Last month we pleaded with the L.A. Times to restore its film section to greatness by again reviewing all theatrical releases instead of just the latest Hollywood blockbuster and occasionally one foreign, indie or documentary feature. The Times is, after all, our city’s paper of record. To earn and hold that title means thorough coverage of arts and culture, and the Times cannot claim to be a serious major daily if it gives short shrift to Los Angeles’ main artistic and cultural export.
Since we spoke out, the Times has published some reviews of under-the-radar titles (like She Willand Murana) but ignored others that were just as worthy of serious critical attention (Olga and A Man of Integrity, for example). Film reviews are an essential aspect of film marketing to bring attention to movies released by distributors that don’t have the money to compete with major studio releases for people’s attention. The end result will be indie movie theaters like Laemmle going the way of small record shops and bookstores, diminishing cities’ cultural vibrancy. The Times has a major role to play here.
Unfortunately, it looks like the problem is spreading to an even higher profile outlet, the New York Times. Ira Deutchman just posted a piece on his blog that’s worth a read. It’s headlined Seven Ways The New York Times Could Help Save Theatrical Moviegoing and Its Own Bottom Line. Ira is a long-time indie film executive who is also a filmmaker (Searching for Mr. Rugoff) and an associate professor of film at Columbia University so he has a unique and authoritative perspective on this topic and goes into much more detail with ideas beyond just maintaining the role of film criticism. We hope you’ll read Ira’s piece and share it with the L.A Times editors. It’s good food for thought and perhaps will instill in them a sense of civic responsibility.