The news broke yesterday that J. Hoberman, who’s been writing for numerous outlets since he was laid off from the Village Voice in January of 2012, will be taking over the New York Times‘ “Home Video” column beginning next year. (Former columnist Dave Kehr left to become an adjunct curator for film at the Museum of the Modern Art.) Well, “broke” — funny story there. Turns out the announcement actually ran in a small box in the Times print edition on Sunday, which means it was delivered to subscribers on Saturday, yet little notice was taken until Kehr mentioned it on his Twitter feed yesterday.
Kehr, who sits on the Library of Congress’ National Film Preservation Board, used the Times column in part as a bully pulpit to urge studios to better manage their catalogue holdings: His final column was devoted to a boxed set of five lesser-known John Ford films. Hoberman often writes well on classic films, as in this recent piece on Samuel Fuller’s Shock Corridor, but he has closer ties to the avant garde and devoted his most recent book, Film After Film, to analyzing how digital technology affects the current and future state of the art. Here he is on Gravity:
To watch Gravity on the huge IMAX screen [is] to appreciate the power of illusion — what Andre Bazin described as “total cinema.” The movie is a virtual reality predicated on the plenitude of absence, the being of nothingness. In an act of technological prestidigitation, Cuaron has created a sense of unlimited space where the mind knows that none actually exists.
There’s no question that Kehr’s column left a mark on digital film culture; it will be interesting to see what kind of mark Hoberman leaves.