As inured as we are to the ongoing crisis in newspaper publishing that leads to the seemingly inevitable layoffs of our best veteran film critics, I am upset that Village Voice Media, which has been shedding employees steadily for the past few years, has finally let go of Jim Hoberman. He has been an institution at the Village Voice for most of my adult life–he joined the staff in 1983 and became their senior critic in 1988–and has earned the respect of his peers.
Hoberman is an independent voice. He doesn’t write like anyone else. (And I can testify, having edited him at Film Comment, that no one writes cleaner copy.) He’s sober, clear, discerning, and defines integrity. Hoberman told New York Vulture:
“I’ve seen a lot of people lose their jobs there in the last five years. I would be disingenuous to say I hadn’t considered the possibility that this would happen to me eventually. I was shocked, but not surprised. It’s not the same paper that I started working at.”
Picking up the slack will be LA Weekly critic Karina Longworth, who is adept at picking up readers online, and the remaining national film staff. Here’s Hoberman’s profile at Metacritic, which ranks his reviews from best to worst. Top five films are:
1. “The White Ribbon”: “Detailed yet oblique, leisurely but compelling, perfectly cast and irreproachably acted, the movie has a seductively novelistic texture complete with a less-than-omniscient narrator.”
2. “4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days”: “Romanian writer-director Cristian Mungiu’s brilliantly discomfiting second feature is one long premonition of disaster.”
3. “Killer of Sheep”: “‘Killer of Sheep’ is an urban pastoral–an episodic series of scenes that are sweet, sardonic, deeply sad, and very funny.”
4. “Pan’s Labyrinth”: “Literally and figuratively marvelous, a rich, daring mix of fantasy and politics.”
5. “There Will Be Blood”: “This is truly a work of symphonic aspirations and masterful execution.”
There will be places for Hoberman to continue his writing about film. But an era is truly over.