Some people avoid violent films, while others watch little else. Professional movie reviewers, who may see hundreds of films annually, cannot afford to be so picky. If you are covering the Cannes Film Festival competition, as I did one year for the Screen International daily critics' poll, you cannot blow off a film on grounds of genre ("I hate action movies!"), sexual politics ("The director is a misogynist!") or body count ("A dozen dead in the trailer alone!"). In fact, the best films at Cannes or elsewhere often challenge, shock and disturb. If, as a critic, you can't handle that, you should find another line of work.

But as much as we claim to be hardened types who can take anything the screen throws at us, we critics are people too. We may not write about the death of our dogs or the breakup of our marriages or any other personal turmoil in our reviews, but there are inevitably echoes — or silences.

When I saw "Aku no Kyoten (Lesson of the Evil)," Takashi Miike's 2012 thriller about a psychotic teacher who takes a shotgun to his own class, it reminded me too uncomfortably of the then-recent mass slaying of teenagers in Norway by a lunatic who resembled Miike's hero in his deadly implacability. I wondered whether my anger about the real-life massacre might spill over into my review. Rather than raise my blood pressure, I simply skipped reviewing "Lesson of the Evil."