Plenty of filmmakers over the years have had acrimonious relationships with critics. After all, it can’t be easy to spend a year or more of your life pouring your heart and soul into a project, only for a writer who’s already seen four other movies at a festival that day to tear it to shreds. But most filmmakers at least let their antipathy for movie critics stay private.
Not Kevin Smith: after his 2010 comedy “Cop Out” was (rightly) torn to shreds by the critical community, Smith took to Twitter and expressed his displeasure, saying “You wanna enjoy movies again? Stop reading about them and just go to the movies. It’s improved film/movie appreciation immensely for me. Seriously: so many critics lined up to pull a sad & embarrassing train on ‘Cop Out’ like it was Jennifer Jason Leigh in ‘Last Exit to Brooklyn.’ From now on, any flick I’m ever involved with, I conduct critics screenings thusly: you wanna see it early to review it? Fine: pay like you would if you saw it next week. Like, why am I giving an arbitrary 500 people power over what I do at all, let alone for free? Next flick, I’d rather pick 500 randoms from Twitter feed and let THEM see it for free in advance, then post THEIR opinions, good AND bad. Same difference. Why’s their opinion more valid? It’s a backwards system. People are free to talk shit about ANY of my flicks, so long as they paid to see it.”
Even when his next film, “Red State,” was opening, Smith stuck to his guns, with a ten-minute rant at Comic-Con against movie writers. But with “Tusk” premiering at TIFF (to, it should be noted, mostly good notices, including ours), Smith appears to have softened his stance. Buzzfeed‘s Alison Willmore spoke to the filmmaker not long after the film bowed, and no too long after he’d retweeted a review, by Variety’s Scott Foundas, of the film. Smith says that reading Foundas’ review was “a big breakthrough. It was such a crazy emotional moment where I got a little wet-eyed, just by virtue of the fact that for so long, I was so fucking angry. It was nice to let go of that. I’m too fucking old to fight or care anymore. I’m old now enough to know some people are going to like it and some people are not going to like it. And that’s way easier to say with something like ‘Tusk,’ because yeah, some people are not going to like it. I’m more shocked that anybody likes it. I’m delighted.”
Well, we’re glad that Smith is being a little more reasonable about the whole thing, although it’s hard not to wonder what’ll happen the next time he makes a movie that gets a reaction like “Cop Out” (something we sincerely hope doesn’t happen, if only because it’ll mean that another movie as bad as “Cop Out” will exist in the world). In the meantime, you can see “Tusk” for yourself when A24 open it on September 19th.