What makes a good reviewer? I think that most people, me included, tend to respond first to those critics who agree with them. I also respond to critics who take a film on its own terms, something that Roger Ebert ten years ago (less so now, as far as I’m concerned) used to be brilliant at. A good critic should be able to acknowledge that in terms of what it achieves a brilliantly made genre piece (say, Raiders of the Lost Ark) is up there with the best of cinema, even if it may not be about ‘important’ things.
The best critics are the ones whose reviews you may disagree with completely, but that a) show you that the critic cares about the medium they’re writing about, b) make you think (and about something other than, “What’s this guy going on about?!”) and c) know how to write. Kermode hits all three of these, and trust me, there are a couple of reviews where my take on the film is practically 180° in the other direction. Fair warning, though: he can be smug and he is at times somewhat in love with his jokes – but he also seems self-aware enough to laugh about himself.
Anyway, enough from me. Here are two recent(ish) reviews by Mr Kermode that I liked a lot – enjoy!