Preemptively Missing Boomer Critics


What we'll lose...stinks

When I started in film criticism, as one of the first wave of Gen Xers -- and possibly the last, in print -- my mentality and sacred cows were very different from those of the Boomer critics (and older) in entrenched positions. I had the rebellion of youth; one recently described young me as a gunslinger.

Now, though, I marvel at the kind of stuff I get to hear being in a critics group with them. Folks who'll call Scorsese "Marty" because they knew him in New York, or a discussion on Philip Kaufman, turning into, "Well, when I was on the set of The Right Stuff for weeks, I saw lots of improvisation going on." These folks hail from the days when there was a two-way street of respect, and many critics did indeed go back and forth, sometimes making movies of their own.

What will our generation have? "Hey, remember that time the studio paid for us to go to a pub with Edgar Wright and he pretended to be our best friend so we'd like his movie?" I feel like maybe Harry Knowles scorched the Earth a bit, by getting access to some of those same relationships the Boomers had but using them to bolster his own ego rather than becoming a better scholar or critic.

Boomer critics got paid enough to be critics full time. Hell, I had a couple years of that -- give or take other duties at the paper -- and the notion that you actually had time to catch up on older movies, bone up on filmographies, etc, made me a better writer. Now I'm under so many deadlines at once I have to trust that, 24 years in, even my autopilot is good enough.

What stories will we have to match? I was on the set of Transformers 5 for two days, and Ender's Game over a weekend. Those were fun, and mostly micro-managed. (Michael Bay never lost his temper in front of us.) The only filmmakers I really have lasting relationships with are the ones I either went to USC with, or worked with during my 20s as an indie filmmaker/actor. I guess I have those stories, fairly distinctly from most. Will anyone be left to know who I'm talking about? All my free time these days is spent doing other jobs.

Let's keep the old guard around as long as we can, and learn from them.