I trust Mark Kermode for two reasons –The Ninth Configuration and Dougal and the Blue Cat.
You are more likely to be aware of the Dougal movie than The Ninth Configuration. It is a magnificent feature-length display of Eric Thompson’s imagination, the man who scripted the French children’s series The Magic Roundabout by watching the original in silence and working out what plot he could attach to the onscreen antics. Who would expect the line “I bet this never happened to Sergei Eisenstein” to crop up in a work considered to be most suitable for the under-fives.
The Ninth Configuration, written and directed by The Exorcist’s William Peter Blatty, and set in an asylum for military men who have suffered breakdowns, includes a soldier who is attempting to put on an all-dog version of Hamlet and is infuriated to be sent a dog with a lisp.
As this makes abundantly clear, Kermode is a man of incredibly good taste and he is now the first person I turn to for film reviews because he really seems to care. When he is outraged or infuriated by a film it is because he respects cinema both as an art form and an entertainment form.
It is also very clear that he loves movies. He doesn’t merely criticise, he illuminates. I am wary of listening to critics before watching a film, but his reviews of both First Man and A Star is Born added to rather than subtracted from the films I saw. Kermode is right, the theremin is the loneliest sound in the world.