Letter: Au revoir, Xpress movie reviews

Graphic by Lori Deaton

I wanted to simply echo the sentiments of Sherry Luft in her May 1 letter regarding the current state of movie reviews at Mountain Xpress [Experienced Movie Critics Wanted].

I live in Houston, Texas, and for the last decade was a avid reader of Ken Hanke’s reviews. I could have “subscribed” to anyone in the country, but by chance, probably from a quote I read at Rotten Tomatoes, found Hanke. I came to depend on his opinions and fresh insights and was very saddened upon learning of his passing. Granted, he was and is a hard act to follow.

Nevertheless, out of habit I followed Scott Douglas and found him to be a worthy successor and a solid reviewer and critic. His writings and insights were in stark contrast to the other reviewers whose work was sprinkled in around him. I remembered some of those names because they were frequent commenters to Hanke’s reviews and engaged in dialogues with Ken. They were amateurs by comparison.

Which brings me to the present and my point. Your movie review site is hopelessly inept since Douglas has departed. I’m not privileged to know why he left — there may have been very good reasons — and it’s none of my business, but I can tell you that the current writers are uniformly lame. I’m not naming names. Some are obviously better than others. Some are hopelessly pathetic.

Overall, your review site is worthless to me, and I imagine to many others, other than functioning as a schedule for local screenings. There are plenty of other resources out there which I’ve now turned to, but I just think it’s a shame that you’ve let something deteriorate, something which set your site apart from many, many more well-known and well-funded ones.


— Bill Thomas

Editor’s note: We always appreciate feedback from our readers. It’s true that the internet offers easy access to hundreds of professional reviewers. And while it’s nice to hear that we’ve had fans in Texas, Xpress aims to serve the Western North Carolina community by offering local views from a range of community members, all of whom are avid moviegoers and experienced writers. The updated approach is fostering intelligent, diverse community engagement with — and conversations about — new films. If quality film criticism is to survive, then fresh, informed voices — especially women and people of color — need opportunities to hone their craft, and it’s exciting to present those perspectives alongside established writers in each issue of Xpress.


Thanks for reading through to the end…

We share your inclination to get the whole story. For the past 25 years, Xpress has been committed to in-depth, balanced reporting about the greater Asheville area. We want everyone to have access to our stories. That’s a big part of why we've never charged for the paper or put up a paywall.

We’re pretty sure that you know journalism faces big challenges these days. Advertising no longer pays the whole cost. Media outlets around the country are asking their readers to chip in. Xpress needs help, too. We hope you’ll consider signing up to be a member of Xpress. For as little as $5 a month — the cost of a craft beer or kombucha — you can help keep local journalism strong. It only takes a moment.

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One thought on “Letter: Au revoir, Xpress movie reviews

  1. Marcianne Miller

    Having just quit/got fired from the list of “community” writers in the newly revised Xpress movie section, I’m a dubious choice at best to answer your letter. However, I had to address one major consideration that might be affecting your opinion.

    It’s important to remember that movie reviewers and critics can only write about the movies that are presented to them.

    This has been a very bad year for movies, all the national press is complaining. In fact, I’ve seen only four movies this entire year (it’s already September) that I think are good: Wild Heart (a lively country music fairy tale), The Last Black Man in San Francisco (a moody tome on gentrification, race, and architecture in San Francisco), the documentary Toni Morrison: the Pieces I Am, and the best movie of the year, The Farewell, a hilarious, heartbreaking, strange and wonderful film about family relations in contemporary China.

    The “buzz” is that the upcoming movies for the rest of the year are going to be much better. So, hang in there!

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