Film Criticism

A subforum to discuss film culture and criticism both old and new, as well as memorializing public figures we've lost.
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colinr0380
Joined: Mon Nov 08, 2004 4:30 pm
Location: Chapel-en-le-Frith, Derbyshire, UK

Re: Film Criticism

#1101 Post by colinr0380 » Tue Jun 16, 2020 5:27 pm

I am not sure about the 'screenwriting seminar' side of things (I am not particularly convinced by the notion that people can be taught how to be successful writers) but have to admit to having a big soft spot for Robert McKee for a couple of wonderful television shows he presented: one half hour episode of his Reel Secrets series for Channel 4 was on Bergman's Through A Glass Darkly synposised here and is a great dissection of that film. And I have always been fond of his early 90s Filmworks series for the BBC which introduced me to a lot of films in my early teens and helped me to think deeper about them. His introductions for that series included Bringing Up Baby, Shane, Annie Hall, The Phantom of Liberty and The Wages of Fear, but especially good are the introductions to Chinatown and especially The Terminator, which is the best piece of criticism of that film that I have encountered.

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bottled spider
Joined: Thu Nov 26, 2009 2:59 am

Re: Film Criticism

#1102 Post by bottled spider » Tue Jun 16, 2020 6:17 pm

Thanks for offering a contrary view, and for posting those links. I'll watch them tomorrow. I watched about a minute of the Annie Hall one, and it does give a better initial impression than the short reviews I dipped into on his web page.

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bottled spider
Joined: Thu Nov 26, 2009 2:59 am

Re: Film Criticism

#1103 Post by bottled spider » Wed Jun 17, 2020 2:52 am

I forgive everything for his magnificent eyebrows.

I liked the Terminator and Chinatown intros a lot. Definitely learned things from both. I don't think the Annie Hall or Phantom of Liberty intros said much of substance, but they didn't irk me either, and I have to admit I didn't know until now the title 'Phantom of Liberty' is a phrase taken from the Communist Manifesto. I haven't seen Wages of Fear yet, so I'll save that intro for another time.

The reviews on his website that I found so off-putting were for Everybody Knows, the Salesman, and Lady Macbeth.

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colinr0380
Joined: Mon Nov 08, 2004 4:30 pm
Location: Chapel-en-le-Frith, Derbyshire, UK

Re: Film Criticism

#1104 Post by colinr0380 » Wed Jun 17, 2020 4:09 pm


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whaleallright
Joined: Sun Sep 25, 2005 12:56 am

Re: Film Criticism

#1105 Post by whaleallright » Wed Jun 17, 2020 6:49 pm

colinr0380 wrote:
Tue Jun 16, 2020 5:27 pm
(I am not particularly convinced by the notion that people can be taught how to be successful writers)
They can't! But you can make a lot of money if you can convince lots of people that you can teach people to be successful writers!

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Godot
Cri me a Tearion
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Re: Film Criticism

#1106 Post by Godot » Thu Jun 18, 2020 6:38 pm

Domino and Colin, thank you for posting those links for the Siskel & Ebert "Dogs" and McKee intros from the BBC! I only watched a few of each, but they are wonderfully entertaining!

I grew up outside Chicago and watched S&E's "Sneak Previews" religiously (reading Siskel in the Chicago Tribune and Ebert in his yearly Video Companions). The "Dogs" clips brought back happy memories, and I agree with Domino's characterization of their style, the friendly competition aspect to their professional relationship. When they appeared together on local radio or Letterman's show, you could tell they had an honest, respectful, and intelligent rhythm that subsequent pretenders (Lyons and Gabler, for example) failed to even sniff.

I'd never seen the McKee intros, and I echo the appreciation for the ones on Terminator and Chinatown, really insightful! Especially the latter, it made me pull the disc off the shelf and into the "watch next" queue (unfortunately joining a few dozen others, including some kevyip; I've learned to keep this queue handy, however, so if we can convince everyone to put down their phones for a family movie, I don't fumble precious minutes away searching for options). McKee's delivery is more serious, but those intros reminded me of Geoff Pevere and Elwy Yost, who hosted weekly movie series (I think they were "Reel to Real" and "Saturday Night at the Movies", respectively) on Canadian TV that I cherished when I lived in Detroit in the '90s. Pevere in particular had great, serious opening pitches for art films, then revisited at the end of the movies to offer specific notes of insight; his show was where I first saw Tampopo and The Gospel According to Matthew and others, and I have his segments still on DVD (copied from VHS) for a few. I couldn't find his segments posted on the vast inter-webs, but hopefully they're out there somewhere, like McKee's. Yost was more the genial uncle or grandfather, but his love of movies came through in his interviews with cast, crew, and media critics that accompanied the airings.

RIP Film
Joined: Tue Oct 10, 2017 3:53 pm

Re: Film Criticism

#1107 Post by RIP Film » Tue Aug 18, 2020 9:12 pm

Didn't know where to put this. But has there been any attempt in modern film criticism to classify the millennial anxiety/Y2K sci-fi of the late 90s? Which I would say was around 1995-2000. Films like Johnny Mnemonic, The 13th Floor, Dark City, The Matrix, Strange Days, Existenz, possibly Hackers and others.

There's a brooding undertone to these films and a sort of hazy dread, along with a magical view of technology, no doubt stemming from the coinciding computer/information age, not yet understood but enough to know it would change everything. They also lean heavy into existentialist themes.

I feel like this was a special if brief time in Hollywood filmmaking, with a focus on scripts and imaginative aesthetics, that didn't yet overindulge CG in the way that was common in the 2000s. It was also decidedly introspective, which was less the case during the Bush years.

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colinr0380
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Re: Film Criticism

#1108 Post by colinr0380 » Wed Aug 19, 2020 1:22 am

I am not aware of any specific writing on that trend but I remember at the time just taking the sci-fi shenanigans for granted! If pushed I would probably suggest that they are relatively darker and more muted takes on the goofier and more vibrant 'virtual reality' period from the early to mid 90s. As mentioned Hackers and The Net would fit into the trend of films trying to make people sitting at computers typing intently look action packed! (1992's Sneakers too) I would throw in the films of Brett Leonard into that trend as well, however they did feel as if they were indulging in CGI as much as they possibly could for the era: Lawnmower Man of course but I'm also thinking of the rather overlooked now (because it is completely insane!) Virtuosity.

If pressed I wonder if things turned as you identify in 1995 with things getting a bit too over the top (Virtuosity and especially Lawnmower Man 2: Beyond Cyberspace with the originally virtually created star Max Headroom, Matt Frewer!), so we start getting those darker, rather more technologically muted takes on virtual worlds. After the rather silly excesses of CGI those later films you mention have more reflective, noirish, paranoia filled takes which also seem to end up pushing the theme of never being entirely certain of which layer is the real world any more, or what even reality is anyways.
Last edited by colinr0380 on Thu Aug 20, 2020 2:43 am, edited 6 times in total.

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hearthesilence
Joined: Fri Mar 04, 2005 4:22 am
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Re: Film Criticism

#1109 Post by hearthesilence » Wed Aug 19, 2020 2:03 am

Re: Siskel & Ebert's "Dog of the Week," I wondered why they changed dogs, and fortunately Ebert's site reprinted a 1983 article by Tom Shales that explains why. (It was actually a petty money issue of all things - PBS didn't want to pay Spot's contractual "overtime" rate anymore. Then Sparky, the replacement, died from kidney failure.)

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Jean-Luc Garbo
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Re: Film Criticism

#1110 Post by Jean-Luc Garbo » Wed Aug 19, 2020 10:28 pm

RIP Film wrote:
Tue Aug 18, 2020 9:12 pm
Didn't know where to put this. But has there been any attempt in modern film criticism to classify the millennial anxiety/Y2K sci-fi of the late 90s? Which I would say was around 1995-2000. Films like Johnny Mnemonic, The 13th Floor, Dark City, The Matrix, Strange Days, Existenz, possibly Hackers and others.
Screen Slate covers part of this topic in their book 1995: The Year The Internet Broke

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hearthesilence
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Re: Film Criticism

#1111 Post by hearthesilence » Sat Sep 12, 2020 4:48 pm

I just heard Cineaste is looking for a proofreader to help them out. I have an email address I can pass along if anyone's interested (you need to submit a resume with a letter of interest), but here's what was passed on to me:

Cineaste is seeking a proofreader. The position, like all other editorial positions at Cineaste, a nonprofit magazine published by an all-volunteer staff, is not salaried, but it does include a number of perquisites, details of which will be made available to applicants or interested parties.

The basic requirement is previous or current professional proofreading experience, including the skill and ability to commit to proofreading 50% of the material in each quarterly issue (another proofreader now on staff proofs the other half of each issue), within an approximately two-week period. To receive the full benefits of the various editorial “perks” available, our preferred applicant would live in the New York City or nearby surrounding area, and be enough of a film scholar or film buff to be familiar with the sort of specialized journalism and criticism that we publish.

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HinkyDinkyTruesmith
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Re: Film Criticism

#1112 Post by HinkyDinkyTruesmith » Sat Sep 12, 2020 5:03 pm

hearthesilence wrote:
Sat Sep 12, 2020 4:48 pm
I just heard Cineaste is looking for a proofreader to help them out. I have an email address I can pass along if anyone's interested (you need to submit a resume with a letter of interest), but here's what was passed on to me:
I would appreciate it, if you want to PM me!

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hearthesilence
Joined: Fri Mar 04, 2005 4:22 am
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Re: Film Criticism

#1113 Post by hearthesilence » Sat Sep 12, 2020 5:09 pm

HinkyDinkyTruesmith wrote:
Sat Sep 12, 2020 5:03 pm
hearthesilence wrote:
Sat Sep 12, 2020 4:48 pm
I just heard Cineaste is looking for a proofreader to help them out. I have an email address I can pass along if anyone's interested (you need to submit a resume with a letter of interest), but here's what was passed on to me:
I would appreciate it, if you want to PM me!
Just sent!

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Professor Wagstaff
Joined: Tue Aug 24, 2010 11:27 pm

Re: Film Criticism

#1114 Post by Professor Wagstaff » Sat Sep 12, 2020 5:55 pm

hearthesilence wrote:
Sat Sep 12, 2020 4:48 pm
I just heard Cineaste is looking for a proofreader to help them out. I have an email address I can pass along if anyone's interested (you need to submit a resume with a letter of interest), but here's what was passed on to me:

Cineaste is seeking a proofreader. The position, like all other editorial positions at Cineaste, a nonprofit magazine published by an all-volunteer staff, is not salaried, but it does include a number of perquisites, details of which will be made available to applicants or interested parties.

The basic requirement is previous or current professional proofreading experience, including the skill and ability to commit to proofreading 50% of the material in each quarterly issue (another proofreader now on staff proofs the other half of each issue), within an approximately two-week period. To receive the full benefits of the various editorial “perks” available, our preferred applicant would live in the New York City or nearby surrounding area, and be enough of a film scholar or film buff to be familiar with the sort of specialized journalism and criticism that we publish.
I would also love the contact info if you are willing to share. Many thanks for the post!

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hearthesilence
Joined: Fri Mar 04, 2005 4:22 am
Location: NYC

Re: Film Criticism

#1115 Post by hearthesilence » Sat Sep 12, 2020 6:45 pm

Professor Wagstaff wrote:
Sat Sep 12, 2020 5:55 pm
hearthesilence wrote:
Sat Sep 12, 2020 4:48 pm
I just heard Cineaste is looking for a proofreader to help them out. I have an email address I can pass along if anyone's interested (you need to submit a resume with a letter of interest), but here's what was passed on to me:

Cineaste is seeking a proofreader. The position, like all other editorial positions at Cineaste, a nonprofit magazine published by an all-volunteer staff, is not salaried, but it does include a number of perquisites, details of which will be made available to applicants or interested parties.

The basic requirement is previous or current professional proofreading experience, including the skill and ability to commit to proofreading 50% of the material in each quarterly issue (another proofreader now on staff proofs the other half of each issue), within an approximately two-week period. To receive the full benefits of the various editorial “perks” available, our preferred applicant would live in the New York City or nearby surrounding area, and be enough of a film scholar or film buff to be familiar with the sort of specialized journalism and criticism that we publish.
I would also love the contact info if you are willing to share. Many thanks for the post!
No problem, just sent!

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FrauBlucher
Joined: Mon Jul 15, 2013 8:28 pm
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Re: Film Criticism

#1116 Post by FrauBlucher » Sat Sep 12, 2020 8:26 pm

I've been meaning to ask this for a while.... What do the folks here think of Susan Sontag criticisms?

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TheKieslowskiHaze
Joined: Fri Apr 03, 2020 10:37 am

Re: Film Criticism

#1117 Post by TheKieslowskiHaze » Wed Sep 16, 2020 10:19 pm

FrauBlucher wrote:
Sat Sep 12, 2020 8:26 pm
I've been meaning to ask this for a while.... What do the folks here think of Susan Sontag criticisms?
I've only read "Against Interpretation" (just the essay, not the whole book). I strongly disagreed with her thesis at the time, but it stuck with me and has undoubtedly influenced my thinking about movies and texts in general.

I thought about it a lot as I read Geoff Dyer's Zona, a book that talks about (among other things) Stalker's anti-symbolism. Not only do things not mean something; the things actively eschew the very idea that things mean things. I came away thinking that any appreciation of Tarkovsky's Stalker that is overly concerned with symbolic meaning is going to degrade the beauty of the film itself.

I still like when things mean things, though. But Sontag and Dyer have encouraged me to look at texts a bit differently.

I'm not sure this all answers your question.

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Michael Kerpan
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Re: Film Criticism

#1118 Post by Michael Kerpan » Wed Sep 16, 2020 11:30 pm

TheKieslowskiHaze wrote:
Wed Sep 16, 2020 10:19 pm
Not only do things not mean something; the things actively eschew the very idea that things mean things.
FWIW - I take this approach (more or less) to (at least some of) the works of a fair number of favorite directors -- particularly Kiyoshi Kurosawa, Luis Bunuel, and Jacques Rivette. ;-)

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HinkyDinkyTruesmith
Joined: Mon Aug 07, 2017 10:21 pm

Re: Film Criticism

#1119 Post by HinkyDinkyTruesmith » Thu Sep 17, 2020 12:20 am

I've now read three of Sontag's books––Styles of Radical Will, On Photography, and Illness as Metaphor, along with a few interviews and write-ups and a couple of her essays from Against Interpretation. I like her quite a bit, more for her rigor and personality than for her ideas, which I take and leave. I've never considered her a particularly astute observer of cinema, even if she was a filmmaker, but rather of that sort of intellectual who approaches cinema with a rarified intelligence. Her criticisms of film always come off as excessively heady and dissociated from the physicality that cinema contains (at least, that it contains for me). She is, I think, a true intellectual powerhouse and a vigorous writer and thinker, and "Against Interpretation" was very important for me––not as permission to discredit meaning in texts, which, after all, is not what she's arguing––but to embrace the bodily aesthetic sensations that texts can provide (the very thing, I think, that the pomo films she most often engaged in allowed her to avoid). And it was reactionary, importantly. She felt that an "erotics of art" had been undeveloped and had left engagement with texts as excessively intellectual, something she very much would come to regret in her own interactions with art decades later as is expressed in a New Yorker piece on her. For what it's worth, the second piece in Against Interpretation, "On Style" is great as well, and at least the first half very eloquently lays out the problem with much discourse around "style."

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TheKieslowskiHaze
Joined: Fri Apr 03, 2020 10:37 am

Re: Film Criticism

#1120 Post by TheKieslowskiHaze » Thu Sep 17, 2020 9:26 pm

In other film critic news, Ringer critic Adam Nayman, in promoting his upcoming PTA book, teased that his next will be about David Fincher.

I read and loved his Coens book. It's also just a beautifully produced object. I look forward to the PTA one.

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bottled spider
Joined: Thu Nov 26, 2009 2:59 am

Re: Film Criticism

#1121 Post by bottled spider » Fri Sep 25, 2020 2:14 pm

This is old news now, and might be well known and/or thoroughly debunked by now, but might be of interest to those like me who hadn't heard cinematographer José Alcaine's theory before:Could there be a Hollywood inspiration behind Picasso's 'Guernica'?
(The writer has evidently forgotten Betteridge's Law).

Here is a video essay by Alcaine, in Spanish without subtitles RTVE, and a shorter version CCMA.

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