Film Review- For the Love of Movies: The Story of American Film Criticism (2009)

You read that right. I’m gonna talk about a film that revolves around the criticism of films. For the Love of Movies is the first documentary film ever to chronicle the fascinating history of American film criticism. It shows us over 100 years on how this hobby came to be, and what little qualifications are needed. I streamed this doc on Netflix recently and it is hands down one of the most enticing of documentaries I have seen. As a moviegoer, this film really opened my eyes to the world of criticism, and how much it impacted movie viewers in the early 19th century, from the origin of films in general. This doc also generously profiles the writings of the earliest movie critics such as Bosley Crowther, Frank E. Woods, Otis Ferguson, James Agee, and a few others who made early movies look magnificent to the public.

For the Love of Movies official poster

I really enjoyed the interviews and mini clips of contemporary movie critics and ones who work for big newspapers like the New York TimesWashington Post, and other papers and websites. Among those interviewed were cyber critic Harry Knowles, and the late and stellar Roger Ebert (one of my favorites). I was fascinated to see that a couple of the movie critics working for news publications did in fact start in journalism. It seems that their journalistic background were easily transferable to the art of film criticism, and it’s certainly something I’ve considered going into myself (or perhaps pursue screenwriting).

Gerald Peary, a movie critic at The Arts Fuse, a Boston-based online magazine, directed this documentary that’s made quite a memory in my mind. It’s nice that a veteran film critic decided to compile the history of this obscured profession that has been rising in the last decade. I couldn’t keep my eyes away from the screen because if you love movies, you wander what the critics say, and to see these past icons and feuds is remarkable. The well known “auteur theory,” the theory that a director‘s film reflects the director’s personal creative vision, is discussed and also became the center of criticism itself between critics.

There’s more originality and creativity in the profession than meets the eye. And as far as originality goes, it begs the question on how this hobby/career will be affected with personal and public competition. These writers and critics share their knowledge and thoughts on the topic, and it all makes for a truly interesting doc. If you’re a movie junkie as myself, give this documentary a shot!


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