When it comes to good movie magazines there's really only one game in town. I've been reading Empire magazine since 1995 when my sister, gripped by a Pierce Brosnan fetish, spied the the new 007 on the front cover. I nabbed it for a read and have been hooked ever since. Empire was always a magazine scribed by film fans for film fans. Its writers were like me and you, everyday folk who shared a passion for cinema and who happened to have a forum for writing down their feelings. But over the last few months Empire has left us ordinary folk behind.
Reading the Empire Editorial in the front page readers are now regaled with tales of mingling with Gwyneth Paltrow at awards shows and drinking with Tarantino on the Med. Its a monthly intro that leaves me cold, like the the office bore who insists on bragging about their weekend away to their expensive country retreat every Monday morning. The tales of hob-knobbing with A-listers were slow to creep in, the annual Empire Awards ceremony kicking things off, an eight page spread of journalist and film star shoulder rubbing and glad-handing. The once yearly love-in grew and off the back stories of "Me and my mate Quentin" slowly crept into the Empire pages.
And so the link between film writer and film fan has begun to erode. We all knew the connections were there. Some of us even suspected that the relationship between studios and magazine writers, and the access given to certain films, may have had sway on the resulting film reviews; the controversial scoring of Star Wars: Episode I The Phantom Menace (1999) and Batman and Robin (1997) lingers still. But it was a relationship that was well hidden by relatable writing and movie coverage that spoke warmly to the heart of film fans. I love reading retrospectives about classic cult movies. What I don't give a toss about is your evening sipping cocktails with Catherine Zeta Jones and Jude Law on the shimmering marble dancefloor of the Carlton Hotel Cannes.
It speaks volumes that despite this growing social boastery Empire remains by far the best movie read on the market. Its recent Schwarzenegger tribute edition and article on forgotten Clive Barker curio Nightbreed (1988) are just two examples of the sort of movie journalism that still excites even the most jaded film aficionado. But please Empire, save your tales of dinner with Spielberg for the office. Its the sort of well-heeled bragging us recession crippled folk can do without.
I remember back in the eighties all the radio one DJ's bragging on a daily basis about where they'd been the night before, which expensive brasserie they were frequenting after their show ended etc. whilst all the while I was getting covered in lathe oil, toiling away to make gripped handles for socket sets! To this day Simon Bates would be in mortal danger should I happen to bump into him on a common high street or misty moor