, they do come to these sites for a relatable, informed, contextualized opinion.

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