Truth be told, I stopped reading film reviews in 1992 when I stumbled onto a piece about The Crying Game and read, “You’ll never guess the big surprise!” This of course left me guessing throughout the film – He’s a secret agent! He’s dead! He’s a murderer! – and ruined the experience.
The problem with reviews is simple: they are plot-driven. Even The New Yorker, highly touted for its prose, consistently offers lame reviews, all summary and no insight. Roger Ebert marketed his thumb well, but now that he’s gone, it’s all about the freshness of a tomato. The thing about reviewing is that anyone can do it; the only requirement is consciousness and barely that.
I developed a 8-Star system as a teenager. I must admit to a vagueness in my descriptors but would like to point out that I never handed out a “#” nor a “—“. Never. That said, I know that there was some inconsistency in my ratings. I suppose, to my young eyes, Stanley Kubrick’s Barry Lyndon just wasn’t as tightly paced as Orca. I went on to review a few films in college, one piece which I used in the development of my undergraduate thesis on Walt Disney.
It was also in college that my penchant for reviewing the reviewers arose.
Some things never change.