Sunday, May 03, 2009

steven soderbergh nails the critic's dilemma

Steven Soderbergh, a rather smart fellow, articulating the problem critics face when trying to write at length about movies or any other kind of art...
On the one hand, in theory, if you write about movies you can go on the Internet and write a 5,000-word piece on something if you're so moved. The question is whether anybody will get to word 500 before they go, 'Oh Jesus, just tell me how many stars.' Culturally, that kind of question of whether there is a place for that kind of ruminative, complex criticism, that's an open question, and not just for cinema, for everything.
I'm, by nature, a letter-grader. When I started watching films as a kid, I would assign them a certain amount of stars. (When Entertainment Weekly came along, if memory serves, I switched to letter-grades.) I see the value in it, but I also think a writer's analysis is more important. That's one of the reasons why I like the format of Consumables -- I don't list my grade, so I have to try my best in the write-up to approximate my level of love or hate for the movie/album/TV show/single I'm covering. Which is what a critic is ultimately supposed to do, right?