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. Time Out, which closed its Chicago print edition in April, eliminating Film Editor Ben Kenigsberg and critic A.A. Dowd, said it’s looking to “leverage global efficiencies through an integrated global editorial team and the externalization of listings,” which translates to something like recycling content among its various editions — expect some London bylines to start turning up in Manhattan — and outsourcing gruntwork.
Budgets shrink and positions get cut; to deny that is to ignore the reality of modern media. But it’s hard to see how cutting back on film coverage in one of the world’s great film cities is a good idea. Fear, who was at the San Francisco Bay Guardian for six years before joining Time Out New York in 2004, is a great writer, and any publication with its eye on the long term would be smart to snap him up. Criticwire has reached out to him for comment, but for now we’ll close with a sample from his 12 Years a Slave review, a piece of which the invariably self-deprecating Fear was uncommonly proud.
In one of those odd confluences of timing, McQueen’s movie opens after two other films this year — Fruitvale Station and Lee Daniels’ The Butler — that examine race in America from numerous angles, measuring strides taken and distances to be covered. Here, we are shown the beginning of that journey, and bear witness to the hurt acquired along the way. There’s a moment near the end of 12 Years a Slave where Ejiofor glances away from the horizon and directly into the camera; the look in his eyes conveys a legacy of anguish and several generations’ will to survive. More than a century has passed since the events depicted onscreen. Yet in that second, as you sift through your own feelings of sorrow and rage, the movie does not feel like it’s about the past at all.