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Am I unemployed yet?

Posted by Ty Burr  June 7, 2006 05:48 PM

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This may be inside baseball to you, but there's an interesting conversation going on in movie-obsessed corners of the net about the future of professional film criticism. In a recent blog entry, Anne Thompson of the Hollywood Reporter talks about the pressures reviewers are facing from both the film industry and their own publishers, and she raises, once again, the vexing question of what exact purpose critics serve. Over at Movie City News, David Poland tweaks and corrects some of Thompson's assumptions, underlining the newspapers-are-dinosaurs meme with a yellow highliter, and Dave Kehr, the New York Times' DVD critic and one of the most erudite (and nicest) people in the business, reports with typical precision and thoughtfulness in two entries (here and here) on the sacking of Jami Bernard (at the New York Daily News) and Michael Wilmington (at the Chicago Trib).

The passionate backlog of reader comments at Kehr's site make particularly good reading, but they also underscore how elitist knowledgable film freaks can get when discussing what and who film reviews are for. I certainly know why I do this: To provide (in no particular order) information, context, entertainment, insight, provocation, recommendation, and warning. Who do I do it for? Not my critical peers, much as I like and admire them, but for my readers -- all the thousands of different types, from couples trying to decide what to see tonight to fanatics who already know everything about Hou Hsiao-hsien or Andrew Bujalski but want to triangulate their opinions off someone else's.

In the end, if I can get someone to see a movie they otherwise wouldn't have considered -- and that movie changes who they are in some infinitesimal way -- then I sleep well.

The question remains whether A) there'll be a newspaper in 20 years for Wesley and me to write in and B) whether there will still be movies as we know them. Man, I wish they'd enable the Comments box on this blog so I could hear your thoughts on the matter. Soon, folks, soon.

On another front, Lawrence Levi's excellent little thought-bomb of a blog, Looker, has a piece on the connection between disgraced lobbyist Jack Abramoff and the notorious Jerry Lewis-goes-to-death-camp movie "The Day the Clown Cried." No smoking gun, unfortunately, but links to a wealth of fun related sites, including novelist Bruce Wagner's acrid envisioning of what might have ensued if "Clown" had ever been released.

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About Movie Nation

Movie news, reviews, and more.


Ty Burr is a film critic with The Boston Globe.

Mark Feeney is an arts writer for The Boston Globe.

Janice Page is movies editor for The Boston Globe.

Tom Russo is a regular correspondent for the Movies section and writes a weekly column on DVD releases.

Katie McLeod is's features editor.

Rachel Raczka is a producer for Lifestyle and Arts & Entertainment at

Emily Wright is an Arts & Entertainment producer for

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