Outside Reading — The Balcony Is Closed edition

Critic, Critique Thyself by A.O. Scott

I think A.O. Scott is a good film critic. I also think he’s great at writing about being a film critic. Upon the announcement that he’s stepping down from the co-lead position assessing the latest cinematic offerings for readers of the Gray Lady, Scott conducts a sort of exit interview with himself. This lengthy, nicely roaming piece is frank about his approach to the job and just a touch depressing in its unfortunately accurate consideration of the current health of theatrical exhibition in the U.S. Loving as the article is overall, I do appreciate that he found a way to take a couple jabs at the bafflingly overrated Love Actually and Top Gun: Maverick on the way out of the balcony. This piece is published, of course, by The New York Times.

How “Abbott Elementary” Takes On the Charter-School Movement by Jessica Winter

Writing for The New Yorker, Jessica Winter offers admiration for the ruefully wise and withering charter schools subplot running through the exceptional second season of Abbott Elementary. Winter does a fine job highlighting the portions of the sitcom’s storytelling that have real teeth, and she also digs into the real-life record of profit-driven fiends enriching themselves at the expense of public school students to provide fortification to the thesis laid out in the program created by Quinta Brunson.

What Happens To College Towns When Colleges Start to Shrink? by Lydia DePillis

It’s now been a few years since I worked in higher education, but I still watch with dismay as various institutions suffer declines that put them in peril and threaten to devastate entire communities. I could type endlessly about the reasons this is happening, many of which stem from the longstanding right-wing aversion to an educated populace, but I’ll leave the diatribe for another day and instead cede to the sharp reporting and poignant storytelling of Lydia DePillis. This article is published by The New York Times.

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