Denver's last local movie critic at a newspaper fights for space

Lisa Kennedy.

The downsizing of newspaper staffs has decimated the ranks of locally based film reviewers across the country, Denver included. Neither the Rocky Mountain News nor Westword currently use area scribes to analyze flicks, meaning that the Denver Post's Lisa Kennedy is the last fulltime Denver movie critic with a regular print position. And today's physical and web editions of the Post illustrate how her job has changed since May 2003, when she was welcomed to town with a Message column profile.

Kennedy made her reputation writing long-form reviews for publications such as the L.A. Weekly and the Phoenix New Times (both Westword sister papers), and she was initially given an unusual amount of room to stretch at the Post. But as the newspaper industry has contracted, so has her opportunity to dig into films as expansively as she once did. Her "long" reviews in the October 3 edition -- of Bill Maher's Religulous and the cinematic dog Beverly Hills Chihuahua -- measure around 500 words and 600 words respectively, while major releases such as Blindness, Appaloosa and Nick and Norah's Infinite Playlist earn around 200 words each in pieces labeled "Outtakes." Moreover, finding her pieces on the main entertainment page of the Post's website ain't easy. There's a large flash-animation box up top, but clicking on the image from Nick and Norah's Infinite Playlist takes surfers to a page on a separate site, MovieWeb, instead of her offering.

The Post deserves credit for keeping Kennedy on the payroll. Having someone like her in town adds to the city's cultural richness. And she undoubtedly realizes how fortunate she is to still be steadily employed in a profession that seems to be disappearing. But reading her stuff today, it's hard not to think back on the good old days, just five short years ago. -- Michael Roberts

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Michael Roberts has written for Westword since October 1990, serving stints as music editor and media columnist. He currently covers everything from breaking news and politics to sports and stories that defy categorization.
Contact: Michael Roberts