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Why the critic still matters at Cannes

By Neil Curry, CNN
updated 7:18 AM EDT, Sat May 24, 2014
Jean-Luc Godard pictured during the filming of
Jean-Luc Godard pictured during the filming of "Sympathy for the Devil" in early 1968. He was a critic before he became a filmmaker.
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • At Cannes Film Festival, at least, the film critic is still alive and kicking
  • CNN's Neil Curry speaks with Hans-Georg Rodek critic for German daily Die Weldt
  • Of criticism, Rodek says: Humanity doesn't really need it but it makes life easier
  • He added: Cannes is the only place on earth where you can see really exciting films today

(CNN) -- If any place on earth was likely to erect a statue to the critic, it may be Cannes.

This year, cinema's most famous critic-turned-director, Jean-Luc Godard, competes for the Palme d'Or at the age of 83 with his first 3D-film "Farewell to Language" -- and the current crop of critics will deliver their verdicts in print, on radio, on television and online to audiences around the world.

Loved and loathed in equal measure, these cinematic scribblers can influence film fans' decisions on whether or not to buy a ticket to the movie theater, so even in a world becoming increasingly dominated by amateur critics on social media there's still a degree of responsibility in delivering honest, considered opinion.

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CNN asked Hans-Georg Rodek, film critic of the respected German newspaper "Die Weldt" (The World), for his take on Cannes and the role of the critic.

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Georg Rodek: First of all, I never felt that critics have all the power. I'm just a film lover and I take that from my experience I'm entitled to talk a little authoritatively about films, that's all. No power. If 'Grace of Monaco was a marvellous film and the critics say it's bad film it will still be successful. But in this case -- and it's not always the case -- both audience and critics were united in saying 'Oh no!'

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CNN: So what exactly do you see as your role?

HGR: It's something that humanity doesn't really need but it makes life easier because if you trust certain critics then you can say 'Ok, he says it's a good film and I never agree with him therefore it's a bad film and the other way around. So that's the way that criticism works.

CNN: So you're providing a public service?

HGR: Exactly. But I'm not a servant. I'm independent. I'm only responsible to myself.

CNN: Sibelius, the composer, is often quoted as saying noone ever set up a statue to a critic. Do you sometimes think they should?

HGR: Not to me, anyway. I think it may well happen some day. Not in Germany, where I come from , not in the U.S. and not in England but perhaps here in France.

CNN: They take them seriously here?

HGR: They take them seriously and they're right to do so but let's just say I'm not suffering from not enough exposure.

CNN: So what do you enjoy about Cannes?

HGR: I enjoy Cannes as I always enjoy Cannes as the only place on earth where you have the chance to see really exciting films nowadays. You don't always get them but let's say one out of five films I see here are really exciting and that's a much better quota than anywhere else.

CNN: Tell me about one of your favorites in the competition.

HGR: I feel that 'Winter Sleep,' the film by the Turkish director Nuri Bilge Ceylan is completely out of time. It is talky, it is long -- about three hours -- it is slow but it's an excellent film.

CNN: And that's the film you like, right?

HGR: That's the film that I like. It's not Bilge Ceylan's masterpiece but I like it exactly because it IS not of our times. It is against the times, it is not quick, it is not superficial and all that is something that you get very rarely these days. And that's it's main quality apart from the fact that it's masterfully crafted.

CNN: Finally, how would you sum up in Cannes in three words?

HGR: Sunny, ambitious and sometimes fulfilling!

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