Rafer GuzmánFilm Critic/Entertainment Reporterrafer.email@example.com
Education: University of California, Berkeley, and Columbia School of Journalism
What made me want to be a movie critic? That’s easy: my dad.
I’m proud and grateful to be part of a crew that helps Long Islanders decide what to see and do.
I grew up in Southern California, where the movies seem to reign over everything and everyone. I also was an arty kid – you know, the kind who actually reads the liner notes on albums and stays for the closing credits after every movie. But I really owe my career to my dad, who took me to a theater just about every weekend when I was a boy. He would scour the newspaper, find out what was playing and suggest a few titles. Personally, I didn’t care if it was “Benji” or “Blazing Saddles.” Any movie, to me, was magic.
Eventually, I developed some actual opinions about movies, and I began to ask questions about them. Who made them? How? And why? I got serious about moviegoing, attending the annual 50-hour movie marathon at the Filmex festival for several years in a row. (Best education I ever got.) As I entered my teen years, I started reading the Los Angeles Times’ film and music critics. When I went away to college and then bounced around to different cities, I always picked up the local paper and turned straight to the arts section. I wanted to know: What’s happening, what’s playing, who’s touring, what should I see or do? I got to know the writers by their bylines. Some made me laugh, and some made me furious, but truth be told, I admired them all. I thought: What cool jobs they had! I wish I could do that. And then, one day, I decided I would.
Even after I began seriously pursuing journalism as a career, it took me a while to find my way to Newsday’s arts desk. I freelanced for tiny papers (some were really just stapled pamphlets), then went to graduate school. I did a summer internship at the Buffalo News (the other best education I ever got) and then joined the Wall Street Journal as a business reporter. I learned a great deal there over several years – but I wasn’t writing about the arts, and I missed it. When Newsday had an opening for a rock critic, I applied and got the job. And a few years later, I became the paper’s film critic.
The arts desk at any newspaper is a funny place, full of nerds and obsessives who care deeply about seemingly trivial things such as Oscar categories and rock band discographies. I like to think I fit right in. I’m proud and grateful to be part of a crew that helps Long Islanders decide what to see and do. I’m happy to make some readers laugh and some readers furious. (They let me know, believe me.) Whenever I write something, whether it’s a review of the latest blockbuster or a feature on an up-and-coming filmmaker, I try not to be snobbish or pretentious. Instead, I imagine some kid and his dad out there, wondering what to see this weekend.