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Emmys 2017
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'Remember Me,' Robert Pattinson, and movie reviews: Can you keep a secret?

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remember-meJust so we’re clear: If you’re allergic to spoilers of any kind, stop reading right here. Really. Right here. Not that I think I’m including any spoilers in this item. But you never know. Maybe just mentioning the word “spoiler” is some kind of spoiler? You tell me.

Where was I? Oh, right: As you have read (in my own review), Robert Pattinson from Twilight and Emilie de Ravin from Lost play a pair of tragically star-crossed lovers in the exceeding tragic tragedy of all teen tragedies Remember Me. But what you didn’t read in my own review — although you may well have read elsewhere — is that Remember Me has a surprise ending. In fact, if you’re someone who likes to jump the gun, maybe because you’re never going to see the movie, you can easily find the facts about that ending elsewhere online, all over the place. I’m not even going to link to where you can read the details, because I don’t see the point. As I said, if you’re interested, you’ve probably found out already. The truth is out there.

Meanwhile, that truth has got me thinking about the challenge of writing responsibly, thoughtfully, and usefully about movies in an age of viral communication. It’s a cinch for anyone to spill the beans to the whole movie-going world with a push of a SEND button. And even when beans aren’t being spilled, sometimes reading anything at all about a movie before you’ve seen it dilutes the experience. (I know it does for me.) Yet how are you going to consider whether to see a movie in the first place if you don’t read about it? And how can I, as a professional critic, write meaningfully about any movie I’m analyzing without sometimes, somehow, including information you may not want to know? Sure, I can write something like, “and then stuff goes wrong,” rather than specifying the wrongness. But is even that TMI?

I’m considering these questions a lot these days as the warp speed of Internet communication irrevocably alters the quality and meaning of cultural discourse. It’s not exactly news that the role of movie criticism as part of a robust, culturally literate society is undergoing change — especially when anyone calling herself a critic, blogger, citizen journalist, muckraker, or fangirl can feel she’s breaking news by being the very first to tweet an opinion immediately after (or even more obnoxiously, during) the very first screening of one movie or another. Oooh, first! Big deal.  Personally, I don’t think there’s any value at all in first-ness, or in instant analysis and competitive punditry, and certainly not in spoiling surprise endings.

But, hey, I really want to talk about the ending of Remember Me with you! The subject is really interesting! And if you can read all about it elsewhere on the Internet at this very minute, when’s the right time for me jump in?

You tell me.