I know film critics are generally despised around here on the SWDB forum as when Spaghetti Westerns first came out, they were critically slated. But I think they do have an important purpose, apart from recommending movies: there revaluation of films. For example, Alfred Hitchcock’s 1955 black comedy The Trouble with Harry was a box-office flop in America and was dismissed as one of the Master’s lesser works. However, in recent years, critics have come to this film again and revaluated it from being a failure to a hilarious comedy ahead of its time. Because of this sudden exosphere to the limelight, I was interested enough to buy it on DVD and found it to be great; if they hadn’t made such a fuss over this “forgotten” picture, I would never have bought it and consequently lost out on seeing this fun movie.
Also, they help keep motion pictures alive. For instance, at the moment, it seems that it’s unfashionable to like director Peter Bogdanovich, but there are a few critics out there who treasure his work and keep his movies alive and him and his motion pictures drifting into obscurity.
From reading film guides like Halliwell’s, I became aware of directors like Billy Wilder and Joseph L. Mankiewicz for the first time. Through books like this and others like the Time Out Movie Guide I learnt most of what I know about films today.
Of course, critics can be unfair and dismiss good pictures like many Spaghetti Westerns or look down there nose at Stanley Kramer movies, but I think when they put their skills to good use, they can be of enormous help.