I’ve just learned that J. Hoberman has been let go from the Village Voice.
Back in the 1990’s, the Voice was my bible. I got it and read it every week without fail. It’s fair to say that whatever progression I made from small town hick to big city culture maven was overseen by that weekly rag.
At that time, Gary Giddins was the jazz critic, Robert Christgau was the rock critic, Kyle Gann was the classical critic, and J. Hoberman was the film critic. Naturally, there were other excellent writers at the paper, but those were the ones I paid the most attention to. Of the four, the one I most eagerly took at face value was Hoberman. (Probably because film will never be my field.) Now they are all gone, and I'm not really sure if a fresh-faced newcomer to NYC has many reasons to look at the Voice anymore.
I probably stole a lot of the way I write about music from the way Hoberman wrote about film. I happily watched all sorts of things from Groundhog Day to Bob le Flambeur to Bulworth to Sonatine based on his recommendation. I was so down with Hoberman’s perspective that I even went to a book signing for the wonderful The Dream Life: Movies, Media, And The Mythology Of The Sixties and shook his hand.
At the old blog address, I celebrated Hoberman’s April 2007 cover story on Elliot Gould and his performance in Robert Altman’s The Long Goodbye, writing something along the lines of, “The Village Voice shows it can still be great.” Rereading that essay online now, I am still just as impressed by Hoberman’s moves. Before that article, I couldn’t have picked “one favorite film” without hemming and hawing. Since then, riding the secure power of J. Hoberman’s critique, I always say, The Long Goodbye.