Monday, March 08, 2010

Sad News--Updated

Variety has just let go of Todd McCarthy, who I have long regarded as America's best movie critic. McCarthy's reviews were so objective, informed, and modest that they often read less like critiques and more like appraisals. He wasn't telling you if he liked or disliked a movie: He was telling you what was objectively good about it, what was objectively not good about it, and what the data suggested its commercial prospects might be like. While the rest of America's critics tried to shout one another down (or show off their erudition), McCarthy came as close as anyone could to divining some measure of truth about the movies he reviewed. The closest analog I've ever seen is Walt Mossberg's tech reviews.

I'll miss his work.

Update: Roger Ebert has a fantastic little essay about how he met McCarthy as a high school kid:

I met him so long ago. When I was new in my job at the Chicago Sun-Times, I got a letter one day from a high school kid who said he loved the movies and wanted to have a talk with me about them. The letter struck a note. I met Todd and his friend Charles Flynn at Andy's, a place with pretty good hamburgers, outside the back door of the Sun-Times.
They knew everything about the movies. They had seen them all, debated them all, written about half of them. They became for me examples of a species I thought of as "Doc Films Kids," named after Doc Films at the University of Chicago, the nation's oldest film society. Other Doc Films Kids included Dave Kehr, now at the New York Times. They'd seen so many movies I didn't see how it was possible in such brief lifetimes. Once at O'Rourke's, Flynn was telling me how much Otto Preminger hated over-the-shoulder shots, and I nodded wisely while asking myself, how in the hell does he know that?

There's more great stuff in there.

1 comment:

ben said...

Completely agreed. It's jarring to see someone who's been so consistently good let go. Let's hope he finds a prominent landing spot.