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From the Wire: Schwarzbaum on a Film Critic’s Mission

From the Wire: Schwarzbaum on a Film Critic's Mission

Film critic Lisa Schwarzbaum wraps up her twenty-two year tenure at Entertainment Weekly this week with a farewell essay about her time on the movie beat. She includes a few anecdotes — a “pissed-off wife of a wildly successful producer” once sent her a popcorn bucket filled with stones, because apparently when you’re the pissed-off wife of a wildly successful producer you’ve got plenty of time and money on your hands for bizarre, florid gestures — and leaves readers with what she believes is the mission of both film critics and their readers. What’s important, she writes, is not what we think about a particularly movie, “but why:”

“My part of the conversation is to use my own experience, analytic ability, aesthetic understanding, points of reference, writing skills, and — lucky me! — EW platform to explain how I come to, say, adore the ‘Lord of the Rings’ trilogy or despair of the hideous ‘Saw’ sensibility…. Your mission is to read with an open mind, watch movies with an open mind, and use the places where we diverge as inspiration for an ongoing conversation about this ever-changing medium we love together.”

In other words: the critic tells you what they think, not what you’re supposed to think. Don’t decide how you feel about a movie before you see it, and don’t attack people who disagree with you. All of these sentiments are Criticwire approved — good luck Lisa, and thanks for the conversation.

Read more of “Lisa Schwarzbaum on Loving Movies, Being a Critic, Engaging With You, and the Beauty of Agreeing to Disagree.”

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