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film criticism by maryann johanson | since 1997

question of the day: Have you ever lied about liking a movie, and if so, why?

Spout at IndieWire asked an interesting question yesterday: “Have you ever lied about liking a movie?”

[W]hat better week to think about this than the 70th anniversary of “Citizen Kane”? Given that it’s rated on so many lists as the greatest film of all time, I expect the pressure to agree is enormous. Maybe not as enormous as the pressure to feign excitement about a single terrorist mastermind’s murder (or the pressure, now that people are trying to make it controversial, to not call it “murder”), but pretty tremendous.

Then again, because of “Citizen Kane”‘s prominence a lot of people seem okay with calling it “overrated” or flat out hating it…

Perhaps the pressure is greater if you’re in film school or even a film critic. What if you’re one of the odd few who doesn’t particularly like “Inception” or, god forbid, “Toy Story 3,” and you don’t want to be put in the corner with Armond White. Maybe you genuinely think films from the 70s, like “Bullitt” and “The French Connection” are boring and aren’t as brave as the young guys from Film Pulse. I’ve never really been a liar and I was often more of a coward in my youth, so I simply never told any peers that I wasn’t into “The Seventh Seal” or “The Seven Samurai” back when I was in my first years of film school. I guess keeping your mouth shut can constitute a lie, or at least a form of pretend.

I do think that any film critic who lies about his or her reaction to a movie needs to find different work: if a critic cannot be honest about hating a film even everyone else seems to love, that person has no business doing criticism.

But there would seem to be no reason why a member of the moviegoing public wouldn’t lie about liking a film. Though I’ll add to Spout’s question:

Have you ever lied about liking a movie, and if so, why?

(If you have a suggestion for a QOTD, feel free to email me. Responses to this QOTD sent by email will be ignored; please post your responses here.)

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