A Reviewer's Dilemma
While critics often garner our respect for their insightful analysis and interpretations of works of art, reviewers have their share of distress while reviewing. Unlike critics, reviewers do not have much liberty in choosing the books, movies, or albums. Reviewing something which they feel strongly about (especially negatively) is when reviewers may tend to get into trouble.
Jeevi of IdleBrain.com is the most popular Telugu movie reviewer on the Internet. He used to review almost every single movie, straight or dubbed, immediately after its release. A couple of years ago, he skipped reviewing a big-budget movie called Bangaram. The movie turned out to be the worst movie in hero Pawan Kalyan's career and the grapevine was ripe with speculation that Jeevi might not have written the review only because it would've sounded a death knell to the movie's meagre chances.
Earlier this year, Rediff's Raja Sen revealed the climax of Race in his review, and after some controversy and debate about whether a review can or can not reveal the ending of a movie, half-heartedly apologized to the film-makers while justifying his actions.
Around the same time, Maxim's David Peisner gave a 2.5/5 star review to the Black Crowes album Warpaint without actually listening to it. It blew into a high-voltage drama that ended with Maxim's president releasing an official apology.
These instances, and perhaps most others which have created controversies, originated from a reviewer's strong feelings, which he or she is entitled to have. The reviewer may find a movie god-awful and might feel dutiful to advise the readers against watching it. The trouble comes when the god-awfulness ebbs over the objectivity. And even Roger Ebert wasn't immune to it.
Last week, Ebert gave a 1 star review to an indie Tru Loved after watching only eight minutes of the 102-minute movie! He made a full disclosure in the review itself, though that might not usually be enough to avert a controversy, especially for a reviewer of Ebert's stature.
But there isn't much controversy over it. His actions in the aftermath have been truly exemplary. Being the honest and wise man he is, he poured out his thoughts into his widely-read journal. He listened to the reader's comments, pondered even more, admitted his guilt of affection for his prose, watched the whole movie this time, and reviewed it again. (The 1 star remains.) The man who perhaps has contributed more to film criticism than any other single individual showed the path, that more than a review or a movie or readers, it is the plain truth that deserves priority.
However, this doesn't end the debate nor the dilemma. Can a reviewer skip a review to help his friend-filmmaker? Can a reviewer reveal a climax? Can a reviewer walk out of a movie and still review it? If yes, can he review it watching just the promos? If no, where is the tipping point, the time after which it may be allowed?
It won't be futile for every reviewer to face these questions, and more importantly to answer it in his or her own manner.
A Reviewer's Dilemma
- » Published on October 23, 2008
- » Type: Opinion
- » Filed under:
Author: Cine Cynic
- Subscribe to RSS 2.0 feeds for:
- » Comments on this article
- » Media
- » Media: CDs
- » Media: Films
- » Media: Films - Bollywood
- » Media: Films - Hollywood
- » Media: Films - Telugu
- » Media: Music
- » Media: News
- » Desicritics.org articles by Cine Cynic
- » Cine Cynic's personal weblog
- » All Opinion articles
- » All Desicritics.org articles