Everyone’s a critic these days. With so many blogs and publications all vying for their share of the almighty clicks which drive the Internet, criticism has become sort of a cottage industry. Anyone with a keyboard and an opinion, well informed or otherwise, can label themselves a critic and gain all the access to all the cool movie screenings they could ever want, need, or desire. With so many people writing so much criticism nowadays, the climate is ripe for a takedown.

Jesse Eisenberg (Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice) has recently embarked into the world of literature with the publication of his book Bream Gives Me Hiccups and Other Stories. The book has earned some impressive praise since its release, increasing his profile and solidifying his reputation as a man of many talents outside acting. Filled with acerbic wit and keen insights, Bream Gives Me Hiccups is quite often hilarious and a pretty decent read. Now, however, Eisenberg has turned his witticisms and satire straight towards the film critic community.

In a new humorous essay written for The New Yorker, titled ‘An Honest Film Review,’ Eisenberg offers a wholesale critique of film critics and criticism, which finds the actor/author inhabiting the role of the kind of pompous movie critic who typically writes for The New Yorker. The essay, written as a review of a fake movie, mixes no words and offers a serious takedown of all the armchair critics and bloggers of the world, painting them as sad failures who live poor lives and still pine for the girl who rejected them in high school.

Jesse Eisenberg in The Social Network2 Jesse Eisenberg Criticizes Film Criticism in The New Yorker


Here is an excerpt from Eisenberg’s essay:

“The movie, which was written and directed by Steven Kern, who also stars, tells the story of a young man named Cole, who is tasked with bringing down the Italian Mob. Cole uses his paintings to send secret messages to the police, which pisses me off, because in grad school I wrote a short story with basically that exact idea. And I failed the grad-school class, but Mr. Kern is getting early Oscar buzz. Justice? Not in this life.”

It would be tempting to offer Eisenberg some critical advice, but it was hard not to laugh at the picture he painted of a sad and pathetic blogger who writes for a site that earns “eight hundred and forty five unique views a month.”  And, in all truth, the essay does serve as a potent reminder for critics and readers of criticism not to take themselves too seriously.

Indeed, the amount of criticism currently being produced in our society has reached levels that border upon absurdity, and really, critics aren’t as important as we like to believe we might be (painful as that might be to admit). Eisenberg hammers this point home further with a few insights into the mind of the critic, writing:

“In sum, these are the main problems with “Paintings of Cole”: it was inconveniently shown on the Upper West Side, written by a guy I envy, screened by a cute intern whose name was too confusing to remember, based on an idea that I poorly executed in grad school, and praised by the Times, which rejected me. Nonetheless, “Paintings of Cole” is easily the best movie of the year. I’m saying this only in the hope that the studio might print my name after a blurb on the movie poster. And I’ve always wanted to have my name on a movie poster. How cool would that be?”

Though the satire is fairly biting, and more or less inclusive of the kinds of things amateur critics might consider when judging a film, one wonders whether Eisenberg thought to include the critic bemoaning  his rejection from Rotten Tomatoes, or his pining for membership in an “elite” film critic’s society? Perhaps including these details would have sold the satirical premise even more.

Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice hits theaters everywhere on March 25, 2016. Jesse Eisenberg’s book, Bream Gives Me Hiccups is available now.

Source: The New Yorker