Publications that employ large fleets of freelancers…might be able to keep specialists on hand, but for the most part, any working critic today is pretty much expected to be a critic of everything.
As a young critic myself, it’s been my goal to see everything I can and comment on it. But what I’ve found lately is that I just don’t always have anything to say.
Case in point: Last week I posted a short review for Rainer Werner Fassbinder’s World on a Wire. I enjoyed World a lot, and I’d like to explore it again at some point, but what could I really say about it? I had an opinion—I liked it, a lot—but aside from comparing it to a few other films I also love—North by Northwest, The Fugitive, and Minority Report—there just wasn’t much else for me to say.
Which brings me back to the Singer post. This week I’ve been asking myself whether I really should have an opinion on everything, at least at this point in my life. Does the Internet need another review of World on a Wire if all I’m going to do is spend 400 words saying nothing more than, “I liked it”?
That’s why, in the weeks since reading the post, I’ve cast my vote for no. A snap judgment doesn’t add much to the conversation, and very often, when you’ve only seen a movie once (as I have with World on a Wire), a snap judgment is the only kind you have. There are always exceptions, of course, and if reviewing is your job then you’d better have something to offer. But for critics like me, who are hobbyists more than anything else, it can be actually be a relief to not have an opinion at all.
What’s your own feeling on this question? Should a critic—professional or self-described—always have an opinion, or can this sometimes hurt the discussion? Let’s hear about it in the comments.