And Then There Were None: Critics on Death Watch

by Anne Thompson
March 27, 2008 4:55 AM
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Smashed TypewriterI'm late to weigh in on the news that the Village Voice had axed film critic Nathan Lee earlier this week (which was neither as juicy nor as surprising as the in-fighting that followed on The Reeler). Word has it that revenues are way, way down at the chain and at least one of our friends at the LA Weekly will likely be pounding the pavements before the week is out.

Grim news -- and this on the heels of the housecleaning 18 months earlier that resulted in Village Voice Media axing a number of its best critics and consolidating them into fewer posts. I must confess, Lee's flip style and breathless rant-rave reviews (riffs, really) turned me off from Day One, as he immediately began to supply the paper with the polar opposite of Dennis Lim's erudite and eloquent analyses.

But the chain didn't let Lee go because he offended the sensibilities of those like me, and the fact that there could me more casualties to come signals the ongoing implosion of our shared profession, at least as far as print is concerned. Over at the The House Next Door, Matt Zoller Seitz predicts, "I think we're fast approaching the point where criticism will become, for the most part, a devotion rather than a job."

For the record, Variety's 30-or-younger critics (that would be Justin Chang and yours truly) concur that the Weekly's Scott Foundas is fast emerging the most important critic of our generation, and the alt-weekly format seems to be the perfect platform for him to champion at considerable length (I hope you caught his excellent Michael Haneke profile) the merits of movies that guys like us are too junior to cover for Variety.

(Peter Debruge)

[Originally appeared on Variety.com]

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