Almost anyone can work out what they like and don’t like about a movie but to become a good movie critic takes a much deeper understanding of the workings behind the industry as well.
Like just about everyone else, professional movie critics tend to start at the bottom. They sometimes start out by selling newspapers or freelance writing moving up to editing positions. Dan Kimmel, for example, initially attended law school and then stumbled on a chance to write for the Christian Science Monitor. Even now he says that he wouldn’t be able to afford his habit if it weren’t for the fact that he gets into movies for free precisely because he gets paid to write eloquent and concise essays about each one. Most critics also work on the side as radio show hosts, for newspapers or in the television industry. Many who were full-time movie critics have been let go and those who haven’t are trying to hang onto their positions as long as possible.
The industry isn’t just about just working out why you liked or disliked the movie. It is also not limited to just watching as many films as possible. It also takes reading other reviews, articles and books about the industry, genres, etc. However, even the published article isn’t the end of it. Movie critics in a way are movie theorists as good reviews involve taking apart and analyzing characters, color schemes, music and even camera movements.
Once your opinion is in print for all the public to see, there is almost a certain guarantee that someone who disagrees with you is going to come forward and attack you. For example, when John Black gave his negative opinion of The Perfect Storm, his regular New England readers, most of whom disagreed, got passionately vocal about it. The only thing a critic can really do there is to acknowledge that everyone has their own opinion and not take it personally.
So, as you can see, being a movie critic is not nearly as easy as it sounds. At the very least, it takes dedication, appreciation and a passion for movies and the industry. The position may not be considered as powerful as it once was but movie critics still have a lot of leeway in acting as public service providers as to whether it’s worth seeing a movie in the theater.