Just got word that film critic Phil Villarreal has been laid off by OKMagazine.com, where he's been contributing weekly movie and Blu-ray/DVD reviews since September 2009 as "The PhilmGuy." Villarreal, who was previously the critic at the Arizona Daily Star for eight years, tells me that the site has just gone through a big wave of layoffs, including a "management overhaul" -- and the new folks in charge decided they didn't need him. That's their loss, and potentially another site's gain -- Villarreal still works for the Daily Star as a reporter, but he needs a new place to write criticism, which is his real passion.
Though I've never met Villarreal in person we "Internet met" way back in 2002, when I started writing a biweekly movie column for Kevin Smith's pop culture website, Movie Poop Shoot. He emailed me out of the blue to say he liked what I was doing -- and in the pre-Twitter and pre-Facebook days of Internet film criticism, it meant a lot to know that people were out there reading and appreciating your work, especially when you -- and by you, I mean me -- weren't getting paid a dime but still spent every waking moment away from two internships and a day job hustling and writing. We've kept in touch over the years, and even after he lost his critic's gig at the Daily Star he's continued to produce great reviews for OK and his personal blog. I suspect we get along because of a shared (and somewhat demented) sense of humor. Here is how he began his review of "The Dark Knight Rises:"
"Mmmph blrrg grug Batman glogg freedom raaar!" -- Bane, 'The Dark Knight Rises'
In addition to his
philm film stuff, Villarreal also does video game coverage -- here's a wonderful piece about playing the original "Legend of Zelda" with his son on Kotaku. He's a good writer and a good guy. I hope he's not without a home for his criticism for too long.
Follow Phil Villarreal on Twitter.