Five memorable lines from the Village Voice’s Jim Hoberman


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The firing Wednesday of Village Voice chief film critic Jim Hoberman sent ripples through the review community -- and rightly so. Over the last three decades on staff at the Village Voice, Hoberman brought a unique lens to the moviegoing experience, informed and academic but never esoteric. (His top-10 list this year, for instance, was a merry mix of cineaste pleasures like “Hugo” and “Melancholia” and challenging art pieces such as “Mysteries of Lisbon” and “Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall his Past Lives.”)

He was also one of the last professional film intellectuals, a staff writer who earned a living wage by writing about films because he thought them important and interesting, not because they happened to be opening that week.


Here’s hoping he lands on his feet. In the meantime, we offer a telling (but by no means exhaustive) sampling of some of his more memorable observations on popular films.

On the trenchancy of a certain Jim Carrey movie: ‘'The Truman Show’ suggests that stardom too can be rationally produced. This spoof of what Mark Crispin Miller dubbed our National Entertainment State is a scenario that mixes the 1984 nightmare of absolute surveillance with the notion of an idiot-audience hooked on the vicarious thrills of virtual reality (or what André Bazin called the Myth of Total Cinema).’

On the appeal of “The Three Amigos’: ‘A trio of costumed washed-up Western stars coping with Mexico circa 1916 in this good naturedly dopey and totally disarming Reagan era comedy, predicated on the notion that life is a movie -- or should be.”

On the structure of Lars von Trier’s new work: ‘'Melancholia’s’ first five minutes are like a formal invitation to the end of the world; the next two hours allow you to live through the run-up. We are all ultimately alone, and yet this thrillingly sad, beautiful movie dares to imagine (and insists we do as well) the one event that might bring us all together.”

On the Hitler overtones in ‘Nutcracker 3-D’: “The wildest thing about this movie is its faith that what kids (and parents) really want for Christmas is a Nutcracker version of the Final Solution.’

On the derivativeness of a certain star-heavy threequel: ‘'Ocean’s Thirteen,’ Steven Soderbergh and George Clooney’s latest remake of Frank Sinatra’s rat pack Vegas caper, the essence of curdled ring-a-ding-ding, is the surest bet in showbiz. It’s a spectacle blatantly predicated on a smug gaggle of mega movie stars in boss threads ostentatiously having fun by pretending to steal the house’s money, while actually taking yours. See it if you must, but don’t forget to pack the Air Wick. These breezy doings are mustier than a Glitter Gulch casino at 4 a.m.’

-- Steven Zeitchik and Julie Makinen