Film critics have a gilded life. I know, I used to be one - sort of. I never actually reviewed but for a few years I was on the film junket circuit doing interviews with A-listers, directors and some actors and actresses I'd not heard of at the time and not heard of since. It involved hanging out in five star hotels a lot eating far too many miniature pastries.
This gilded existence generates a sense of importance. The longer a film critic is a critic, I suppose, the greater the danger that this sense of self importance will become overbearing, out of proportion with reality. In other words, the more likely they are to start talking absolute rot about everything all the time.
Which brings me to Mark Kermode. The doctor, as he styles himself on Radio Five Live. Now, don't get me wrong, I love Kermode. Never met him, but I have over the years enjoyed listening to his rants, enjoyed his insights and often appreciated his point of view.
Today I heard him give one of the worst reviews of all time to the new Spielberg Tintin film. He didn't say it was awful, you understand. What he instead did was give it a sort of audio version of a shrug of the shoulders. It was all right ish.
I'm still looking forward to seeing the Tintin film, but the number of writers and critics rushing to pour cold water on the experience is beginning to mount up. I know the media works this way, and yet I can't help but wish they'd all just shut up and let me decide on my own, for once. If I enjoy it, does that make me a ninny?
Some films don't make sense to critics, but the public get. I'm not sure there is a critic working today who really gets cinema. Many are great cineastes with a knowledge of the art form greater than mine. But show them a fun example of slapstick and they walk out of the theatre cold. Kermode was, rather amusingly, being criticised today by listeners who loved Johnny English -- and I mean LOVED Johnny English, which he'd dismissed as unfunny. Johnny English isn't unfunny, it is a laugh. But if it was your twelfth film that week I can see how you might get a bit irritated with it.
It doesn't really matter of course. Critics are over, they've been killed off by the Internet. The ones we have are merely the rump, slowly rotting on the fence post. They'll be gone soon, replaced by blog aggregators or Rotten Tomato apps.