As an American film critic who has repeatedly written about the major studios' predatory practices (e.g., punishing critics who give them unfavorable reviews), Jonathan Rosenbaum certainly stands in a small crowd. I have admired his steadfast commitment to the ethics of criticism, but more, I have admired and applauded his willingness to speak out about the fact that most media coverage on film is little more than advertising. So, you can imagine my surprise when under the Down to Earth listing this week [February 16] Rosenbaum admits that he is delaying his review of the film at Paramount's request. As he states, this is a "request traditionally made by studios that expect or at least fear an unfavorable critique." What gives?
Is Rosenbaum trying to play it both ways? Why on earth would he play their game? Did he already accept an invitation to the next (just too irresistible) Paramount on-location junket?
Jonathan Rosenbaum replies:
This has nothing to do with junkets. It's simply that I have to choose my battles: Paramount hasn't said that if I don't abide by their directives I won't be able to preview other films, but it's a safe assumption. In my opinion the studio was shooting itself in the foot, but if I refused to honor their request I'd be doing the same thing.