Ben Wheatley Not Keen On Film Criticism

Acclaimed British filmmaker has stirred up a bit of ire today with some candid comments about film criticism and those who practice it as a profession.

Critics have been good to Wheatley over the years – praising his first three films “Kill List,” “Sightseers” and “A Field in England” along with his work helming Peter Capaldi’s debut on “Doctor Who” in 2014. That changed last year when his new film, “High-Rise” starring Tom Hiddleston and Luke Evans, opened to mixed reviews at the Toronto Film Festival.

Despite that blow, word of mouth on the film has bounced back thanks to a clever and tasteful marketing campaign. Speaking about the film ahead of its release in the U.K. on March 16th and the U.S. on April 28th, he spoke with Flick Reel where he offered his thoughts on film criticism.

Though most of his comments focus on being a profession he himself has no desire to do (perfectly fair enough), it’s more his suggestion that only people who want to be filmmakers get into it as a profession, and only those who’ve actually made films should have the right to criticise films that have been met with raised eyebrows:

“It’s a job that I wouldn’t want or seek out. As a creative person, I think you should be making stuff. That’s the challenge. Talking about other people’s stuff is weird. Why aren’t you making stuff? And if you aren’t, why should you really have a voice to complain about things until you’ve walked mile in someone’s shoes? There are a lot of critics that I like, but I don’t get that relationship with art where you can just talk about it but not create it.

I’m so lucky that I’m of an age that I wasn’t able to rant about films and put it on Twitter and message boards for the rest of time. As soon as I made my first film, I realized that my days of watching films and shouting at [filmmakers] for being terrible were totally misguided. It’s really really hard to make anything even just competent. I mellowed immediately. I’m not as judgmental now.”

The comments come as the just opened horror film “The Witch,” a film which owes its theatrical release to rave reviews out of Sundance last year and subsequent festival screenings, has become the biggest box-office opener for its distributor A24.