Walter Bernstein and J. Hoberman at Film Society's “Jew Wave” series. Photo by John Wildman
With the good comes the bad this week in the New York film critic community. As one prominent critic gets a new high profile gig for a world famous newspaper, a respected editor is laid off for budgetary reasons.
We're happy to report that two frequent Film Comment contributors have been in the news as of late. This week it was announced that J. Hoberman, a longtime staff critic for Village Voice (a publication which sadly let him go back in January 2012) has been hired to take over The New York Times’ weekly DVD column. This spot opened, you may remember, when Dave Kehr decided to leave his position at the Times for the role of Adjunct Curator in MOMA’s film department. Kehr, a former critic for the Chicago Tribune and Chicago Reader, begins his venture on December 1. Although many hope Kehr’s writing output does not diminish, the appointment of Hoberman at the Times marks a consistent streamline of quality, and he will begin helming the DVD column on January 26.
On a less upbeat note, this morning brought some rather sad news. David Fear, the Film Editor and frequent film critic for Time Out New York, is being let go as the publication looks to become “more nimble, more profitable, more innately multi-platform and better equipped to innovate and focus on growth initiatives.” Impersonal as it is, this has unfortunately become the method of thinking when companies decide to diminish staff positions.
The outpouring of support from writers who were edited by Fear has been trickling in. Sam Adams of Indiewire (also a contributor to Time Out New York) weighed in: “There's no getting around this: David Fear was, apparently until yesterday, my editor at TONY, and is also a good friend. But I'm not the only one who feels that severing him from the publication represents both a huge loss and huge mistake.” Matt Singer, also edited under Fear, tweeted out: “Fear is a fabulous editor and critic. This is grade A baloney.” Fear's last day with the publication will be November 27th.
To report on important critics and colleagues in the film community losing their well-earned positions is a task not worth savoring. Nonetheless, it is becoming a frequent one and each should be noted accordingly. As the noise gets louder, more will take notice.