Academy Award-winning director Martin Scorsese wrote an essay to criticize film grading websites such as Rotten Tomatoes for setting a “tone that is hostile to serious filmmakers.”
The “Silence” director wrote the essay for The Hollywood Reporter to criticize the growing popularity of online aggregators that has made “opening-weekend grosses into a bloodthirsty spectator sport that seems to have encouraged an even more brutal approach to film reviewing.”
Scorsese wrote that he noticed a change in cinema within the past 20 years that was due to Cinemascore, which surveys audiences’ reaction to films, and Rotten Tomatoes, an online review aggregator, which he said has “absolutely nothing to do with the movie business and absolutely nothing to do with either the creation or the intelligent viewing of film.”
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“These firms and aggregators have set a tone that is hostile to serious filmmakers — even the actual name Rotten Tomatoes is insulting. And as film criticism written by passionately engaged people with actual knowledge of film history has gradually faded from the scene, it seems like there are more and more voices out there engaged in pure judgmentalism, people who seem to take pleasure in seeing films and filmmakers rejected, dismissed and in some cases ripped to shreds,” Scorsese wrote.
Scorsese went on to defend Darren Aronofsky’s controversial film “Mother!” and called it “tactile, beautifully staged and acted” despite the “severe judgments of it” that the director said “disturbed” him.
Scorsese believed critics “seemed to take joy” in film’s critical reviews.
“After I had a chance to see ‘Mother!,’ I was even more disturbed by this rush to judgment, and that’s why I wanted to share my thoughts. People seemed to be out for blood, simply because the film couldn’t be easily defined or interpreted or reduced to a two-word description,” Scorsese wrote.
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Scorsese explained that “good” movies were not meant to be “instantly liked” or even understood right away. The “Goodfellas” director mentioned classics such as “The Wizard of Oz” and “Vertigo” were both panned when they were released but went on to be considered some of the greatest films ever made.
Scorsese said he hoped the websites’ movie scores would be “gone soon enough” and other films such as “Mother!” would “continue to grow in our minds.”