It was officially announced yesterday…”officially” being a euphemism in this instance for “at long last”…that Chicago Tribune editors had finaly gotten their nerve up and permanently replaced big-wheel film critic Michael Wilmington with former hotshot theater critic Michael Phillips, whom I spoke to last September during the Toronto Film Festival. It was obvious back then that Phillips (whom a Chicago Tribune colleague describes as “an elegant writer” and coming from “more or less in the same [aesthetic] place as Wilmington”] was on the upswing and Mike, a flat-out brilliant critic and scholar from way back, was on the downswing. A friend of Wilmington’s told me a good year ago that Tribune management had been “treating him badly,” so the writing had been on the wall. If you’re going to get respectfully demoted or fired or dropped by a girlfriend, you can always feel it a long time before the actual words are spoken (or typed out for a press release). The drip-drip-drip of disapproval …those little disses, dirty looks and innumerable hints that your stock price is dropping…is always detectable well in advance.