Critic Elvis Mitchell’s departure from Movieline has spawned the usual flood of “What use are critics, anyway?” comments on various websites. Nikki Finke, for whose work I feel enormous affection, suggested the brouhaha had something to do with a wrong fact in his negative review of Source Code, which prompted an incredulous tweet from the director, Duncan Jones. Mitchell did a riff on Jeffrey Wright’s character smoking a pipe, a detail in an early script draft but not, apparently, in the film. I say “apparently” because, as I think back on Source Code, which I liked very much, I have a vision of Wright sucking on a pipe, and I definitely saw the movie. I also have a vision of Mitchell at the same screening, but I see a lot of movies with a lot of the same people, which is why it’s nice to have fact-checkers, who save my ass more often than I’d like to admit. One thing I can tell you with 100 percent certainty is that Mitchell would never, never, never write about something he didn't see. Never. Got it? Never. If there's someone who doesn't traffic in received wisdom, it's him. His writing is all fresh, all idiosyncratic, often brilliant, sometimes mystifying, never easy, and his radio show is first-rate. Whatever happened (I have zero inside knowledge) couldn’t have been on the grounds he wrote about something he didn’t see. In any case, another original voice is gone, first from the New York Times (where he was the perfect complement to A.O. Scott), now from Movieline. More important, it's gone from a field increasingly marked by hackish posturing and attended by fanboys and their idiotic ilk who campaign against critics whose writing isn’t in step with the majority or the Rotten Tomatoes rating.
To hell with them. May they grow and change. Fuck 'em. May God grant them wisdom. They vex me.