While perusing Slashfilm I was guided toward this thoughtful piece on how Roger Ebert may be the last critic who mattered. This has been on my mind quite a bit since his passing, and the article does an excellent job summing up how it feels to try and be a critic today. His brand of criticism was not the deepest, but it was incredibly sharp, and he was certainly the most prolific critic of our age. I can't think of anyone else who so successfully made the transition from newspaper, to television, and then to the internet, as well as Roger Ebert did.
There are certainly a number of critics who still matter. I've focused some of the recent In Appreciation pieces on those who do. Armond White may have faded out of the internet limelight but he's still doing excellent work in print, on the radio and television side of things I've also discussed the growth of Mark Kermode and Simon Mayo. I'm still leaving out other critics I love in various forms, like the Times' A.O. Scott who is doing the best print reviews around, Manohla Dargis, also at the Times, who is an excellent critic as well, and while I don't like his written reviews as much, Michael Phillips is still a fun read.
So while I appreciate the central question of the article, the more important thing to focus on is that there isn't that one personality everyone knows anymore. My coworkers still think of reviews as Siskel and Ebert, with a scant few recalling Roeper. If I bring up any of those other names from the preceding paragraph I get a blank stare in return. There are still going plenty of critics who matter because well-written and thoughtful pieces of criticism will always be in demand by someone. Someone is bound to reach Ebert's level someday, but for now I appreciate the people we still have.
Now that my bit of pondering about the future of film criticism is done, here are some thoughts on upcoming films. Here are trailers for Best Man Down, the RoboCop reboot, and Neighbors. Best Man Down already has three strikes going against it - Justin Long, a fat man acting zany, and awkwardly inserted road trip premise. Neighbors fares a little better, with at least some funny visual gags in the trailer to help soften the "frat moves in next door" premise. But now that I've seen the trailer for RoboCop I have a bit more faith in the reboot. The original was one of the sharpest satires of '80s corporate control run amok, and this one is taking a look at our hands-off warfare strategy with drones. So, despite the increasingly annoying presence of Samuel Jackson doing the same thing he's been doing in Marvel films, I have some faith that the reboot will be interesting.
Tomorrow Kyle and I return to look at Andrei Tarkovsky's Solaris (Солярис).