Who needs local movie critics?

April 1, 2008
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The New York Times today reports on the continued trend of newspapers ditching their film critics.

Yes, we’ve discussed cuts in newspaper coverage of the arts here in the past — but this debate is a little different when it comes to movies. If newspapers cut their local music, theater, dance and art coverage, those artistic trees falling in the forest may be heard by a few people, but no one who wasn’t there will know what the forest looked like.

When it comes to film, though, anyone with a computer can visit fandango.com and read a range of opinions on just about any film in release. And most newspapers are continuing coverage — just picking up reviews from other sources instead of using their own writers.

Truth is, there is no shortage of film critics or film writing. But what do we lose when a local paper doesn’t have a local film critic? Do you read the reviews in Nuvo (which maintains its own critic) differently than you do those in the Indianapolis Star (which doesn’t)?

Your thoughts?
  • I usually pay attention to a few movie critics whose opinions over time, I've learned more closely match my own tastes. I think the Nuvo reviewer seems to be jaded much of the time and I've disagreed many times with the reviews. I read EW's reviews, and sometimes when choosing movies to add to my Netflix list, I'll check certain reviewers recommendations. Now, if a movie has consistently crap reviews, regardless of the cred of the reviewers, I'll probably skip it. Do we need all the little guys at all the individual papers? I don't know... maybe not? I hate to say it - but I'm not likely to read the Nuvo movie reviews much. I think when it comes to the other arts, reviews are more helpful, as I may not know as much about the local theaters, art exhibits, ect, and will read the reviews on those matters, in IBJ (of course!), Nuvo, or Indy.com. Movies are pretty mainstream for most people and I think they mostly already know if they like the director, actor, story, ect.
  • Maybe I shouldn't confess this, but I never used to read reviews of any kind until a) I got a day job that required me to read book reviews and, more recently, b) I discovered that I liked writing reviews of live theatre and thought I could get better at it by taking professional reviewers as my role models.

    Before that, I simply had adventures. I took chances. I browsed book stores and libraries. I popped into movie theatres and restaurants. I listened to whatever music the guy I was dating happened to like, and then decided for myself whether or not I liked it, too.

    I am sure that I missed a lot of great stuff, and some people would say that I wasted a lot of time, but I didn’t care. ‘Still don’t. I am as much of a workaholic as the next person, but saving time” is over-rated.

    Now, however, I have discovered that I LOVE reading well-considered reviews of just about anything from reviewers with juicy voices who have dug in to their callings. I love comparing their opinions to my own.

    I also enjoy reading their thoughts on movies, or whatever, that I haven't seen yet. I enjoy imagining what the thing is like in person, based on what they are telling me about their experience of it.

    In other words, when the writing is good, I enjoy the review itself, just for itself. Who knew that “reviews” would become my new favorite art form?

    But Lou asked what we lose when a local paper doesn’t have a local film critic. Maybe the more important question is, “What do we lose when a local paper loses a GOOD local film critic?”

    We lose that much more of our edge as a uniquely desirable place to live, that’s what.

    Hope Baugh

    PS - Thanks to Lou, I only just TODAY discovered Nuvo's film critic, Ed Johnson-Ott. I learned from picking a past review at random that he (Ed) is a man after my own heart when it comes to star ratings. I also like his writing voice. Please don't anyone fire him!
  • We local filmmakers could use local film critics. Even though I could never get Bonnie Britton (The Star) to call me or acknowledge my existence, it was still nice knowing there was someone local who we could contact for that small desperate hope that she might write two or three words about RACSO Motion Pictures.

    Now there's Joe Shearer with Indy.com, and he's very eager to help out the local scene, plus the national market.

    Christopher Allen

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  1. I had read earlier this spring that Noodles & Co was going to open in the Fishers Marketplace (which is SR 37 and 131st St, not 141st St, just FYI). Any word on that? Also, do you happen to know what is being built in Carmel at Pennsylvania and Old Meridian? May just be an office building but I'm not sure.

  2. I'm sorry, but you are flat out wrong. There are few tracks in the world with the history of IMS and probably NO OTHER as widely known and recognized. I don't care what you think about the stat of Indy Car racing, these are pretty hard things to dispute.

  3. Also wondering if there is an update on the Brockway Pub-Danny Boy restaurant/taproom that was planned for the village as well?

  4. Why does the majority get to trample on the rights of the minority? You do realize that banning gay marriage does not rid the world of gay people, right? They are still going to be around and they are still going to continue to exist. The best way to get it all out of the spotlight? LEGALIZE IT! If gay marriage is legal, they will get to stop trying to push for it and you will get to stop seeing it all over the news. Why do Christians get to decide what is moral?? Why do you get to push your religion on others? How would legalizing gay marriage expose their lifestyle to your children? By the way, their lifestyle is going to continue whether gay marriage is legalized or not. It's been legal in Canada for quite a while now and they seem to be doing just fine. What about actual rules handed down by God? What about not working on Sundays? What about obeying your parents? What about adultery? These are in the 10 Commandments, the most important of God's rules. Yet they are all perfectly legal. What about divorce? Only God is allowed to dissolve a marriage so why don't you work hard to get divorce banned? Why do you get to pick and choose the parts of the Bible you care about?

  5. Look at the bright side. With the new Lowe's call center, that means 1000 jobs at $10 bucks an hour. IMS has to be drooling over all that disposable income. If those employees can save all their extra money after bills, in five years they can go to the race LIVE. Can you say attendance boost?