It's Friday night and I want to go to the movies. But, I don't know how to choose from fifteen or so movies before me. I can quickly knock out a few I don't want to see, leaving me with the final gems. How to decide? I check the reviews of my favorite critics.
Not everyone feels that way.
Actor Samuel L. Jackson of "Avengers: Age of Ultron" once took issue with New York Times film critic A.O. Scott. Jackson encouraged his Twitter followers to help Scott find a new job after Scott wrote the following in his review of the movie:
The secret of 'The Avengers' is that is is a snappy little dialogue comedy dressed up as something else, that something else being a giant A.T. M. for Marvel and its new studio overlords, the Walt Disney Company.
Such is the life of a professional critic, often seen through a refracted lens as both an indispensable and erudite thinker and a parasite on artistic creativity. We can't live with - or without - them.
At its best, criticism is a democratic undertaking - an endless conversation with friends, within your own head, and with professional critics who inspire us to think deeply about what we experience in art.
But, in this digital age where Yelp and Amazon can drown out the voice of the professional critic, what differentiates the professional from the amateur?
- A.O. Scott - Co-chief film critic for the New York Times and the author of Better Living Through Criticism: How to Think About Art, Pleasure, Beauty, and Truth
- Michael Riedel - Theater columnist for the New York Post, co-host with Susan Haskins of 'Theater Talk,' author of Razzle Dazzle: The Battle for Broadway.
- Carrie Rickey - Film critic and writer, former film critic for The Philadelphia Inquirer
Colin McEnroe, Betsy Kaplan, Chion Wolf, and Greg Hill contributed to this show.