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When I worked for my college newspaper back in the 1970s, writers and editors were frequently shuffled between departments in order to give us, the greenest journalists, broader experience. My favorite job was writing movie reviews. It hardly seemed like real work—getting to see movies for free, then filing a story filled with soaring praise or scathing, witty put-downs. Unfortunately, as I learned pretty fast, the senior editors always snapped up the best assignments, the Oscar nominees and star-studded action films. Fledglings like me were given the poor orphans and rotten eggs of the movie world. Some were good, but most were sad, putrid little things.

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