Notes from the back row 

Five years of flicks for Feet

Well it’s been five full years since I started this column and by some accounts I should be rubbing my mojo bag and giving thanks that I still have a job. Stephanie Zacharek over at Salon.com recently reported that, “the chances of being able to making a living (as a film critic) are growing increasingly slim” as web-based criticism takes over and many papers dump their on-staff film geeks.

Thankfully, Pique understands that movie studio marketing/hype campaigns are so slick and well funded these days that you need someone to filter out the “utter shit” from the “pretty crappy” from the “you need to be pretty high to enjoy this” from the “not bad actually” from the “Fock yeah! This Rules.” It’s a tough job but I like it and thanks to all for reading my shit for the past five years. I’m grateful.

I’m also very grateful I’m not a woman — another study, done by Martha Lauzen of the Alliance of Women Film Journalists, has found that of all the film critics employed by the top 100 papers in the U.S., 70 per cent are men and only 30 percent are women (apparently none of the big U.S. papers are hiring hermaphrodite film critics) and on top of that, 47 per cent of those papers had no chick-written reviews at all. And I think I know why.

Film critics are really just movie geeks. Geeks who can write, but geeks nonetheless, and adult women are far less likely to be geeks — most of them grow out of it. Sports geeks and statistic junkies, Trekkies, obsessed-and-yappy mountain bikers, comic book collectors — way more dudes than chicks seem to obsess about pop culture and childish hobbies. Even wine — sure, women like to drink it more than us, but the nerdy sommeliers with their hoity-toity Sideways attitudes are generally dudes.

(Wine geeks are the worst geeks of all because they actually think they’re cool — news flash buddy, you blow and so does pinot noir.)

Women will obsess about shit like emotional closure or revenge but when it comes to movies they generally just don’t care as much as the guys do.

For instance, I only know one girl who’s excited about the brand new Collectors Edition DVD of Pumpkinhead that comes out Sept. 9, and that’s a crying shame because it’s really gonna rule and it’s a revenge flick.

Directed by special effects genius Stan Winston who built the Alien, and Predator , Pumpkinhead stars Lance Henriksen as a widowed, down-south farmer whose only son is accidentally killed by reckless city folk. Pissed, he goes to a witch and together they unleash a badass demon from hell to pick off the hapless youths one by one.

The new edition gives this dark fairy tale the royal treatment with two killer commentary tracks, a six-part featurette covering everything from creature design to casting, and five minutes of superb behind-the-scenes clips from the 1985 production.

Pumpkinhead rules and this release means, thankfully, Halloween and horror season has officially begun.

As for the theatres well, like last week, I really don’t even know what’s playing because I’m somewhere in the bush in Northern B.C. tracking an elusive albino sasquatch. So how about you do it old school this week — remember back when there were no movie critics in town, and you just had to trust your gut and pick a movie based on the poster? Give it a try, and see how it goes. I’ll be back next week to begin year six.

FYI, Stephanie’s article is here: www.salon.com/mwt/broadsheet/2008/07/24/film_critics/index.html

Martha’s article is called “Thumbs Down” and can be found at: http://awfj.org/hot-topic/

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