For those who care, a flap has developed over whether or not film critics are actually needed. The string of events goes something like this: 1) Since January, several studios have opted not to screen certain movies (something like 17 titles in all) for the press, and said movies have mostly gone on to box office gold; 2) Longtime, established, intelligent critics like Jami Bernard and Michael Wilmington have lost their jobs; and 3) Despite crushing reviews, The Da Vinci Code went on to make a small fortune.

As a film critic, I'm obviously biased in this argument, but here's what I think. Firstly, those 17 movies that were not screened for the press will have a shelf life of about a year. After they make their run on DVD, airplanes and cable, they'll gather dust and disappear into the mists of time (all except Ultraviolet, which I will cherish as one of the year's great guilty pleasures). Secondly, the reason Bernard and Wilmington lost their jobs is not because they were not needed; it's because the internet (no offense intended) is killing the newspaper business. Newspapers can't afford to keep "frivolous" staff members around when it can't pay the bills, and this has happened to many of my colleagues (myself included) over the past several years.

categories Cinematical