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A.O. Scott Offers “Critical Advice”

Olivia Wicik 

On Wednesday, October 19th,  the chief film critic for the New York Times gave a lecture in the Tilles Center as part of the Provost Distinguished Lecture series. Before  the lecture, Scott participated in a press conference with select members of the C.W. Post student media. The press conference and lecture both contained an “informal conversation” ambiance, where students and other listeners were able to ask questions on any topic they chose.

During the press conference, student journalists  asked questions that demanded answers that would guide them, especially pertaining to the “post-grad” life. Scott told the students that the advice he was given when pursuing a career in criticizing various media was to “maybe think about doing something else”. He said if it wasn’t for his persistence and stubbornness he wouldn’t be where he is today. “When you’re starting out, many doors will slam in your face — keep banging on them!” Scott told the students.

Scott  went on to speak about his career as a film critic.  He discussed what the hardest and the easiest types of reviews to write are; with the hardest being about a movie that you are against, but may be worthwhile to see and the easiest being negative and mocking reviews. “Negative reviews are fun to write and people love them but I tend to think they are not worth as much,” Scott said. The press conference continued with a plethora of other questions for  Scott ranging from his thoughts on graduate school, amateur film critics, and the story of his humble beginning.

When asked how he felt about being offered the position of film critic for the New York Times, Scott said, “It seemed as absurd as someone telling you that they have an open pitching position on the New York Yankees.”

After a short break between the press conference and the lecture,  Scott got ready to deliver his thoughts on “The Importance of Review in Modern Cinema.” The segment turned into  a Q&A period as well, during which, the audience was invited to ask the critic any question they desired. Scott spoke about various topics of the film industry. He said that a common misconception is that the “glory days” of film are in the past, “I don’t believe that age has come to an end — it’s just that the art form is very different in 2011,” Scott went on to say. The lecture lasted about an hour and audience reactions varried. Junior, Alex Parker, stated “He had a few good stories to tell, however, I didn’t take much away from the lecture.” Afterwards Scott stayed to take pictures with members of the audience; he even gave out his autograph to a fan.

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