Thursday, October 22, 2009

Leitch At The Movies

Ex-Black Table, ex-Deadspin, now New York Magazine scribe Will Leitch occasionally posts movie reviews on his blog. Even in his casual, spare-time way, he's a better, more perceptive film critic than the vast majority of the full-time professionals currently writing for major publications (unfortunately, that pool is shrinking rapidly). Try comparing his most recent batch of reviews with those for the same movies in your publication of choice* and see if you agree (and don't miss the priceless Soderbergh anecdote). His recent, perhaps overgenerous, Tarantino apology, which helped me overcome my reluctance to see Inglourious Basterds**, is also well worth a look.

As I'm fond of telling people when his name comes up, I've been reading Leitch since about 1993 or 4. We attended the same school, and I consumed lots of his sports reporting and movie reviews in the (surprisingly professional - you actually had to pay a subscription) daily college newspaper. Although he was clearly passionate about sports, I always assumed that he'd end up as a film critic, following in the footsteps of the man he often cited as his inspiration, Roger Ebert***. Given the current state of that profession, he was probably right to take a different path, at least financially, but I can't help thinking that the little world of people who read and write about movies would be better off if Will Leitch's voice had a more prominent place in it.

*I really need to see A Serious Man, if for no other reason than to see how it can inspire such night-and-day different takes as Leitch's - he thinks it may be their best work - and Ella Taylor's frontal assault on the Coens in the Village Voice, in which she comes very close to accusing them and the film of contributing to anti-Semitism.

**I was glad I changed my mind. Though I thought QT made some questionable calls along the way, Basterds managed to justify, and seem quite a bit shorter than, it's 152-minute running time, no mean feat.

***I want to take this opportunity to mention that Ebert, probably because he became so TV famous, is generally, and shamefully, underrated as a critic. I'm sure a lot of intelligent people who think of him as some kind of middlebrow joke would reconsider if they read some of his writing (good examples of which are accumulating rapidly on his very active blog).

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