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film criticism by maryann johanson | since 1997

wtf: film critic reviews ‘Inception’ without seeing it, doesn’t understand why this is a problem

Sometimes a WTF moment is so jaw-droppingly WTFish that you have to stop, back up a step or two, cock your head like a mystified puppy getting its first look at the most awesomely balliest ball ever — like you can’t believe how perfectly inexplicable the excellence of its roundness and the fineness of its bounciness and the rightness of its magical red color is — and say What. The. Fuck.

And that still doesn’t cover the story that Shane Danielsen tells today at IndieWire. It’s a lovely piece of writing overall, full of character and color and a sense of place… and, it must be said, a sense of totally righteous outrage. But a taste:

Ms. Troester came in and, as fate would have it, took a seat directly in front of me. I leaned forward and asked if she was from ExBerliner. She said that she was. Our conversation thereafter went like this:

“I’m just wondering, how did you get to see ‘Inception’? Friends of mine in L.A. only got to see that the other day. And I didn’t think there were any long-lead previews.”

For just a moment, it seemed to me, she looked slightly surprised. Then her composure recovered. She smiled. She seemed very agreeable. “We didn’t,” she replied.

“I’m sorry?”

“We didn’t see the movie. With our deadline…there was no time.”

“So why did you run a review on it?”

“We didn’t. We just did a piece.”

“But you gave it three stars.”

“Well, hearts,” she demurred. “Three hearts out of four.”

“Hearts or stars, lady – you reviewed the film.”

She shrugged. Her expression remained blandly serene; I might have been asking to borrow a cigarette.

There is, unbelievably, more. A lot more. I’ll spoil this for you: The exchange ends with Danielsen, satisfyingly, calling this “critic” a “hack.”

And then there’s more:

I think about friends of mine who’ve lost their jobs in the past twelve months – good critics, smarter about film and more diligent in their professional responsibilities than Ms. Troester and her ilk will ever be – and think how galling it is to see their ranks diminished, replaced by people for whom the work is cheap and meaningless and without honour or self-respect. People no better, in essence, than those shit-eating, merch-grabbing junket whores who’ll happily stump up a positive quote for anything, provided it comes with a night in a hotel room and free sandwiches in the hospitality suite.

And then there’s more still. Go read the whole thing. And fume along with me.


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