A few years ago a clip was making the rounds of some critic eviscerating the third Pirates of the Caribbean film. I had watched the film recently and thought it was absolutely dreadful, so I wanted to give it a gander. This was my first exposure to Mark Kermode, a critic for radio across the pond, and I thought it absolutely hilarious. Cut to a few months later and I was revisiting his work and this time it was terrible. After revisiting his work recently and listening to a few years worth of reviews I grew to appreciate him again, and it has to do somewhat with how internet criticism has slowly grown.
The internet has done a remarkable thing in bringing together people across the world to talk about film. Our site has people following it from Russia, Poland, and Mexico, to name a few. What it's also done is make a little market for people who are looking to share their opinions on film and, as a result, we now have hundreds of people writing, recording, and expressing their views worldwide. While the event itself is tremendous and I hope continues to grow, it's also resulted in a strain of screechy, shallow critiques filled with incessant hyperbole and little analysis to the film itself.
That's something I was trying to rid myself of when I started writing for the site, and why I didn't enjoy Kermode's take on the third Pirates film the next time I watched it. But catching up with his work over the years gave me a greater appreciation for the daily grind of analysis and communicating thoughts in an intelligent way. I realize now that we're working in two very different mediums, he in a radio and I in written form, and that requires a different means of conveying the information. It also gave me an appreciation that even if I ever find genuine success in any kind of writing that there is always room to grow.
Kermode has become a wonderfully succinct and informative film critic. I could still see those sardonic edges fighting to get free in reviews following that Pirates bit, but his sense of humor has adapted over the years to something far more pointed than mispronouncing performers names and saying "Rubbish" a lot. Even looking at Movie 43, a film he absolutely hated (I do too), he manages a great overview of the myriad of problems in the film in a short amount of time. You can see this same entertaining approach in other reviews as well, such as What Maisie Knew, where he makes excellent points about the performances and characters, and bringing his past experiences to the table in his take on Lovelace. Despite his success, he continues to grow, and has not settled into a comfortable pattern or rested on the laurels of sarcastic outrage.
Now I paid a lot of lip service to Kermode here, but the growth would not be as clear without his patient partner, Simon Mayo. Their partnership isn't one of a Siskel and Ebert, but more of a bemused friend who knows when to step in and right the ship. Mayo's commentary, on top of Kermode's, has grown from a repeated, "Oh boy, he's at it again," during one of Kermode's older rants to a teasing give and take.
I am grateful for the both of them and appreciate that even in success there's a continued avenue for evolution. Hopefully I'll be listening to them for years to come and can continue to grow as well.