Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Closing the door on a career in professional film criticism

I'm not a strong believer in meanings arising from cycles or circles in life, but it would be impossible to ignore the symmetry of recent activity on the film blogging circuit. About a week after a one of the great professional critics has entered the film blogging cycle (Roger Ebert), another will be departing. Today I heard the news of Matt Zoller Seitz's retirement from the print criticism; a shock to us all. It's not initially a comforting thought knowing that film criticism is losing one of its best practitioners, but after reading the conversation between him and Keith Uhlich, now the lone editor of The House Next Door, I feel only happiness for Matt as he enters a new stage in his life. His criticism won't be in print anymore, but it will be alive in his filmmaking.

Below is the comment I left for Matt over at The House Next Door:

"I guess there isn't too much I can say in the way of gratitude and best wishes that hasn't been said here already. But I would like to wish you the best of luck anyway! As many here have said, you will certainly be missed, and it's to our good fortunate that you'll still be around as a commenter and sometimes poster.

Unfortunately, I haven't participated as much in these forums/discussions as I would have liked. But if there's one thing I've learned from reading your work here and elsewhere, it's that this form of writing requires participation and devotion to accompany the written thoughts of one person. I have learned that this right here -- the community, the discussion, and the real-life critical dialogue -- is criticism. Like filmmaking, criticism is really a collaborative effort in some capacity, and I've learned that in my own writing, and especially in my initial visits to this site several years ago before I even knew what film blogging was.

I am saddened that you will be leaving this "great experiment"
[of blogging] that you've had such a strong hand in building. Although, much to my regret, we haven't interacted much over my time in the blogosphere, your comments on my blog and links here at The House mean a great deal to me. Knowing that you drop in over at my place from time to time, I consider it a privilage to keep pushing myself to be a responsible participant in this format of criticism. Who knows where we'll end up taking this thing, but whether you're actively part of it or not, you'll be a great presence in it."

Best of luck to you in your filmmaking endeavors, Matt! I look forward to your future criticism, whether that's in words or images. And don't forget, your comments are always welcome here.

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