Could one fairly describe Alynda Wheat, the new People film critic who’s replaced Leah Rozen, as a scholastically correct film monk in the tradition of Karina Longworth, say, or Stephanie Zacharek? Or perhaps some kind of spirited resuscitation of the spirit of Pauline Kael, or maybe some kind of film-dweeby Rachel Maddow type?
I don’t personally know Wheat, but she doesn’t appear (emphasis on that word) to be any of these things, or even a “member of the cloth” as it were. She’s just a good snappy writer from Entertainment Weekly, apparently, who used to write about TV.
How well does Wheat know the films of Ernst Lubitsch, Anthony Mann, Nicholas Ray, Agnes Varda, Michelangelo Antonioni, Pier Paolo Pasolini, etc.? More to the point, are there any People readers who give two shits who these directors were? Or care about any perspective other than one that expresses their own secular theology? Is it unfair to dismiss People readers as intellectually challenged girly-girl types? I honestly don’t think so. Was Wheat hired because the editors wanted someone who wasn’t snobby, who hailed from the under-35 demo and could “speak Eloi” or…you know, communicate with whatever vague sensibility is thought to represent the readership?
The answers to these and other questions will, I’m sure, be revealed soon enough.