And so it goes. Many of us saw it coming. But just wouldn’t, couldn’t believe it. But after Ridgeway and Schanberg and Christgau got the axe, a half dozen other senior editors were forced out, and the national syndicate of arts reviewers moved in, it was inevitable that longtime Village Voice film critic/editor Dennis Lim would be next on the chopping block of New Times management.
As Lim leaves the Voice’s pages, so, too, do the auteurs he’s championed over the years, from Guy Maddin to Spike Jonze, Jia Zhang-Ke to David Lynch, Tsai Ming-liang to Hou Hsiao-hsien. Art-house lovers, we’re at the end of an era. Independent distributors IFC Films, Zeitgeist, ThinkFilm, Roadside, Palm, Koch Lorber, Kino, and First Run, if you think you had a friend at alternative weeklies across this country, you can think again. Film critics can also say goodbye to the Voice’s annual film poll — a yearly rite of passage for many critics, both aspiring and established — which I can’t imagine will be renewed under the new management.
Lim — who, full disclosure, edited many of the pieces I wrote for the Voice — came up with some of the most hilarious, witty, insightful, political, sharp-fanged film criticism and film packages over the years. The inspired meta-Adaptation cover package was one of the great achievements, stirring rancor in some; praise in others.
Just this year, Lim bravely went ahead and published the first review of United 93, singling out the jingoistic ending later cut for public consumption. And in one of my favorite recent pieces, Lim had me in stitches with his ripping into Memoirs of a Geisha (“You are! To become! Geisha!”).
I have no doubt that Lim will end up on his feet — witness his several recent pieces for the New York Times. It’s the rest of us readers I’m worried about. As venerable Voice critic J. Hoberman hangs by a thread, one of the last remaining vestiges of the original paper, it’s come time to realize that for those who want a truly alternative newsweekly, throw in the towel, accept the end, the Voice is dead.