wilard manus

How did you get started as a film critic?

I first started reviewing film in 1981, after having come to L.A. from a long stretch in Europe (mostly on a Greek island). But I had written occasional features for such film magazines as SIGHT & SOUND while I was living in Europe.


What was your first meaningful moviegoing experience?



What was your first published review?

I think it was back in Greece in the mid-1970s, when I was writing for the English-language monthly, THE ATHENIAN.


What movie would you have liked to review had you been a critic upon its initial release?



What movie are you embarrassed to admit you love?



Name a film you think everybody should see.



What’s the most common question you’re asked when someone discovers you’re a film critic?

"Do they offer you money to write a favorable review?"


Is there a genre or era you have a particular affinity for?

I'm interested in any kind of film that's aimed at adults.


What is your process in approaching a review?

I try to write the review the day after seeing a film, while it is still fresh in mind.


Do you like to discuss a movie with other critics immediately after a screening or before writing a review?

I do not like to discuss a film with other critics.


What other film critics, past or present, do you admire?
James Agee, Stanley Kaufman, Kenneth Turan.


Is there a classic film you’re embarrassed to admit you’ve never seen?


What’s the worst film you’ve ever seen?
There are so many, but Woody Allen's latest (YOU WILL MEET A TALL, DARK STRANGER) rates high up on this list.


If I weren’t a film critic, I’d be a…
I'd be what I am--a general freelance writer, a novelist and a playwright.


In the age of digital media and blogging, where is film criticism going and where should it go?

Obviously, print is fading out; digital is a'comin' in.


To the public at large, what purpose does a professional film critic serve?

To alert people to worthy new films (and unworthy ones to avoid).


What’s the best part of being a film critic and the worst part of being a film critic?

Best part: being able to see advance screenings of films in a quiet, no-popcorn setting. The worst part is having to sit through comic-book, super-hero crap.


Name the worst sequel ever.

The 1978 Sylvester Stallone remake of PARADISE ALLEY.


What’s the biggest misconception people have about film critics?

That we are coerced by magazine/newspaper editors--and/or by the film studios--into writing favorable reviews.


What would you say to the old saw that critics are frustrated artists, punishing those who do for doing?

Writing film criticism is a craft, same as writing fiction, composing music, etc. Besides, many members of LAFCA are filmmakers themselves. I myself write fiction and plays.  I don't detect an axe to grind in any of the critics I know.


Are movies better because of film critics?

Many of the film artists who were given awards by LAFCA have publicly thanked its members for having written perceptively about their work.


What advice do you have for aspiring film critics?

Write as much as you can about film in whatever media outlet you can find.


Has social media changed how you interact with your readers and has social media made the job of film critic easier or harder?

I have never had much interaction with my readers. As for the social media, it has not affected me very much (not yet, anyway).



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