Never one to sidestep controversy, writer/director Rod Lurie recently caused film purists to perk up their ears when he seemed to suggest during an interview that his upcoming remake of Sam Peckinpah's revenge thriller Straw Dogs would be tantamount to a moral improvement over the original film, since it would purposefully not rehash the ultra-controversial moment from the Peckinpah original when Susan George, playing the wife of Dustin Hoffman's character, begins to express pleasure during a brutal rape sequence. Lurie was more than ready to expand on his statement and explain exactly what he meant when I spoke with him recently -- he's out promoting his new sports journalism drama, Resurrecting the Champ, which opens in theaters today. During the course of our conversation, we talked about that film and what it says about the state of journalism today, we talked about his career path and how he wants to alter it, and I got his thoughts on the decline of the print film critic and the rise -- for better or worse -- of the Internet film critic. Here's the interview.
Cinematical: What are you up to today?
RL: Today's the day before the release of my film, so I'd like to say I'm just chilling out, but really we're watching all the reviews come in and all the box-office tracking and all that. It's a tense day, to say the least.
Cinematical: I wanted to ask, did you catch that article in the American Journalism Review this month, about film critics?
RL: No, I didn't.
Cinematical: Pretty interesting. It talks about print critics being offered buyouts or being simply let go at a lot of places, in favor of coverage from the wire services and all that. The underlying premise, I think, was that the trend was escalating.
RL: You know, I think about it a lot, because you know, I was a film critic for many years.
RL: There but for the grace of God go I, sort of thing, Ryan. You know, the Internet is a wondrous thing. It's the space travel of our time. By that, I mean it's the sort of thing that, twenty years ago was sort of unfathomable and it's done a lot of wonderful things, but it's also destroyed a lot of things. Print journalism is going to disappear, obviously, in the not too distant future. And part of the war of attrition on print journalism is getting rid of the non-essentials. Not that movie criticism is non-essential, but movie critics are, in the sense that there are plenty of wire services and we use Roger Ebert's reviews in 400 newspapers and the Associated Press and Reuters. It's a little sad, because I think it's nice for every town to have its own critic, its judge, its representative, its own community standards held up by the candle of that particular critic. So that's definitely going away, and it's too bad -- it really is.