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All Movie Talk

Welcome to All Movie Talk! In this audio podcast, Samuel Stoddard and Stephen Keller talk about old and new movies, famous directors, historical film movements, movie trivia, and more.

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Do You Care About Reviews?

There's been some controversy this year as more and more films have not been screened for critics (meaning critics don't get to see them in advance), including the sure-to-be-a-smash-hit-but-wasn't Interweb phenom, Snakes on a Plane. A lot of critics contend that studios have some responsibility to let critics see movies early, so their reviews can be published before or the same day the movie comes out -- after all, a review isn't nearly as useful the weekend after a film is released.

It has led to a general debate about the usefulness of film critics and movie reviews. The studios are clearly questioning whether they need critics, and this has caused a lot of discussion over whether audience members need them, either. So what do you think? Do you like movie reviews?

Personally, I quite like having movie reviews in advance, though I've terribly missed Roger Ebert while he's been out recovering from surgery. In my mind, a good review gives you an idea whether you'd like the movie and a great review is interesting to read even if you disagree with it. Ebert's reviews are almost always good and many are great.

Other critics, however, are sketchier. I like to use Rotten Tomatoes to skim through reviews (especially from top critics in the "Cream of the Crop" section). A lot of reviews are self-indulgent and pretentious and thus insufferable, and a lot of critics aren't willing to give popcorn movies a fair shake. That said, I still think critics are very useful, because sometimes movies are very surprising and great reviews on a really outstanding popcorn movie are likely to get me to check it out. Critics are also very useful for highlighting small films that would otherwise be off the radar.

But do we really need reviews of Pirates of the Caribbean Part 4? Maybe not. But I still enjoy reading them.

(As an aside, my review of The Departed got some good feedback. Do you guys want to see more reviews on the site? Sam and I don't have plans to do many reviews on the podcast, but I'd be open to publishing more on the blog here if there's a demand.)

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