Film critic remembers four excellent years

Alex Williams

I remember the exact moment I realized how great it was to work for The Daily Texan. I had been in college for roughly a month and had been assigned to cover Fantastic Fest. For its closing night party, the festival bussed attendees to a ghost town outside of Austin, and, as I waited in line for knife throwing lessons while talking to a fellow critic about samurai movies, it came to me: Sublimely awesome moments like this were why I wanted to write for The Daily Texan.

Four years later, I’m saying goodbye to the Texan. I’ve gone from lowly issue staff to life & arts associate editor; from a freshman looking to write about movies to a certified critic teetering on the edge of adulthood. I’ve worked with a dozen different editors, and every single one of them has made me a better writer in one way or another.

Amber Genuske gave me my first byline, my first press badge and was the first to teach me what constructive criticism really means. Gerald Rich showed me how to nurture a beard to its full glory and taught me that film festivals are not a time for sleep. Katie Stroh and Aleks Chan pushed me to unleash my inner snark, and Sarah-Grace Sweeney put up with me when I bit off more than I could chew. I also have to thank Hannah Smothers and Lauren L’Amie for giving me more encouragement and support than I could ask for in my last semester. And last, but certainly not least, Kelsey McKinney, for always pushing me to be a better, more adventurous writer.

I’ve also had the privilege of watching Alex Pelham, Colin McLaughlin and Lee Henry grow into strongly opinionated film reviewers over the last year, and I hope, someday, they’ll be mentioning me in their own farewell columns.

More than the free movies and swanky parties, I’ll miss the sense of community that’s always present in the basement, the driving sentiment that we were reporters for a publication that’s not just a learning exercise for fledgling journalists but an essential, thriving component of the University. I’ll also miss geeking out about “Breaking Bad” with Bobby Blanchard and getting a small ego boost when I read Doug Warren’s critiques.

If The Daily Texan was hitting theaters this weekend, I’d give it a glowing review. It’s been an essential part of my college experience and an organization I’m proud to have worked for. Like any great movie, I wish my time at The Daily Texan could last forever, and, now that the credits are about to roll, I just want to rewind to that excellent night on my freshman year and watch the whole thing again.