Michael Kinsley, senior editorial adviser for Bloomberg View, posted a film review of Andrew Rossi‘s documentary “Page One: Inside the New York Times” in the movie review section of the Times today, and it’s scathing, to say the least. He writes that the movie is “in a word, a mess.”
The documentary stars Times journalists Brian Stelter, David Carr, and other Times major players, and though there have been some mixed reactions from Times insiders, it’s still jarring to see such a takedown of the film. Kinsley begins by ostensibly explaining why he is writing the review, which is that even though the people who put out the newspaper “know far more than I do about The Times and are better positioned to judge the movie,” there is a “conflict of interest.” He however knows “almost nothing about how The New York Times works.”
But then he adds: “Having seen “Page One,” I don’t know much more than I did before… It flits from topic to topic, character to character, explaining almost nothing.”
Here are some choice quotes:
The movie’s main theme, no surprise, is the struggle of The Times to survive in the age of the Internet. But it does little to illuminate that struggle, preferring instead a constant parade of people telling the camera how dreadful it would be if The Times did not survive. True, of course, but boring to the point of irritation after five or six repetitions.
About David Carr, the “unlikely hero” of the film, Kinsley writes:
The moviemakers must have felt that they had found their Jimmy Breslin or their Hildy Johnson (the real and fictional archetypes of the crusty, hard-living journalist)… The movie swoons for Mr. Carr. We are told again and again — at least twice by Mr. Carr himself — that he used to be a cocaine addict and a single parent on welfare and has seen some things in his day… The only flaw in this act is his inability to be cynical about his employer. As he freely admits, David Carr loves The New York Times.
Well, at least no one can accuse the paper of favoring the movie that glorifies it. But the documentary probably lost at least a few viewers from this review alone.