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"Hurt Locker" Wins 6, Variety Loses 2

The Auteurs Daily

The Hurt Locker

Hours after the film industry had presented itself with a victory worth celebrating — Best Film and Best Director Oscars, among others, for The Hurt Locker and Kathryn Bigelow (total score on Sunday night: Six, on top of all those Baftas and critics' honors) — its top trade publication sent out a chilling Monday morning reminder that times are still tough. "Variety has laid off its longtime chief film critic Todd McCarthy," reports Ben Fritz for the Los Angeles Times. "Neil Stiles, publisher of the Hollywood trade paper, said that chief theater critic David Rooney is being let go as well. 'We are eliminating all full-time review staff for film and theater,' he said."

According to Fritz, Variety will carry on running as many reviews as ever, about 1200 a year, but rely exclusively on freelancers and "in-house staffers" to churn them out. The move follows the publication's decision to retreat behind a pay wall, which will likely reduce readership considerably and, by extension, influence, as well as the loss of Michael Fleming, a reporter who once broke stories for Variety on a regular basis, to Deadline Hollywood. For Glenn Kenny, McCarthy was "a representation of the paper's verities, which have been coming under some scrutiny in the wake of a missing-review debacle. McCarthy, aside from being a very fine and thoroughly knowledgeable critic, was kind of an axiom; this is a cost-cutting move that will likely backfire on the publication, because the more figures like McCarthy that Variety loses, the less claim the paper has in terms of actually standing for something.'"

The post-Oscar read of the day: "Despite all the snarky comments I've been getting, both about the film itself and about the director's two acceptance speeches, I remain unrepentetly thrilled that Kathryn Bigelow won the Best Director and Best Film Oscars for The Hurt Locker," writes Steven Shaviro. "There are just some times when, for me at least, rampant and delirious auteurism trumps everything. I have loved Bigelow's films ever since I first saw Near Dark in 1987. My book The Cinematic Body (1993) begins with a discussion of Bigelow's 1990 film Blue Steel; and I wrote a long article on Bigelow's Strange Days (1995) for this volume. There are just certain directors — not many — who captivate my gaze, and won't let it go. Bigelow and Abel Ferrara are the only two American directors of their (and my) generation to do so."

Update: Anne Thompson has updated her story on Variety's Monday Morning Massacre so that it's now one of the most detailed accounts so far; and David Poland and the LAT's Patrick Goldstein aren't seeing much of a future for the publication.

Updates, 3/9: "Todd McCarthy is not a man Variety should have lightly dismissed," writes Roger Ebert in a terrific appreciation. "He is the longest-serving and best-known member of the paper's staff, and if they made such a drastic decision, we are invited to wonder if Variety itself will long survive."

Sharon Waxman asks McCarthy how he's doing and, "Does Variety lose its identity through a move like this?" Answer: "Personally I think it does."

Update, 3/10: "The producers of Iron Cross sued Variety on Tuesday, claiming the trade lured the indie film into a $400,000 promotion campaign with promises of Oscar attention that would lead to a major distribution deal — then trashing it all with a scathing review." Sharon Waxman reports on an across-the-board breach of the sanity clause.

Updates, 3/11: For Time Out New York, Adam Feldman talks with ex-Variety theater critic David Rooney: "[W]e all have reason to be concerned about this ongoing erosion of arts coverage."

Meanwhile, McCarthy is "in talks to go to the Cannes International Film Festival as the newest member of the New York Film Festival selection committee," reports Anne Thompson. "An official announcement is expected shortly."

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Even a brain dead numb nuts with no military experience should have wondered why the terrorist trigger man didn’t just blow up the damn bomb instead of letting someone defuse it. Every single time that idiot walked up to a live IED I wondered why the guy holding the remote detonator didn’t just pull the trigger!?! More holyweird liberal anti-war propaganda – trying to show how stupid we are for being at war in the first place. Hey libs – remember when you tried to make us lose the war in Iraq by resisting the surge? Too bad for you the surge actually worked – we’re winning and you hate it don’t you. More bad news; remember when your loser parents made us lose in Vietnam? Well the vietnamese people we promised to help were left defenseless – and by making us surrender/lose that war – you helped murder 2,500,000 innocent vietnamese citizens. This movie makes our military seem like idiots and adrenaline junkies with a death wish. Come one people: good war or not; we must win. Stop buying this bs propaganda.
my loser parents didn’t cause anyone to lose vietnam and I posit that they could still maim your loser parents derrières at any given moment. name your costco parking lot; it’s on.
Jacob
@Simple Man Wait . . . what??
Simple Man, although he’s right about the bombs (they have the technology and have been known to use radio controlled detonators so why would they hold off?) but everything else… bat shit crazy! I didn’t for one moment think that this movie was about how war makes ppl into adrenaline junkies or about how stupid the war is. News flash, partner: they HIRE adrenaline junkies, not make them. The movie, I thought, as more or less about how, just like any job, participation in the war can become such a part of your life that “normal” life isn’t an option anymore.
Either way, Oscar worthy it ain’t. Lots of plot holes (like the IED bombs that just sit around and are never detonated EVER) and the same hair-raising gimmick over and over again for an entire movie. But the Academy Awards are all politics; it was the perfect movie for the Obama-era.
I loved it. period. Inaccuracies or not, it made me feel I was there… The sniper duel in the desert was priceless cinematography ! Did Avatar make you feel that ? What other movie would you have given the Oscar to ? @simple-man It’s a movie mah man.. a movie. A story.. not a documentary. I don’t see anyone complaining about plot holes in “StarTrek” do you ? Oh.. by the way.. what were you doing in Vietnam anyway.. ?

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