Q&A: Tommy Edison, The Blind Film Critic With a Big YouTube Following

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Tommy Edison the Blind Film Critic

You may have heard of him by now: the film critic who’s never seen a movie.

Tommy Edison only began critiquing films recently, but his video reviews have already gone viral around the web. It’s not just his sense of humor, infectious laugh and affable personality that make his reviews amazing (though, that all helps, of course) — Edison is reviewing these films solely on their sound.

(LIST: 100 best movies of all time)

A radio traffic reporter by day, Edison has been blind his entire life. He’s literally never seen a movie. But his reviews offer sighted people an idea as to what something as simple as watching a film is like from his perspective — and it’s great.  Edison took the time to talk to NewsFeed about reviews, action and what really makes a movie great.

How did you get into film criticism?

Well, I’ve always been interested in film, I’ve enjoyed film and I always thought, you know, this is something I’d like to do one day. And my friend Ben and I — he directs and shoots these pieces — we were sitting around my house one night having a couple of beers and I said, “I’d love to do this.”

And he said, “Well, why don’t we go do it?” And he got online, he went boom, boom, boom, and he said, “Ah, Scream 4. There’s a midnight showing on Thursday. Now you have to work the next morning. Are you in?”

And I said, “yeah!”

And you didn’t give Scream 4 the best review.

Well, if you can’t see it, there’s a lot it’s missing. There’s a lot of long periods in this film where they don’t talk or do anything, and that sort of loses it for me. Now, that doesn’t mean it’s not a great film — it just didn’t work for me.

Well, from your perspective, what is the most important element in a great movie? Is it the dialogue?

Right, the dialogue and the music as well. And the performance. If it’s well written, it’s going to work. I mean, for example, we did Thor and Thor has won the box office two weeks in a row and I just don’t get it. It’s all CGI and all this stuff and it just doesn’t work for me. And I thought the story was a little bit thin, to be honest.

What’s the best movie of the year so far?

The best thing I’ve seen since we’ve started doing this is Bridesmaids, which I just saw this week.

Oh, I haven’t seen it yet!

It’s fun!  It’s a great date movie, there’s a lot of laughs in it, there’s great character development and the writing is strong.  It’s a really good film, you should see it. I think you’d really enjoy it.

(MORE: See TIME’s Bridesmaids review)

Are there any specific genres that don’t play well for you? Are horrors worse than comedies?

Yeah, horrors can be tough because, again, it’s a lot of visual stuff. But you never know. Like I’d always heard the first Die Hard was great, but it’s action so I’d never seen it because I’d just blown it off. But my friend Ben said, “Look, you gotta see this.” And I said, “C’mon, the last ten minutes are going to be completely left out, it’s just going to be visual.” And he said, “Nope, you’ll be able to follow it all the way to the end.”

So it’s hard to say a specific genre is more difficult than others. Again, it’s the writing. But I think horror would be the most difficult one for me. Or foreign films, I think those would be difficult. [laughs]

I have to ask, what’s your favorite movie of all time?

You know I have a couple. There’s an old film that I just love, called Down By Law. It’s got Roberto Benigni and Tom Waits and John Lurie. It’s sort of an oddball thing but I just love it.

And another on that I just love is Clerks. It’s genius. We did a review of that recently because I’d asked Kevin Smith on Twitter what movie he thought would be good for a blind critic to review and he said Clerks because it looked like it was directed by a blind man.

But I’ll tell you, from the beginning of that movie to the end—genius.

Are there any movies coming out of Cannes that you’re excited for?

You know, to be honest, I haven’t really been following. I’ll tell you what I am excited for this summer though: Super 8. That looks like it’s going to be a lot of fun. I hope it’s not too visual, but that looks so cool. I mean, JJ Abrams is just great, you’ve got to love JJ Abrams.

For all of Edison’s reviews, check out his YouTube channel