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Minnesota Film Critics Alliance Profile: Jay Gabler

Jay Gabler has been covering arts and entertainment in a variety of ways.

He was a theater critic for City pages and arts editor at the Twin Cities Daily Planet. He’s also worked as a digital producer for Minnesota Public Radio and writes about pop culture at the site The Tangential.

Today, his main work is focused on arts and entertainment reporting at the Duluth News Tribune. Here’s more about Gabler in his own words.

How long have you been producing content about movies?

Over 30 years, given that I wrote my first published movie review as a freshman in high school. I wrote about my history as an arts writer in my inaugural Duluth News Tribune column.

Where do you live and/or produce content about movies?

I live and work in Duluth.

What type of content do you produce about movies?

Most often, reviews and essays. I also report on northern Minnesota’s growing film production industry.

What motivated you to create content about movies?

Two words: Roger Ebert. Ever since I was a kid, I’ve loved reading his writing about movies. Fortunately, he left a lot of it for us to enjoy now that he’s gone.

What inspired your love of movies?

I’m a member of what Mark O’Connell calls the “sky kids” generation: kids who grew up when Steven Spielberg and George Lucas ruled the box office, and who remember a time when on-demand home video was a rare luxury.

With a movie actor in the White House, that may have been the last hurrah for Hollywood as the global hub of onscreen storytelling. It’s hard to imagine growing up at that time and not seeing movies as a uniquely enthralling art form.

What do you enjoy most about living in Minnesota?

Minnesotans care about art, and support it in a wide variety of ways. This is a place with a lot of personality, physically distant from coastal population hubs but tightly connected to them culturally and consistently producing work that makes people around the world take notice.

It’s a great state to make, partake of, and write about art. Also, there are nice lakes and trees.

What is your favorite movie theater in Minnesota?

I could give a different answer to this question every day. Today, I’m going to say Duluth’s NorShor Theatre, which holds a special place in my moviegoing history as the place where I first saw my forever favorite film, 2001: A Space Odyssey.

The nuns brought my Catholic grade school class there as a field trip, apparently thinking that since the movie was rated G, it was perfectly appropriate for kids. My mind was permanently blown.

What are some of your favorite movies from the past year (2021)?

“Dune,” “Dune,” and “Dune.” I also enjoyed the shameless “House of Gucci,” the electrifying “Summer of Soul,” and the poignant “French Dispatch.” I keep a promotional NO CRYING sign on my newsroom desk.

What are your favorite movies set in Minnesota?

Obvious choice: “Fargo.” Dark horse: “You’ll Like My Mother,” shot at Glensheen (Mansion in Duluth) during an actual snowstorm. Come for the local angle, stay for the spine tingles.

Where can people find your work?

I’m an arts and entertainment reporter – and sometime critic – for the Duluth News Tribune. I also publish criticism in The Tangential (a pop culture and creative writing blog I’ve co-edited since 2011) and elsewhere.

What are your Social Media accounts?

@JayGabler on Twitter, Instagram and Letterboxd.

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Author: Matthew Liedke

Journalist and film critic in Minnesota. Graduate of Rainy River College and Minnesota State University in Moorhead. Outside of movies I also enjoy sports, craft beers and the occasional video game.

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