The Movie Club 2005

Goodbye to All This
Critic vs. critic.
Dec. 29 2005 5:47 PM

The Movie Club 2005

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Now that we have lamented the state of the Fray and extolled the flourishing Internet culture of formidable twentysomething movie lovers, all that remains is a last flurry of self-congratulation. Well, maybe one thing after that ...

Jonathan, I don't remember Scott's letter to Variety at all—which means that it's not why he's in the Movie Club. (If I'd seen it, he'd have been invited years earlier.) Anyone who doesn't read him in the L.A. Weekly is missing the next irreplaceable critic. (And he's a twentysomething, too.) Jonathan, I look to you (and your books) as a guide through this new world of DVDs—in which the buried treasures have been bubbling to the surface with breathtaking frequency. Your note about living-room film societies is something I hadn't considered. Having just shelled out for a widescreen HDTV (no, I'm not a zillionaire—this is my first new TV in 20 years and it's for work, i.e., tax-deductible), I'm thinking of hosting monthly movie clubs myself. I've already been a guest (via phone) at one that my mom and dad belong to—I tried to put Chinatown in its historical context (both the '30s, when it's set, and the '70s, when it was made) for a group that included the rabbi who'd bar-mitzvahed me. And Scarecrow—I mean, Tony. You've classed up this place since you first leapt onto the scene—via Slate, readers might recall.

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And now the hard part.

In the summer of '96, Slate's first New York editor, Judith Shulevitz, was brave enough (you don't know how brave) to give me a shot at writing for this nebulous new magazine in this nebulous new medium. (My first review was of Bravo's Inside the Actors Studio.) I could never have dreamed of the adventure to come—the generous colleagues, the passionate readership, and the freedom (no space limitations, no dead trees) to go where inspiration (or lack thereof) took me. Posting my e-mail address from the start, I was blindsided by the abuse, humbled by the lucid exceptions, and downright befuddled by the praise—until I gradually learned to relax and dig the whole crazy Internet circus. I also learned to linger online for an hour after posting each review for the inevitable slew of e-mails pointing out egregious errors of fact that could quickly be expunged from the public record.

To build that kind of readership, to see this magazine find its form and flower, and, in the same nine and a half years, to get married and have two little girls who beggar my limited arsenal of adjectives … Well, my cup runneth over, spilleth onto the floor, and raineth down on the neighbors below—a sign that it's time to let someone else move in and refurbish the joint. I don't know who that will be—only that I'll be wildly jealous. This is a precious space.

My future columns will also be online, just a click away, but I will not be so ill-mannered as to link to that site here. And someday, perhaps, if I work hard and suck up to the right people, I'll be lucky enough to be invited to join the Movie Club.

David Edelstein

David Edelstein isSlate's film critic. He can be contacted at slatemovies@slate.com. Scott Foundas is film editor and a critic for LA Weekly. Jonathan Rosenbaum is the film critic for the Chicago Reader. A.O. Scott is a film critic for the New York Times.

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