New Yorker magazine critic David Denby, whose erudite and often contrarian film reviews have been essential reading for New York cineastes since he began as the film critic for New York magazine in 1978, will give up the reviewing duties he’s split with the equally erudite and contrarian (but generally funnier) Anthony Lane at the turn of the year. Denby — a self-described “Paulette” due to the influence of the New Yorker film critic Pauline Kael on both his critical discernment and his sometimes caustic attitude toward the film industry — will remain with the magazine as a staff writer and critic-at-large.
Word of the change came through a Tweet posted by Denby’s New Yorker colleague John Lahr, congratulating him for 16 years at the magazine where he and Lane have alternated writing the weekly movies column. Lahr is the former drama critic, now also an at-large contributor. The Tweet prompted speculation that Denby had quit or been fired (along with an instant fussilade of resumes to editor-in-chief David Remnick). As with Lahr, Denby won’t be replaced (Lahr’s second, Hilton Als, serves as the magazine’s chief drama critic) in the reviewers’ musical chair, according to a statement from New Yorker director of communications Natalie Raabe:
“David Denby is most definitely not leaving The New Yorker. He is going to give up his fortnightly reviewing in early 2015 but will continue as a staff writer, contributing longer critic-at-large pieces to the magazine (on films, books, and likely other subjects). Anthony Lane will become the magazine’s sole film critic and Richard Brody will continue at The Front Row on newyorker.com. Between their work and David’s contributions, there will be no shortage of film coverage.”