“Know Your Critic” is a new column in which we interview Tomatometer-approved critics about their screening and reviewing habits, pet peeves, and personal favorites.
“My favorite movie when I was a kid was Angels in the Outfield – it was not a very good movie,” she told Rotten Tomatoes in an interview. “It’s one of those films that I know is not great, but I’ll always treasure in my heart because of how much I loved that movie when I was 10.”
It’s not that she loves everything she sees (who does?), but rather that she’s excited when something surprising or unusual comes along – like last year’s Cats (of which she’s a super-fan) or anything by the Wachowskis – and given that she sometimes sees as many as five movies a day, it can be pretty hard to surprise her.
“A person who’s not a film critic and watches a dozen films a year might be like, ‘Oh, that was surprising,’” she said. “And I’m like, ‘I saw four other films with the same flaws and kind of the same themes.’”
Han is Deputy Entertainment Editor at Mashable. She previously co-hosted the Popcorn and Prosecco podcast (with Perri Nemiroff and Kristy Puchko) and served as Managing Editor at Slashfilm.
What do you think is people’s biggest misconception about critics?
I think it’s the whole “film critics want to hate a movie” thing. I’m only human of course, so I’m sometimes coming to this movie like, “Ah, I don’t like this actor,” so I’ve got to sit through it. But at the end of the day, almost all the time I am delighted to be pleasantly surprised, even if my expectations are low.
When my expectations are high, I’m hoping to come out of the movie feeling like I’m very excited and transformed. I don’t know where this idea came from that we want to hate the movies, but it’s been my experience that it’s not true.
Is there an actor or director or screenwriter whose work you always love? Someone who regardless of what they make, you know you’re going to watch it?
The Wachowskis – whenever they’re on something, I’m always dying to see what it is. And a lot of times, even if it’s something that I don’t end up loving, I end up finding something about it is really interesting to me. Like Jupiter Ascending, I don’t think people love that one, but I thought it was fascinating.
What is the hardest review you’ve ever written?
I don’t know what the hardest review is… But, if I may, the easiest thing I’ve ever written was when Mad Max: Fury Road came out. I wrote an essay about that and I don’t know why, but that was by far the easiest thing I’ve ever written. I was done in a couple hours. It was just very fast for me and, to this day, I’m still chasing that high and hoping that will happen again.
If you could create your own awards category, what would it be?
I concur with the many other people who have said that it is absolutely bananas that we don’t have a stunts category.
Do you have something from this year that you would want to win if the stunts category existed?
I feel like the people in the John Wicks have done a lot of really great work that is maybe not being recognized as much by awards hype organizations.
Who are three people that you think everyone should follow on Twitter?
Can I start with one person I think everyone should follow on Instagram and not necessarily for “It’ll make you a better critic reasons,” just for delightful reasons? Kate Beckinsale is so fun on Instagram and she’s just a weirdo. I have told so many people to follow her on Instagram and I have had no dissatisfied customers yet.
Is there an under-the-radar director or screenwriter that you think more people should know about?
Lila Aviles. She did The Chambermaid, which came out last year. That was her feature directing debut and I thought it was just astonishing, very confident and very sensitive, so I’m really curious to see what else she’s going to do.
Oh, another director whose movie I saw last year was Pippa Bianco, who did Share. And I don’t think it’s a movie that got a lot of buzz. It was like kind of a smaller release, but I thought that it showed a lot of promise and made me really curious to see more of her work.
Is there an up-and-coming critic that you want people to check out?
Siddhant Adlakha. His work is kind of all over the place. He has a lot of really smart things to say, and a really unique insight into all sorts of different things. He writes about Indian cinema a lot, he writes about superhero cinema. He’s really broad and his take, even when I don’t agree with him, always seem very well thought out.
Do you have a favorite classic film?
This is where I can say a really cliché thing. Goodfellas is just one of those films, that every time I see even a few minutes of it or something, I’m delighted to come into it again.
What are you most proud of in your career so far?
Not getting into that many Twitter wars. That’s probably not my greatest accomplishment as a critic, but I do like to not get into that many Twitter wars with people. That’s always nice.
Do you have any advice for critics who are still finding their voice?
Don’t be afraid of editors. They’re there to help you. Mainly.
You tweeted recently that the revision process is one of your favorite parts of writing. Is that something that happened after you became an editor or has that always been true for you?
I think I’ve always liked getting some kind of feedback. Very early in my career, I was always very scared to show people what I wrote… Now it helps that I really like my editor that I work with. I do find it to be so tremendously helpful because I think a lot of writers – no matter where they are in their career – are kind of familiar with that point in the writing process, when you start to be like, “Am I making any sense? Is this complete gibberish?” I have found it so helpful to have someone else come in and add their perspective and kind of clarify things for me.
And now, some Cats questions…
I have seen it four times.
What keeps you going back to see this movie?
The first time I saw it just because it was a press screening. But the few times after that, it’s become more of a social activity. I like making people watch it. I like watching it with other people who want to watch it.
The second time I saw it was because one of my friends was adamantly refusing to see it and I just forced him to, basically. He pretends he had a terrible time and yet he keeps talking about it – so I think secretly, he had a great time.
Are there any other movies in your entire lifetime that you’ve seen that have induced the level of disbelief, euphoria, mania that you experienced while watching Cats?
None that I can remember off the top of my head, which is one of the reasons that I liked it so much… It’s probably not a great movie by a lot of the kind of standards that we usually apply. However, I walked out being like, “I have never seen anything like that.” And I feel like, if you’re a film critic who watches lots and lots of lots of movies, it gets actually pretty hard to be surprised.
Cats was one of the few times that I walked out like no, truly, truly I have never seen anything like that.