A veteran movie critic for Entertainment Weekly debuts with a chronicle of his love affair with films, his long career at EW (before they laid him off in 2014), and his gnarly love life (until his marriage).
For much of his life, Gleiberman was fortunate. He was able to spend most of his days doing what he loved: seeing and commenting on the movies. His career received a jump-start when, in his 20s, the redoubtable New Yorker critic Pauline Kael became interested in him and helped him get his first job with the Boston Phoenix. The paper fired him, but not long afterward, EW, a new Time-Life publication, hired him. Gleiberman describes his uncomfortable life with his father—for whom wedding vows of fidelity were only a suggestion—his nerdy social isolation as a film freak, his drug and alcohol use, and his uncomfortable, cringe-inducing confessions about his years at EW as a hustler of young women around the office. He pauses often for commentary about films, directors, and performers he liked (and didn’t), is generally kind to his colleagues (not always: Amy Taubin and Peter Travers take some Gleiberman guff), and fiercely defends his dislike for some films that were extraordinarily popular, including Pretty Woman and The Fellowship of the Ring. Throughout, the author’s prose style is conversational, even colloquial. At the end, he writes affectingly of the slow disappearance of newspapers and of print film criticism (“the case for why it matters cannot be made in practical terms”) and the surge of a kind of mass homogenization of cultural opinion that he finds depressing—and irreversible. Sad, too, is his account of his slow slide at EW, beginning with the elevation of Lisa Schwarzbaum to be his featured equal and ending with the word that the magazine would be moving in a new direction.
A story of societal change, rich in cultural as well as personal history.