THE DARK KNIGHT, FALLEN: “I’m not saying that Batman v. Superman is a bad movie,” John Podhoretz deadpans, “but when Ed Wood—the guy who made Plan 9 from Outer Space—saw it in Purgatory, he said, ‘Really, there should be standards.’ Nor am I criticizing the performer who plays Batman; but after the movie was over, I crossed the street and went into a Lowe’s and did notice that all the pieces of wood there looked exactly like Ben Affleck.”
As Bill Murray would say in his role as “Weekend Update’s” resident film critic, ouch!
And speaking of that particular occupation, “It’s not the film critic’s job to save you $15 — not that you’d listen, anyway,” Sonny Bunch writes at the Washington Post, in an article that begins with a look at the critics versus the public on Batman v. Superman before veering off into the role of the 21st century film critic:
“[Caricaturist Al] Hirschfeld and [Pauline] Kael started quibbling about the uses of movie criticism,” Nathan Heller wrote of Pauline Kael in a 2011 piece for the New Yorker. “Finally, Hirschfeld asked her point-blank what she thought critics were good for. Kael gestured toward [director Sidney] Lumet. ‘My job,’ she said, ‘is to show him which way to go.’” This is, too, perhaps, more than a bit presumptuous — Kael’s own tenure in the biz was short-lived and tumultuous and possibly engineered by Warren Beatty to prove that critics need a hair more humility — but it is also admirable and forthright and true. The critic is interested in, even obsessed with, improving the state of art.
I’m not at all sure that was the case with Kael, who rejected Hollywood’s middlebrow mid-century movies for pulpy action-packed trash polished with the distancing techniques of the European New Wave. If you’re wondering how Hollywood went from Gone with the Wind, Citizen Kane and Casablanca, to Batman Versus Superman and Quintin Tarantino’s entire oeuvre, Kael is the linchpin between old and new Hollywood.