Even before I started writing movie reviews on a regular basis, I had a mental rolodex of critics I enjoyed following. Like many movie-lovers, the top of my unwritten list was the late, great Roger Ebert, but not far behind was James Berardinelli, an east coast-based film critic, who was one of the first to do it full-time on the internet.

Berardinelli wasn't like Ebert insofar that he was writing for a newspaper outlet. He wasn't writing for a media website. He began writing movie reviews when the World Wide Web didn't exist, opting to post his reviews as digital bulletins. In 1996, he created his website ReelViews, which he still uses as his central hub for his movie reviews, longer essays, and more.

I was fortunate enough to talk to James Berardinelli on the phone today about his career, his thoughts on the current state of movie theaters, with several films "underperforming" to start the summer movie season, and also get his take on the best and worst films out right now.

Berardinelli couldn't speak highly enough about Richard Linklater's new film, Hit Man, which is currently streaming on Netflix. He called it the best movie available to people, while also citing The Watchers, the new film from M. Night Shyamalan's daughter, and the Amy Winehouse biopic Back to Black as two of the worst movies in theaters right now (both of which I couldn't agree more).

James Berardinelli and his wife. Photo Credit: James Berardinelli
James Berardinelli and his wife, Sheryl. Photo Credit: James Berardinelli

Berardinelli also spoke at length about his relationship with Roger Ebert, and offered some delightful commentary on the state of moviegoing. At a time when consumers are used to watching movies at home via any number of streaming services, it takes a special movie like Barbie or Top Gun: Maverick to get people to theaters in droves. We haven't had a movie like that this year, although he thinks two movies set to release this summer have the potential to do just that.

Berardinelli is a thoughtful speaker and writer, which should come as no surprise to those, such as myself, who visit ReelViews often for his take on the latest release. Take a listen to my interview with James Berardinelli below, and follow him on his website, ReelViews.net!

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