All I wanted was some popcorn

By By Trevor Hale and By Trevor Hale

By Trevor Hale

It was the first time I had sat in the press section of a movie preview. I arrived early enough to get a good seat. It was a section reserved especially for people reviewing the movie, and I was one of them. I was now officially a film critic.

One of my favorite parts of going to the movies is sitting back and enjoying a film while ruining my appetite with soda and popcorn — but I was too nervous to get any of it that night. I took a look around, and not a single person in the press section had what would even remotely resemble a snack.

They just sat there in silence, stone-faced, staring at the blank screen with a notepad and pen in hand, waiting for the lights to dim to officially kick off the countdown to when they were allowed to leave. It depressed me to no end — these (mostly) men looked as if they were chained to the seat and about to be shown an orientation film on how to correctly slaughter a horse.

And this was before a movie that was supposed to be funny.

As I looked around, I remembered why I had avoided becoming a film critic for so long: reviewing movies sucks all the fun out of them.

Years of film school have already desensitized me to a lot of things about movies. I don’t get scared because I know all the tricks. I can’t watch a huge action scene without wondering how many cameras and extra days they needed to film it. I can’t watch a comedy without wondering how much of the dialogue is ad-libbed and how many times the actors ran the scene before they got it right. Those were the things that caught my attention in the first place. Now, sitting in this theater, I actually had to start picking these movies apart from the opening credits to the end titles. I was forced to start looking for specific reasons on why it was good or why it was terrible.

People were actually going to take my word on whether or not to see a movie. That’s a lot of pressure.

I always told myself I never wanted to be a film critic because I have a hard enough time simply sitting back and enjoying anything already. Reviewing films was always a last resort, Hail Mary, nothing-else-has-panned-out direction. It was something to fall back on when every other possible choice was gone, and I was going to stick by it. Then my editor dangled a paycheck and a press pass in front of me, and I snatched it up without thinking twice.

I had begun my ascent up the ladder that every other Harry Knowles wannabe has climbed at one point or another — but at least I had a legitimate outlet for my reviews in The Daily Utah Chronicle. I was one better than the millions of anonymous bloggers on the Internet, and that was going to have to do.

The more I started thinking about it, though, the more I started enjoying what being a film critic for a newspaper entails. I got to see movies before they were released for free, and I got to combine two of my favorite things in the world — writing and film.

I decided to enjoy being a newspaper film critic while I had the chance. Enjoy it because in this new Internet age, newspapers are laying off film critics left and right, and I might not have the opportunity to journey down that nothing-else-has-panned-out direction in the future.

It’s only a matter of time before print journalism cedes to the Internet and anyone can claim critic status. So I’ll take the opportunity while I can, and next time, I’ll even get some popcorn.

[email protected]