Saturday, 21 June 2014
By Mark Kermode
I wonder if I'd get on with Mark Kermode if I ever met him. I think I probably would, even though I often disagree with him. Disagreeing with a critic is something that keeps the film community's heart beating, and while this book talks a great deal about the changing times and the changing opinion of critics, it also makes a a good arguement for their continued existence. Expertise is a big factor in the usefulness of a film critic in this day and age where film companies are now using random tweets from dubious sources on their advertising.
With the rise of online critics, the professionals have had to deal with a lot of competition from idiots like myself (see my now-defunct film site, Diary Of A Genre Addict, for my own examples), and Hatchet Job takes a look at how this has changed the film industry a little, and how it has certainly changed the public view of dedicated critics.
Once again, the anecdotes are the most entertaining part (especially the "Well? Say it to my face!" conversation, which is a delight), but Kermode gets his point across well and with plenty of knowledge to back up his arguements. Do we still need professional critics? yes we do. The word 'professional' is the key.
While bog standard film nuts like me may well enjoy spouting off about films blindly into the ether, the pros have a more tangible audience, even now in the digital age. It would be a shame to see them vanish entirely. Especially as then there would be less books like this satisfying and well-written volume. With Hatchet Job, Mark Kermode reinforces his status as the UK's best film critic with a quiff.