The Criticwire Survey: Critics and Twitter

The Criticwire Survey: Critics and Twitter

Every week, Criticwire asks film critics a question and brings you their responses in The Criticwire Survey. We also ask each member of the poll to pick the best film currently playing in theaters. The most popular choices can be found at the bottom of this post. But first, this week’s question:

Q: In response to this conversation between Dana Stevens and Will Leitch: 

Do you tweet after screenings? Why or why not? And are critics in general too quick to tweet their thoughts after screenings? 

The critics’ answers:

Edwin ArnaudinAshvegas:

“I tweet after screenings because most of my followers want my take on films ASAP. The more time they have to plan what they’re going to see, the better. I view these brief, carefully-crafted messages as hooks for the reviews to come, and as a reader myself, I support this behavior by fellow critics.”

Danny BowesTor.com/Movies By Bowes:

“Before getting to the answer, I’d like to thank Mr. Leitch for being one of a handful of writers who inspired me to think “Hey, I can maybe (sort of) make a living at this,” now that I (sort of) do. However, I don’t completely share his trepidation about Twitter. While it’s true that immediate reactions to screenings can’t possibly have the same depth as a review after a couple days’ (or even hours’) thought, I personally differentiate sharply between how I regard an immediate reaction and a full review. (And to Ms. Stevens’ point, the former in no way makes the latter redundant.) When not under embargo, I’ll tweet something after a screening, if there’s something to say. When I saw ‘Limitless,’ for example, when it was over and I was walking home I tweeted about it being a coked-up Ayn Rand fantasy, which I still stand by, and expanded on that idea in a review and subsequent essay (which seems a lot of thought to devote to something that was as bad in as unoriginal way as that movie was, but, hey, these things happen). All that being said, I think the value of immediate post-screening tweets is extremely variable. Some people, bluntly, are better at Twitter than others (I’m by no means claiming to be one of the good ones here, I frequently say really, really dumb shit on Twitter and need to be corrected) and occasionally factors other than the movie itself send someone into raptures/rage that lead to over-the-top tweeting afterward. I think the solution at which Mr. Leitch and Ms. Stevens arrive by the end is the best solution: if film critics are annoying you on Twitter, don’t follow the ones who annoy you. (But follow me, I’m fun.)”

Christopher Campbell, Documentary Channel/Film School Rejects/Movies.com:

“I do tweet after screenings. Unless the publicists make a big point about them being embargoed. But even then I’ll tend to tweet something without naming the film or being too direct about it. I think it’s okay to get your first impression out there. I don’t see it being much different than the quickly turned around festival review or even one posted at the time of theatrical release. But I always consider everything I write and tweet as a fleeting response. A tweet or a review from me is of the time, and I may change my mind or think more deeply later on about a film. And unlike reviews (though many of mine have been lost to the fallen website or two over the years), tweets aren’t as easily found in searches or archived on review sites, so I’m less regretful of anything I write there. So, the point is, read everything by me and stay current with my latest thoughts on Twitter. Maybe tomorrow I’ll also decide I think tweeting your immediate thoughts about a movie is all wrong.”

Sean ChavelFlick Minute:

“Critics tweet too hastily after screenings in the same damaging way that box office reports are released now on Saturdays. Presumptuousness as well as heedlessness are destroying films before they have a chance to find an audience. Nobody thinks before speaking anymore when it comes to the tweets issue. Its all about snarky, smart-ass quips these days. In the old days, critics were thoughtful and reflective.”

Marc Ciafardini, GoSeeTalk.com:

“Not all the time, but yes I tweet after screenings. Mostly it’s to either tell people it was good or much better than one might suspect and further an extension of the thoughts we give the studio rep in theater lobby. I imagine high profile and respected film critics are the same way so in most respects I have no problem with them tweeting after a film. Ultimately, like most artists do, they are utilizing new technology and keeping up with the times. Basically if you like them, and regularly like what they have to say, then 140 characters of their opinion will not dissuade you from reading the full review once they’ve finished it. Little off-shoot here, but sometimes critics/reviewers tweet following a film in an attempt to get the word out first. Case in point: any and all film festivals. Unless you’re an established personality who people will go to because they value your views in film every little bit of exposure helps.”

Billy DonnellyAin’t It Cool News:

“In the past, I have tweeted post-screening, although I completely understand the argument that doing so is in a way stealing from yourself. There is only so much one can say in 140 characters, and, in thinking about it, without the context of what one may like or not like about a film, winds up being nothing more than a quantifiable opinion no different than using grades or scores. I think you’re trying to serve your readership/followers by offering up an opinion in this climate of information immediacy, but it does run the risk of getting people to not read your full reviews if they can just get your perspective from a tweet. There is a degree of self-importance that comes with tweeting about some films being seen way in advance of their release, as if to say ‘Haha! I’m seeing it before you are.’ I feel that plays a bit into this need to tweet things right away, acting as a status symbol that someone may be at the front of the line when the rest of us have to wait. But, furthermore, the creation of these Twitter consensus or opinion does wind up building some high expectations that are sometimes difficult to meet for others who don’t have the opportunity to see a film until later in the process. On numerous occasions, I’ve had a film fail to meet the ‘greatness’ that I’ve been unable to avoid hearing about (via Twitter, of course) through no fault of my own. Once that bar is set, it’s awfully difficult to skirt it, no matter how hard I try, as there is only so much I can do without having my memory wiped. In essence, Twitter can be a blessing in order to share information and opinions, but, in many instances, also a curse.”

Edward DouglasComing Soon:

“I will tweet after screenings at film festivals because that’s part of my coverage of the film festival and people who follow my feed will want to know my opinion immediately rather than wait until I can write something. I very rarely if ever tweet after screenings at home because I’m normally under embargo or they’re just too far out from release, and it would be a betrayal to the publicists who trust me with early screenings to get out and slam the movie on Twitter rather than taking some time to think about them and giving them fair warning via a reaction. I also like to think about movies before writing about them, something that doesn’t happen when you have to formulate an immediate opinion for Twitter. Oh, and also I’m not paid to tweet, nor does the site paying me to attend these festivals/screenings make anything from me tweeting rather than posting something on the site.”

Alonso DuraldeTheWrap/What The Flick?!:

“Admittedly, I tweeted out instant reactions at Sundance because it seemed de rigueur, but generally, I like to let my thoughts simmer for a bit before I crank out a review. I trust most of my gut reactions, but sometimes I might be too high (or low) on a movie in the moment only to have my opinion find a more even keel a day later. As for other critics — eh, whatever they want to do. We all have our own way of evaluating, and if people feel like getting on the horn immediately, that’s their right.”

Jessica ElgenstiernaThe Velvet Café:

“I don’t have the habit to tweet my immediate reactions after watching movies. It might have happened a few times, but then it’s been out of thoughtlessness and not as a deliberate decision. There are several reasons why I don’t tweet. One is practical. Once the movie is finished you’re supposed to leave the room so the staff can clear the floor from popcorn. They don’t want you to hang around in an otherwise empty room and there’s not much space in the entrance room where you comfortably can stand and tweet along without people bumping into you. And outside… well, I live in Sweden, it’s too cold! Another reason is that I often haven’t got anything to say about the movie. I’m unable to make a snapshot call on what I think. I need at least a few hours for it to sink in. The final reason, which is most important, is that tweeting isn’t my main medium. I’m a blogger at heart and that’s where I want to put my energy and creativity. If I blow off steam in short tweets, I’m afraid it will be harder for me later on to build up my inner pressure and feel the urge to write as an outlet. I don’t judge critics who do instant tweeting after watching movies. To each one their own. But if it’s a movie I plan to see further on, I skip reading those tweets since I want to see it without too much influence from what others have made of it.”

Kenji FujishimaThe House Next Door:

“I often do tweet after screenings (unless, of course, I’ve just come out of a press screening and have been expressly embargoed from doing so) because I think there’s something to be said for noting an initial response to a film; in some ways, that’s at least one part of the lifeblood of film criticism. That said, I don’t always make it a priority to tweet responses to a film right after I’ve seen it. As is the case when writing long-form film criticism, there’s also something to be said for giving yourself time for reflection and consideration before posting something — whether a full review or just a tweet — for posterity; your initial response to an especially challenging piece of cinema may not end up being exactly the way you feel about it a day or even a month later. Of course, others may not feel quite the same sense of weight with even a tweet-review. More power to them, I guess.”

Jason GorberTwitch/Filmfest.ca:

“I do, actively, and with regularity and sometimes even with a modicum of wit (@filmfest_ca, in case you wish to follow) tweet after a screening, usually after a few minutes of contemplation. I don’t spend my time during a screen thinking of Twitter zingers, nor do I do the same regarding my eventual review. I find particularly at festival time Twitter provides a great way of keeping track of your experience with a film, getting my initial reactions down before you see another film that day that may color your initial impression. Sometimes the experience changes upon reflection, but it’s dishonest to ignore how you initially felt about a given work (I’ve got an entire article about this regarding ‘Beasts of the Southern Wild’ up at Twitch). Frankly, I’d rather see quick Twitter quips than reading ahead of time full reviews of a film that I’m already predisposed to see, as the more fleshed out arguments would do far more to sway potential reactions. Leitch’s arguments seem to suggest that Twitter reactions are bad, but reading trusted critics ahead of a screening is perfectly fine. The fact remains that the so-called “humblebrag” is clearly evident even for full reviews, given our world of shifting embargoes (often different if your in another country or not at a given festival). A set of Tweets, like a capsule review, is a tool to encourage someone to see or avoid a given film. Formal reasons tend to come later, but in the heat of a festival, simply having some sort of direction to choose from the smorgasbord is often quite a helpful thing.

As for the the larger argument about whether this is giving away things for free, many of us critics are severely underpaid as it is, and we’re constantly vying for a build-up of reputation via mechanisms such as social media in order to crack into the very small community of salaried professional critics. What’s more disconcerting is the number of fellow colleagues that sometimes belittle those that don’t have it quite so juicy, either blocking individuals with whom they disagree or strictly having conversations between their own small community. Twitter isn’t supposed to be cliquish like (the evil) Facebook, it’s a community: part broadcast, part discursive, and the way that some critics wield their position is positively draconian. The only reaction to a film that’s too quick is to have your mind set before you’ve even seen the thing. No tweet, no review should shape your reaction to such an extent that it interferes with both your job as a critic and your role as an audience member. I’d like to think that my post-film tweets aren’t kneejerk snark but bite-sized guidelines to help an audience seek out a given film, an appetizer to the larger meal of critical discussion that I believe my long form writing helps provide.”

Bill GrahamCollider/The Film Stage:

“I tweet and Facebook after lots of movies. But a lot of the time I’m under an embargo, especially on social media, so I don’t in that case. I think Twitter can make you instantly say things you might not agree with later. It’s instant, unfiltered, and often unthinking reaction. However, you can give some insight into a film if you put forth some effort. Simple adjectives like ‘great,’ ‘awesome,’ or other empty words don’t usually serve any purpose. However, I think we can agree that some people are being overly sensitive to their profession. There is a way to add to the conversation, and halt it in its tracks. As with most things, it’s in how you use it. The other side is that some people may be more inclined to read 140 characters versus a full review. And if you pump out a full review quickly, maybe a quick plug of that might entice even more people to read your piece.”

Melissa HansonCinemit:

“Social media is all about trending, so the only real way to benefit from tweeting (getting followers, retweets) is to be ahead of the pack. Tweeting about something directly after a screening does allow for the most coverage, but there’s usually not real substance. For me, it’s only after reflection that a true assessment can be made and by that time, there’s no point to tweet about it because no one else is. Review embargos are lately also applied to Facebook/Twitter/etc, as it should be. A tweet can have a much higher impact than a review and studios are beginning to realize this.”

Eric HavensDownright Creepy:

“I’m not particularly proud of this, but in the spirit of honest responses here it goes: I only really tweet directly after a screening when that response is completely negative. I find when I enjoy a film, or even appreciate it, I want some time to really think about it and form flushed out thoughts and opinions. When I hate a film, however, I seem to be more than willing to spew some snarky witticism onto Twitter. I suppose that, at a very basic level, a negative reaction very rarely evolves into anything but a negative review. That makes me feel some confidence in my lovely 140 characters of snark. But now I am rethinking everything.”

Peter HowellToronto Star:

“The very nature of tweeting tends to conspire against considered thought, and it’s hard to climb down from an ill-considered tweet. So I prefer to tweet mini-reviews only at festivals, where I give an early impression of films that I will very likely be seeing again months later, when I can write something more substantial. It’s difficult to be definitive in 140 characters, although I’ve seen some people who can do it well.”

Jordan Hoffman, Film.com/ScreenCrush:

“I think Twitter reactions are great. I read ’em and I do ’em. I also recognize that thirty seconds after you see something — especially at a festival premiere or at the Zeigfeld with the stars saying ‘thank you’ — your first blush reaction can be suspect. I’ve reversed my opinion between the time of the post-screening afterglow and actually writing my review more than once. Sometimes that even makes it into the review; how it can *seem* exhilarating but not stick to the ribs. Still, I engage in Twitter reactions for what they are: I’m in this business because I’m enthusiastic about film and if an anticipated title is being seen by people I want to know what they think now now now. This doesn’t negate further, richer criticism for me in the slightest. I’m not worried about groupthink because I have my own opinion and I know which critics I trust. There are critics I read and follow and when they dismiss something I know it’s good and when they say it is brilliant I know it is garbage. That’s a whole other issue, though, and, no, I’m not going to name names.”

Sean Hutchinson, Latino Review:

“As far as I know I’ve tried not to tweet directly after screenings I’m assigned to review for the precise reasons Stevens and Leitch say detract from the general cinema-going experience for others. Tweeting about a movie tends to implant a false sense of expectation in people who want to see a movie, however much they are able to clear their heads and go in with an open mind. I remember colleagues of mine who were present at the New York Film Festival secret screening of Steven Spielberg’s ‘Lincoln’ last year who immediately tweeted afterwards that it was middling at best with drawn out and boring character studies, and led me to believe that my initial hesitations about it being merely Oscar bait were true. Once the movie opened I finally saw that it wasn’t mediocre, but one of the best films of the year. I think the tendency for critics to tweet their initial responses, especially with the onslaught of recent Sundance Film Festival reactions, falls into what Stevens explains is the ‘conferral or social value on the person for having been at that event,’ and most of the time misses the mark as a legitimate assessment of a film’s worth. On the other hand it fulfills the tendency for the critic to use social media to be up to the minute with interesting film news for their readers. If done properly I think tweeting about movies can balance on the edge of meaningless, rushed reactions as opposed to justifiable shorthanded additions to the overall film conversation. Waiting to gather your thoughts and patiently weighing the film as a whole is better than spewing your instantaneous opinion in 140 characters or less five minutes after the lights go up.”

John Keefer51Deep.com:

“I have a flip phone so tweeting right after a screening would require me to borrow someone else’s phone and given my history with texting inappropriate things to people on other people’s phones I would be unable to engage in this practice.  But if I were to I would only tweet loving, kind and wonderful things about a film I just saw and loved that would look something like, ‘-name of film-LOVE! BEAUTY! CINEMA!’ and if I saw a film I didn’t like I wouldn’t say a thing about it because then you just seem like a jerk because you can’t get into the why’s and whathaveyou’s. I also need to get into screenings.”

Adam KempenaarFilmspotting:

“I don’t have a set system, or any strict rules I adhere to. If I have something I think is halfway compelling to say, I’ll say it. But I’m much more likely to dash off a quick comment about a film I know I don’t plan to review/discuss in detail. The last thing I want to do is lock myself into a certain position publicly when I have yet to sort out all of my thoughts privately. Who knows — maybe my initial reaction will change significantly in the review writing/note taking process? Additionally, just as I prefer to come into a movie with as open a mind as possible, I think it’s probably best if listeners not find themselves ‘filtering’ my comments through some perceived stance before they’ve heard me (try to) articulate my entire reaction.”

Glenn Kenny, MSN Movies/Some Came Running:

“Jeez, Matt. Now we have to do HOMEWORK to answer the questions? I suppose I should be grateful you didn’t make us watch the whole thing, which I see runs for like 45 minutes. Looks SCINTILLATING, as Lex G. would say. Anyway, I tweeted something after the screening of ‘Like Someone In Love’ to the effect of ‘Wow, outcall in Japan is WEIRD’ which is neither a witticism (‘You’ll need them;’ speak for yourself, Stevens) or even really an observation; just my idea of a quasi-Dadaist wisecrack. I don’t use Twitter as review-preview tool. I generally use it as a forum for wisecracks, quick communications between me and some like minds, ‘pataphysical observations, and links.

I was having coffee with a well-known writer of sufficient fame that if I were to drop said name it would indeed seem like name dropping, and he observed, semi-jocularly, ‘You occupy a unique position in New York media,’ that position, being, apparently, of the most dyspeptic human being in social media. I think I should have told him to follow Scott Weinberg, but instead I tried to defend myself. ‘But,’ he said, ‘with someone like Natasha Vargas-Cooper, when she bragged that she’d never seen that Renoir film, did it occur to you that maybe she was joking?’ ‘Well,’ I said, ‘it might have been a joke, but the intent behind it was entirely serious. ‘Fuck you and your subtitled art film.’ Why am I supposed to take that as a joke?’ So on the conversation went, and I started to feel bad about being blocked by Important Figures and so on, and I said, ‘Well, yeah, I guess I should try to be a better citizen on Twitter.’ And he smiled and responded ‘But to what end?’ Yes, exactly. Anyway. Why are those yo-yos (sorry Will Leitch, you’re not a yo-yo but for the purpose of this sentence you’re gonna have to be) wearing lavalier mics AND speaking into handheld microphones? Reminds me of the line in ‘Once Upon A Time In The West’ about guys who wear belts with suspenders. Also it looks completely fucking goofy.”

Dan KoisSlate:

“Yes! I mean, I don’t write as many weekly reviews as many others on this list, so I’m often not scooping myself. But I really enjoy tweeting a quick off-the-cuff response. But that is rarely an evaluative response — I don’t think it serves anyone to tweet ‘That movie was a real piece of shit! #piecesofshit’ immediately after seeing something. Instead, I want to tweet something (and read tweets from others) that frames or recontextualizes a movie in some new or unexpected way.”

Gary KramerGay City News:

“I do not tweet after screenings. If I can summarize a film in a tweet, what’s going to prompt someone to read my review? If I’m going to tweet about a film, it’s going to be to direct folks to read my interview or review @garymkramer.”

Peter LabuzaLabuzaMovies.com/The Cinephiliacs:

“Anyone who knows my diary entries on Letterboxd knows I have a strange way of approaching this stuff. First of all, people who are simply tweeting ‘Great stuff!’ ‘Hated the performance!’ or the dreaded ‘Oscar contender!’ have no business tweeting after a movie. Your reactions aren’t criticism, they’re simply knee jerk reactions that aren’t adding anything of value. However, knee jerk reactions are important. The feelings and thoughts you have after you come out after emerging from a film are essential to how one will articulate the experience, even if you backtrack on those thoughts by the time you write a piece (which can be a day later, or perhaps months or years later). Thus, having that initial reaction captured in some form is important. But the trick, just like films, is how you do it. I use a very loose style of haiku form that gives me 4-5 lines to capture the essence of the film. I try and think about the two or three essential takeaways that sparked in my mind watching it, and combine them into something spare and a perhaps a bit cryptic (many people complain that they aren’t even sure if I liked the film or not). So if you are going to tweet during a film, use the limitations to push toward artistry (as criticism is an art form after all). Plenty of great critics have made something unique and fantastic out of it. Like all forms of writing, many do it, but few do it well.”

Andrew LapinThe Atlantic:

“When I went to our local screening of ‘Cabin in the Woods,’ the publicist playfully asked us not to tweet out any spoilers. But when the lights came on at the end, a small group of young critics breathlessly cornered the publicist like crazed fanboys and panted, ‘I know you can’t tweet spoilers, but what if I said, like, ‘Go see ‘Cabin in the Woods,’ but prepare for a shocking ending!’?’ Of course, the publicist let them, no doubt because it saved her the hassle of tweeting the exact same thing on behalf of the studio. That’s my problem with post-screening tweets in a nutshell, and why I’ve stopped the practice myself: there’s no good way to do it. Either you’re just blatantly providing free publicity without any critical analysis, or you’re rushing to be the first to pile hate onto something. What’s the point of either one? What happened to closely guarding your own opinion until you could hone it into a world-class, fully formed argument? Isn’t that what the critics we most admire used to do? We may have an urge to talk, but we also need breathing room, because otherwise we just become one homogenized opinion machine — just more noise. We should hold ourselves to a higher standard than noise.”

Josh LarsenLarsenOnFilm.com/Filmspotting:

“I’m fine with critics sending tweets after screenings as long as it hasn’t broken any sort of embargo agreement (which I know can be a fuzzy line). As a Twitter follower, I don’t read many of these until I’ve seen the movie myself and written my own review, which is pretty much the same rule of thumb I have for ‘traditional’ reviews. As a critic, I label my after-screening tweets as a First Impression, both to ‘spoiler-warn’ those who might want to avoid what follows and to give myself wiggle room to alter my overall opinion after giving the film that deeper reflection Will is talking about (and any film certainly deserves).”

Will LeitchDeadspin:

“I disagree with everything Will Leitch says.”

Christy LemireAssociated Press/What The Flick?!:

“I don’t tweet right after screenings for a few reasons. Primarily I’m trying to emerge from the fog and remember where I parked my car and do I have enough money for the babysitter, or do I have to run by the ATM on the way home? But fundamentally, I like to have at least a little bit of time to marinate on a film — often, the way I feel about it evolves the more time passes and the more I ponder it. Plus, it just seems wasteful — why share my thoughts early by blurting them out there on Twitter? I’d rather save my opinion for the review itself.”

John Lichman, Freelance:

“What is Twitter if not the perfect representation of a capsule review? You can choose to be as flippant or direct as you want. Repeat ad nauseum until your thoughts are clear or all your followers are gone. It’s a clear progression from 2008 when the premiere of ‘Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull’ was essentially being ‘live-tweeted.’ People were outraged at the ‘stunt.’ Now those same folks live and die by Twitter reviews, by hosting Twitter-viewing parties and encouraging people to follow them as they watch anything with hashtags. I don’t think it’s too soon to pan or mock a film if you want to. That’s easy. The litmus of a ‘Twitter review’ is whether a writer has a tougher time condensing into 140 characters. That means there’s something worth engaging. Besides, I’ve gone back and used my Twitter to rediscover ideas and asides to use in my writing. Besides, it encourages debate and pisses off publicists. What’s not to love?”

Germain Lussier/Film:

“I tweet immediately after screenings. I feel like most of the people who follow me are following me for movie-related reasons so that’s the kind of thing they want to read and I’m happy to oblige. However, I totally agree some pause is needed for a full review of a film. Many times an enthusiastic initial tweet will be toned down when I go from 140 characters to 1400 words. Hopefully the people on Twitter understand this.”

Joey MagidsonThe Awards Circuit:

“I’m going to contradict myself here in a way, because while I do tweet my quick take on any non-embargoed screening I attend (especially if I’m at a film festival), I sometimes think we as critics are too fast with our thoughts after screenings. I tend to either write my reviews the same day as the screening or a number of days after, and that in between time has moved me in a different direction sometimes. I’m unlikely to change my habits, but I do realize that sometimes a bit more contemplation would be a good thing.”

James McCormickCriterion Cast:

“To tweet or not to tweet, that is the question. To be honest, depending on how much I loved the film I have just seen or how much I hated it, I might tweet out a slightly coy tweet to allude to my feelings. But do I do it often? Not really, because of many reasons. One, I like to formulate my true feelings for a film and don’t ever want to necessarily rush to a conclusion. Even when I gave a bad review for ‘TRON: Legacy,’ I waited until it settled into my subconscious and I sat down to write the review. Instead of hate tweets, I received hate mail. At the same time, when I’m at a film festival, I like to make sure our site gets enough face time when it comes to the films I’m seeing, so at Fantastic Fest it seems to be fast as you can when it comes to your thoughts on a film. So I don’t think I have a definitive answer to the question. It’s more of a preference for each critic and how you feel about the film and if it deserves your immediate attention and the people you follow as well.”

Mike McGranaghanThe Aisle Seat:

“I always tweet after a screening, and if it’s a movie I feel very strongly about one way or the other, I tweet while the end credits are still rolling. I like to give my followers an immediate impression of the film I’ve just seen, but it also helps me begin the process of organizing my thoughts. I also try to use a tweet as a ‘teaser’ for the review itself. For example, after the first opening day screening of ‘Movie 43,’ I tweeted that it was ‘monumentally awful’ and ‘easily the worst thing anyone involved with it has ever done.’ To find out specifically why I felt that way, my followers had to read the full review when it was posted about 90 minutes later. I do think tweeting too much can be detrimental; after all, we don’t want to give all our thoughts away on Twitter if we want people to read our reviews. Still, I think tweets can effectively give a taste of the critic’s opinion while still whetting the reader’s appetite for the full article.”

Jana J. MonjiThe Demanders/Pasadena Art Beat/Examiner.com:

“The Age of Twitter
Film criticism sound bytes
Journalism junk food

When I see a movie, I seldom tweet my immediate reaction. Sometimes, I might do some research as I did for the infamous “Cloud Atlas” about which I wrote two articles: “A Hovering Accusation of Racism” and “The Evolution of Asian Eyebrows: A (Dia)critical Contemplation.” I’m not so much a fan of Twitter in the sort of rush to be first one-upmanship kind of game that seems to have taken hold of some writers. Seeing a movie at a press screening is not a scoop. Such a viewing is not breaking news (unless if involves a tragedy like a shooting). I hardly see a purpose of tweeting about a movie I’ve just seen and by doing so, reducing a review of a movie to 140 characters. Those 140 characters are fine for haiku (5-7-5) or tanka (5-7-5-7-7), but 140 characters hardly allow for complete thoughts beyond ‘Thumbs up, thumbs down’ or a number of stars or popcorn symbols or in the case of a bad movie, ‘It sucks.’ These are conclusions and not complete thoughts or arguments. When you consider the time producers, actors, writers and PR people put into each movie, you should be willing to give the whole enterprise more thought than the one-minute it takes to post on Twitter. To be a critic should mean more than wanting to be the first with an opinion out. Being a critic should also be about crafting a composition, raising questions and informing your audience.

When tweeting at will
Please don’t litter on Twitter
Be a wit not twit”

Amy Nicholson, Movieline:

“There are critics I adore — adore to bits — whom I’m forced to dodge after screenings because they can’t wait to tell me how much they hated the movie we just saw. I’m a slow processor. Kind of. When I love a film, that’s immediate and I’ll take to Twitter straightaway to start building buzz. But with a mixed reaction, the sediment takes a while to settle. I avoid the insta-haterz until I know where I stand, and I avoid blurting out a first response that I might not mean in the morning. Shout the good, be certain before the bad. It’s a policy that works for films, and, well, everything else in life.”

Rudie ObiasShockYa:

“It depends on if there’s an embargo, but I always tweet my response to a movie after I watch it. Of course, I don’t spoil anything from the film but I think giving a general overview of a new movie is completely in bounds with film criticism in a digital world. I think it’s perfectly fine to share your opinion or reaction to a movie without spoiling it. There’s a reason why people follow me on Twitter and it’s not to know what I’m eating for breakfast. I firmly believe it’s the user’s responsibility not to pay attention to Twitter or social media if they don’t want to know anything about what’s going on in pop culture, the movies, or the news. If you don’t want to know anything about a movie, take responsibility and stop using Twitter.”

Zac Oldenburg, Having Said That:

“I’m someone who rarely posts a quick opinion on twitter and I agree a lot with what Leitch is saying. I think groupthink and a need to find an early consensus is one of the negatives Twitter can have on film criticism and that aspect I certainly do not enjoy. I think the other writers I follow has been trimmed down to a core group specifically because of this reason and I trust the tweeting nature of those I follow so that I shouldn’t ever get too hung up on this matter. To what Stevens is saying about spoiling the writer’s review and risking losing those eyes who feel like they already have your opinion I cannot quite get as on board with. The people that feel like they got your opinion in 140 characters were probably never going to read your review anyway and for those that do read your reviews a tweet can be an intriguing teaser drawing them to read your review to figure out what that tweet really means.  I think Adam Quigley (@alwayswatching), Guy Lodge (@guylodge), and David Ehrlich (@davidehrlich) are some of the best at this and whether it is in print or podcast they almost always get me excited to hear more of their opinions through a simple tweet. They can also be quite funny as well.”

Matt RorabeckMovie Knight:

“Being the social media junkie that I am, I am guilty of tweeting after most screenings I attend (unless embargoed). I do believe my followers enjoy the brief reactions to the films and will still stop by and read a fully thought-out review even after reading some simple reactions on Twitter. I believe both Twitter reactions and full reviews are valuable in this day and age, and what’s great about Twitter is that someone does not want the mini-reviews they can choose to ignore them or very easily unfollow. Although some initial tweet reactions to screenings can be rather hyperbolic (both positively and negatively) I don’t think critics are too quick with their thoughts after screenings. We’re all in this industry because we are passionate about the medium and Twitter is a great place to share that passion. Full reviews are the place where we are professionals and if our thoughts happen to change from our initial ‘tweet’ reactions after we’ve thought about the film a little more, then that’s perfectly fine.”

Josh SpiegelMousterpiece Cinema/Sound on Sight:

“I do tweet after screenings, typically, when there’s not some kind of embargo on the film. Whatever compulsion I have to do so is wanting to share something to those people on my feed instantly, though hopefully not to an extent that I’ve negated the point of a review. Regarding that point from Ms. Stevens and Mr. Leitch, I don’t totally agree that being pithy about a film on Twitter will automatically make a full review pointless. It all depends on the person writing the tweet and review; hopefully, that person wouldn’t rely on one witticism to make their review stand out. (The more tweets you write about a film you’ve just walked out of, though, as Mr. Leitch mentioned, the less likely this is possible, of course.) To the last question, I’d say critics are only too quick to tweet after screenings if they’re doing so just so they aren’t left behind by their colleagues. But I do think tweeting after screenings can have value — it’s not an either/or issue for me.”

Luke Y. ThompsonTopless Robot:

“I’m very old-school about this, a function of having started at print media, I think. My belief is that when an employer pays you for a review, one of the things they are paying you for is the privilege of being the forum in which your opinion is first publicly stated. I also feel like if someone tweets out their opinion, half the time I don’t need to see their review any more. If I am not assigned to review something, I might tweet. I remember the days when my parents would wait to see what the newspaper critic said before choosing a film, and that anticipation — I like holding on to that, a bit. I think instant reactions can help provide a more accurate description of a film, especially if it’s not a very memorable one, but sometimes a more considered response is appropriate.”

Anne-Katrin TitzeEye For Film:

“No, I don’t. Tweeting has nothing to do with reviewing films.”

Ignatiy VishnevetskyMUBI:

“For me, talking about a movie — with colleagues, fellow moviegoers, etc. — has always been an important part of the process. However, there’s a difference between private conversation and public writing. While I’m ready to talk about something as soon as the credits roll, it usually takes me at least a day or two before I’m ready to start writing anything like an opinion. Sometimes I’ll tweet observations right after a movie: a scene that I especially liked, a reference point that came to mind, and so on. But as for actually voicing a ‘this is good’ / ‘this is bad’ sort of opinion, I prefer to withhold that kind of stuff until I’m putting together the review. Judgement takes time.”

Max Weiss, Baltimore Magazine:

“I don’t tweet about films I’ve screened for a few reasons. One, I’m apparently the last working film critic who actually honors the embargo. Two, as Dana says, I want to use all my best one-liners in my review (I still think full-length reviews are more valuable than tweets, but then again, I’m old school like that). But Will nails my biggest problem with those 140 character reviews: they’ve made it nearly impossible to go into a screening without a preconceived notion of the film. Usually, by the time I get around to seeing the film — remember, I live in Baltimore — I’ve already read the tweets, the backlash to the tweets, and the backlash to the backlash to the tweets. It’s hard out there for a social-media-loving critic.”

Andrew WelchAdventures in Cinema:

“It depends on the situation. I don’t typically tweet anything after a press screening, because either there might be an embargo or because I don’t want to give away my opinion too soon. I’m not at the point in my career where people are clamoring to hear what I think, so I want to save everything I can for the review. The only exception to this is where I’ve just seen something that I won’t be reviewing. On Friday, I was at the Texas premiere of ‘Blood Brother,’ the big documentary winner at Sundance, and I did tweet after that because I was only seeing it for the sake of seeing it and not to review it. As to whether other critics are too quick to tweet, it’s not my place to judge. Sometimes I genuinely want to know, and if I can know now, then great. But, that said, is there a chance I won’t read their review because I already know what they think? Yes, absolutely. Sometimes you just don’t need to know much beyond the question of whether it was good or not.”

Chase WhaleTwitch:

“I don’t usually tweet after advance screenings of theatrical releases (unless I really liked or hated it), but I do after every film I see at a festival. My first reactions are for followers who aren’t able to attend a festival but want to know about films I’m seeing. Especially since most films that play at festivals don’t release for a long time, or, in rare unfortunate cases, at all. Like every critic, I’m collecting thoughts about a film as it unfolds in front of me. As long as the tweet is coherent and thought-provoking (the opposite of ‘It’s awesome!’ or ‘It sucks!’), tweeting a reaction after a film ends should be encouraged. This helps gain buzz for the festivals and the films playing (negative buzz is still buzz. The kiss of death is absolutely no buzz). First reaction tweets will always be an ongoing argument. Some will point fingers, saying certain critics are just trying to be first (in the finger-pointers’ defense, that’s sometimes true), but I think it’s perfectly fine for a writer to tweet their reaction immediately after seeing a film. Most of the time, the critic will reviewing that film anyway, so their followers will end up reading their full, well thought out breakdown. Or followers can ask a critic to elaborate their tweet on Twitter — God won’t kill a puppy for having a conversation on there. Everyone should let go of the ‘They are just trying to be first!’ mentality. It’s exciting for a critic to get their thoughts out to their readers. If they happen to be first, good for them. If they’re last, their dedicated audience will still read what they have to say. That’s what is important to me — the ones who read my work regardless of when it’s posted.”

Stephen WhittyThe Star-Ledger:

“I understand the impulse, after a particularly stupid movie, to fire off a quick one-liner. But really, what sort of insightful or even vaguely useful thing are you going to say about a Wes Anderson movie, or a Coen Bros film, in 140 characters? Our reviews, and the world’s attention spans, are short enough as it is.”

Mark YoungSound on Sight/New York Movie Klub:

“I almost always tweet after a screening, because I firmly believe that your first opinion coming out of a theater will mirror that of a reader who is considering spending money to see the movie in question. For me, the review mostly exists to explain where that first thought came from, and why.”

Alan ZilbermanBrightest Young Things/Tiny Mix Tapes:

“I never tweet my first impressions after a screening. The reason why is practical: it’s usually kind of late when the screenings are over, and I’m in a rush to get home. Also, I never start a review until I’ve slept on the movie. A positive first impression may sour or vice versa, which in turn could make the hypothetical tweet obsolete. The only exception to this rule is when I’m at a film festival, where I’m already seeing three to five movies a day. Hype is part of what drives a festival, so it follows that I join that machine.”

The Best Movie Currently In Theaters on February 11th, 2013:
The Most Popular Response: “Side Effects
Other Movies Receiving Multiple Votes: “Django Unchained,” 
Zero Dark Thirty, “Argo,” Amour.

This Article is related to: Blogs and tagged


Comments

Matthew Spangler

Just thought I'd answer Mr. Kenny's comment about the two mic's…its b/c the lavalier mikes record the sound directly to the camera systems for the video and the handhelds provide the audio for the room so people can hear them clearly across the PA.

That way the sound is optimal (and doesn't have a buzz from the room that handhelds create) because its unpredictable to capture audio as they raise and lower their mics to talk to the crowd. Pretty common practice for many live recorded sessions (although maybe the lav's could have been hidden a bit better).

Arch

On my way to read all of this.
Meanwhile correct me if I'm wrong but it seems to be the survey with the most answers I've seen. Did you change your "methodology" or is it just, as one can guess, a very popular subject?

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *