Roger Ebert Home

Francis Coppola


Blog Posts


Thumbnails 6/17/16

Why Viggo Mortensen is off the grid; How Netflix became Hollywood's frenemy; Ted Kotcheff on "First Blood"; Insomnia and philosophy; Bruce Dern at 80.


Thumbnails 9/4/2013

Triceratops never existed; Coppola and DePalma betwixt passions; 8 books every educated person should read; the Syrian rebel problem; The Last Temptation of Christ revisited; Herzog + Morris.


Andrew Sarris, 1928-2012: In Memoriam

Andrew Sarris, who loved movies, is dead at 83. He was the most influential American film critic of his time, and one of the jolliest. More than anyone else, he was responsible for introducing Americans to the Auteur Theory, the belief that the true author of a film is its director. Largely because of him, many moviegoers today think of films in terms of their directors.


How much spoilage does a spoiler really spoil?

At The Frontal Cortex (a blog you should bookmark), Wired contributing editor Jonah Lehrer reveals his backward reading habits (yes, he likes to peek at the endings first) and cites a study that may indicate people enjoy stories more when they know spoilers ahead of time ("Spoilers Don't Spoil Anything"). Is this why some moviegoers actually want to see trailers that consistently give away not only a movie's major plot developments but the best lines and most memorable (that is, salable) images?

I'm always in favor of spoiler warnings in criticism out of respect for readers, who should be able to choose whether they care about discovering certain developments or twists if they haven't seen the film under discussion yet. If, like Jonah Lehrer, you prefer to know about endings (or story points beyond the basic premise) in advance, then go ahead and watch the trailers or skip to the end of the DVD or peek at the final pages of the book. Nobody's stopping you. But don't try to force your ways on the rest of us. The critic who delights in giving away spoilers is like the drunken heckler who's seen a stand-up comic's act and shouts out the punchlines before the jokes are set up.

I'm also interested in counter-intuitive arguments, however. (I'm fascinated that today's electric cars actually create more pollution and consume more energy than gas-powered vehicles, because of how their batteries are manufactured and charged -- which is not to say that we shouldn't make them, because the greater the demand, the more efficient the production cycle will become. And, of course, the less we rely on coal to generate electricity, the cleaner that process will get.)

While I question the statistical significance of the data in the study Lehrer cites, I do find some of Lehrer's observations intriguing. (I enthusiastically recommend his book about the arts and the brain, "Proust Was a Neuroscientist.") He concludes his post with three "random thoughts," to which I will respond one by one: