Film Critic Karina Longworth Leaves the L.A. Weekly

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by Anne Thompson
December 14, 2012 2:40 PM
7 Comments
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Karina Longworth

Friday December 14 is film critic Karina Longworth's last day at the LA Weekly. Three years ago she went to the Weekly, owned by Village Voice Media, to replace Scott Foundas when he split --overloaded and exhausted--to try his hand at programming at the Film Society of Lincoln Center. It is no coincidence that Longworth is now leaving as New York-based Foundas returns to film criticism to replace Jim Hoberman, although she does not say that Foundas has anything to do with her departure.

For a time after Hoberman left the Voice, Longworth was the senior critic for the national Voice Media alternate weekly newspaper chain. With Foundas back, that was no longer the case. Longworth and Foundas both figured out that being both film editor and critic was a losing battle--so both had managed to become writers only, to be able to put some time into their reviews. And Longworth has been enjoying trying her hand at longer form writing. She's planning to freelance and is writing a book on Meryl Streep for Cahiers du Cinema, for whom she wrote a book on George Lucas last year. "This one is longer/more in depth," writes Longworth in an email. "It's the story of her career and craft via critical analysis of ten performances."

When Foundas left the Weekly I was bummed, because I felt we were llosing a powerful critical voice. I feel the same way about Longworth, who I championed to replace him. The NYU Cinema Studies grad helped to build Cinematical, worked at Netscape and Spoutblog, and moved on to her first print job at the Weekly. She's leaving partly because it's hard to practice this craft now. She will, I am sure, find many opportunities to shine as a film and culture writer and will likely be snapped up in due time. I am always ambitious for strong women's voices in film criticism because there aren't enough of them.

Foundas's hire signals VMG's new commitment to film coverage. Besides Longworth, VMG relies on one full time staff writer, one full time editor, and countless freelancers. Let the push begin for Longworth's replacement. Last time round, Variety junior critic Peter Debruge went up for the spot, but was eventually rewarded by increased responsibility after Todd McCarthy was axed by the venerable trade. (McCarthy is happily ensconced at the thriving Hollywood Reporter. That worked out.) Debruge, Variety's senior critic Justin Chang, New York critic John Anderson, MSN's Glenn Kenny (my old colleague at Premiere) and THR's Tim Appelo, once critic at The Oregonian, would all be prime candidates for Longworth's slot. Many critics with strong voices have built cred in the online universe, as Longworth did, from Indiewire's own Eric Kohn to Austin up-and-comer William Goss.

Any other suggestions?

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7 Comments

  • Harmony K. | March 28, 2013 1:33 AMReply

    Karina could also devote her time to being target practice for pie throwers.

  • Scott /ounduzzzzzzz | March 28, 2013 1:31 AMReply

    Good riddance! To paraphrase what Pauline Kael said about Meryl Streep, "Karina Longworth is like some creature from the moon who pretends to be a movie critic."

  • Allie | December 16, 2012 1:02 AMReply

    Add another vote for Stephanie Zacharek. I miss her columns being readily available. I like her individual articulate responses, she doesn't seem to always follow the herd mentality, and I generally trust what she has to say. More women both writing about movies and making them, please.

  • LYT | December 15, 2012 4:23 PMReply

    Brent Simon. As film editor and critic, he singlehandedly brought the only shreds of credibility to Entertainment Today, the late unlamented third alt-weekly L.A. had in the late '90s.

  • Hackett | December 15, 2012 3:44 AMReply

    Plenty of Indie Wire folk should be named here - too many to think of. Cole Abauis , William Goss , and Russ Fischer come to mind as well.

  • Amie | December 14, 2012 3:31 PMReply

    Stephanie Zacharek. Terrific writer whose smart but accessible criticism isnt afraid to go against the critical gain (see: her 2012'Top 10 list on film.com)

  • serpico | December 14, 2012 3:14 PMReply

    Bears a striking resemblance to Flannery O' Connor.

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