Criticism is companionship. For those growing up in communities where art is not a subject of everyday conversation, aesthetic experience can be isolating and bewildering, a site of powerful emotions and challenging ideas that one navigates alone. Before assuming a position as tastemaker or teacher, the critic is first a kind of imaginary friend—someone who can share that lonely space and justify the intensity of the reader’s feelings. This sense of fellowship can arise even when the writer’s personality is so flamboyant and vision so totalizing that there appears to be little room for dialogue. Film criticism in particular is filled with loud voices, hot tempers, and gauntlet-throwing pronouncements, befitting an insecure young medium whose enshrinement as art once demanded defense. As quaint as they may seem now, the long-standing debates that have fueled this tradition—throwdowns over everything from authorship to form to representation—have been opportunities for writers to perform their passions, to assert that movies are indeed worth getting riled up about.