01/30/11 354 W - + 5 - 6 News & Observer Closes Office of Film Criticism

Which is a fancy way of saying that they've fired their last film critic. Craig Lindsay and nineteen other staffers recently received their walking papers, reports this Independent Weekly story. Lindsay was the last daily film critic working in North Carolina. The story is good reading on the state of film and film criticism.

Prior to being a fire blogger, Yours Truly was a movie critic. Started in college at NCSU. Resumed after returning to school in 1992, for additional undergraduate course work. Published in the school paper, The Technician. Even won an award one year, in the category of criticism at the state or maybe national level.

Leaving school, my reviewing continued as postings to the USENET newsgroups rec.arts.movies.reviews. Plus a private mailing list. After a few years, they were posted to a web site, which was later named Movie Hell.

For several years, I saw two or three movies a week. Wrote reviews on the weekend, and posted on Sunday. Saw and reviewed some 150 films per year. Ranged from blockbusters to art films. Toward the end, saw a lot of free movies. Maybe once a week, during a mid-week promotional screen.

Went cold turkey in 2001. Just lost interest in it. Had had enough. The archives are still available, however. They total 1063 reviews, plus 157 other pieces. The latter included anything from reader mail (with sarcastic responses) to Oscar predictions to rants about quality at local theaters.

Everything worked out well. Saw a ton of good movies, in addition to the truckloads of crap. Developed a critical eye and a better ability at critical thinking. And learned how to write (or at least got better at writing). The better to later blog with, my dear.

Oh, and what movies lately have I liked? Here's a quick recap. True Grit is pretty good, though I never really settled into Jeff Bridges' performance. Plus he sounds exactly like Billy Bob Thornton in Swing Blade. The Green Hornet is awfully fun and fairly awful. The King's Speech is an absolute delight. Good historical peek at British royalty, too.

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