No need to save me the aisle seat

Written by Barbara Vancheri on .


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chewbaccaandsoloI lived through the end of “Star Wars” and the triumphant resurrection of “Star Wars.”

The death of the best Superman there was – Christopher Reeve – and introduction of his successors.

The reboot of Batman, the recognition that Pittsburgh is a perfect place to shoot a movie (or TV series), the creation of a bumper crop of film festivals tumbling one after the other, and much more.

spotlight-movie-keatonBut I have taken a buyout from the Post-Gazette and left the paper after 32 wonderful years and the sorts of assignments I never dreamed of:  Covering the Oscars from the press room and red carpet (above, 2007), interviewing Christian Bale at the Beverly Hilton for “The Dark Knight Rises,” being among a handful of writers talking with the stars of “The Perks of Being a Wallflower” at Peters Township High School, settling into a faux living room in Downtown Pittsburgh with Vin Diesel and Michael Caine, chatting with Michael Keaton about “Spotlight” at the SouthSide Works Cinema, sitting in a fancy Toronto hotel bar in September 2015 and interviewing Pittsburgh native Jesse Shapira about a little movie called “Room” rocketing toward Oscar night. And the list goes on and on.

Some of my most memorable assignments had nothing to do with movies. A photographer and I spent a year tracking a little boy who sustained a head injury on his first day of kindergarten, and another photographer and I followed two brothers badly burned in a fire and recovering at Mercy Hospital. I have no idea what happened to those boys but I would like to think they grew up happy and healthy, with their physical, emotional or developmental scars faded or forgotten. 

concussionblog0410I have a book review still in the pipeline and may or may not contribute some movie reviews down the road. It was an exhausting fall and early winter with Oscar contenders, the opening of locally made movies (“The Last Witch Hunter,” “Love the Coopers,” “Concussion”), a steady stream of movie reviews and interviews, and other assignments.

As a colleague helped me load boxes into my car trunk just before midnight one recent day, I felt a bit like Cinderella. I looked nothing like Lily James in that divine blue ball gown from 2015’s “Cinderella” (still rankles me that the movie didn’t win the Oscar for best costumes) but felt as if I were leaving the wonder of a magical world and returning to workaday life.

mtmgroupshot410I do not consider myself retired and plan to look for a part-time job. I think I’m young but know that -- compared with some colleagues who were not born when I joined the PG Magazine staff -- I am not.  It’s like that episode of “The Mary Tyler Moore Show” called “Today I Am a Ma’am” where Mary Richards was stunned to be addressed that way.  

I felt a twinge of regret when I went to see “Eye in the Sky” recently and watched the previews for movies such as “Money Monster” starring George Clooney and Julia Roberts. The beauty of being a film critic is that you can still go to the movies – not as early and not for free – and watch them, without taking notes in the dark or thinking 2.5 or 3 stars?

I’m going to give young adult dystopian novels a rest, unless I get back in the game. And I may. After all, everyone loves a reboot, a reinvention or a return, as “Star Wars” proved. 



Photo of Michael Keaton and Walter "Robby" Robinson by Rebecca Droke/PG.


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