"I lost it at the movies"

Dateline: Wed 29 Nov 2006

The late, great Pauline Kael was to movie critics what salt and butter are to popcorn: she added taste. But she is long gone, lamentably, and so are local movie/film critics in general -- not only at the Star, but at newspapers around the nation.

An avid blog-reader and a Star ex-pat recently sent the following link from the Orlando Sentinel -- the gist is the loss of local movie critics at papers around the nation:

http://blogs.orlandosentinel.com/entertainment_movies_blog/2006/11/the_dying_speci.html

The column is "Frankly My Dear...Movies with Roger Moore."

Among Moore's important observations about movies and the role of the critic:

"...when a paper loses its critic, a town loses another local voice. The 'we can run wire service reviews' line may be true. But heaven help the movies the day we're down to a couple of critics in the largest markets syndicated everywhere. There aren't many who would play all over America.

"Movie reviewing takes in all segments of the culture. You find yourself writing about societal issues, taking the pulse of the artistic opinion-makers when documentaries become avidly environmental, or reveal a rising tide of sentiment against a war, a president or a political philosophy. Mainstream films reflect the same shifts, be they Hollywood efforts at capturing the suddenly discovered Christian Passion audience, a skepticism about government or a need to escape news that is otherwise too glum to wallow in. You draw criticism from conservatives who hate that filmmakers are making movies about racism, the environment or the Iraq quagmire. Liberals blast you for not worshipping Who Killed the Electric Car?

"Movie critics were ahead of the curve on the collapse of American manners (rude movie-goers), the infantilization of the culture through movies that were increasingly aimed at reaching the people still going to movies--kids. Whatever you thought of the films of 2004, when The Passion of the Christ did four times the business of Fahrenheit 9/11, the movie-savvy knew which way the wind was blowing."

etc. etc. etc.

Or to quote Indy's own Lou Harry, an editor of Indy Men's magazine, speaking in general on the dearth of the Star's arts coverage:

"Once you lose the respectability of your voice, once you lose the credibility, it is very hard to build it up again."

The Star has long lost that. But thank God, there's "that noise," on the Internet.

comments: ruth@ruthholladay.com

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