I'm a big fan of Roger Ebert, but I'm afraid he's made a bit of a boner. Have you heard of a new film called Tru Loved? Me neither. I certainly haven't seen it. Neither has Ebert, but that didn't keep him from thrashing it nonetheless:
Earlier this month, Chicago Sun-Times film critic Roger Ebert ripped into a movie called Tru Loved like he was carving a Halloween jack-o'-lantern, labeling it 'on about the same level as a not especially good high school play. . . . It fails at fundamentals we take for granted when we go to the movies. By lacking them, it illustrates what the minimum requirements are for a competent film.'Ebert defended his decision in a couple of blog posts. The link above is from a Miami Herald roundtable where the paper's various critics took issue (in varying degrees) with Ebert's decision, either to write the review in the first place or back load the info that he only saw eight minutes of it.
Tru Loved, a low-budget, starless film about a gay teenager moving from San Francisco to a conservative suburb, is not exactly an Oscar contender. So there was no real news in a veteran film critic dumping on a cheap-jack indie flick . . . not until the 16th paragraph, anyway, when Ebert disclosed that he'd only watched the first eight minutes of Tru Loved. He confessed to lifting his summary of the plot from the website IMDB.com, and that some of the actors he criticized didn't even appear in the part of the movie he saw. No matter, he wrote: 'The handwriting was on the wall. The returns were in. The case was closed. You know I'm right.'
Although I sympathize with the idea that life is too short to suffer bad movies (or books or albums or . . .), isn't that part of the job description of a critic? Shouldn't they take one for the team so we don't have to?
One of the reasons I stopped writing album reviews on a regular basis is I didn't want to feel compelled to listen to CDs over and over again that weren't interesting me. I didn't think it was fair to my reader(s?) to pass judgment on stuff I wasn't listening to. Seems to me that if you're getting paid for the opinion, it ought to be fully informed.