Yearly Archives: 2013

Response to a Survey by Neil McGlone

A shorter version of these responses appeared with the responses of several other film critics in the November 2013 issue of Verite Magazine, a digital monthly. — J.R.

Film Criticism “Then and Now”:

1.How has film criticism and the role of a film critic evolved since you first started?

One very striking change is the inordinate number of surveys of this kind that exist now as opposed to then. Even after I factor in the frequency with which I’m asked to participate nowadays, because of being better known today than I was in the 1970s, I think the interest in film criticism as a topic has grown quite a bit.

Thanks to academia, the Internet, and other factors, there are many more forms of criticism and outlets for its dissemination now. We also have more ways of discovering these forms and outlets in the present, at least if we’re interested. The conversations and exchanges begin more quickly and can travel much greater distances. There’s much more good stuff and much more bad stuff, which means the task of determining and then focusing on what one is looking for becomes much more complicated — unless one is passive and simply follows the industry’s discourse, which of course is what most people tend to do, one way or another, and what most people also tended to do half a century ago.Read more »

Introduction to an Unknown Filmmaker

Written in early October for “En movimiento,” my bimonthly column for Caimán Cuadaernos de Cine, written in alternation with Adrian Martin, for their November 2013 issue. — J.R.

It was a little over 25 years ago, shortly after I moved to Chicago, that I first encountered the staggering work of Peter Thompson, a local independent filmmaker I’d never heard of. I saw his first four films (he was never to make more than six) –- two “diptychs” consisting of films about his parents (Two Portraits, both made in 1981) and Universal Hotel and Universal Citizen, both made in 1986, exploring respectively eleven photographs and two drawings of a Polish POW who was frozen and then thawed by a German prostitute as part of a Nazi experiment and Thompson’s attempts to photograph a Libyan Jewish smuggler and former Dachau inmate in a Guatemalan jungle. Not long afterwards, seeing Thompson interviewed one afternoon on local TV, I felt an urgent desire to become friends with him, and we met soon afterwards.

Eventually we became neighbors as well as good friends, and I saw his two subsequent films, the 83-minute El movimiento, (2003), charting the complicated relationship over a decade between himself, an American anthropologist (William C.… Read more »

Responses to Spielberg Poll

Given to Indiewire in March 2013:

THE SPIELBERG POLL

AI-boy&mother

1941-dance


BEST FILM
You may vote for up to 5 films.

1. A.I. Artificial Intelligence
2. 1941
3. Close Encounters of the Third Kind
4.
5.


BEST DIRECTING JOB
You may vote for up to 5 films.

1941-ferriswheel

1. 1941
2. A.I. Artificial Intelligence
3. Close Encounters of the Third Kind

closeencounters-door


BEST LEAD PERFORMANCE
You get five votes. Remember to list both an actor’s name and the title of the film he or she appears in.

AI-Davids

1. Haley Joel Osment (David) in A.I. Artificial Intelligence
2. John Belushi (Captain Wild Bill Kelso) in 1941

1941-Belushi


BEST SUPPORTING PERFORMANCE
You get five votes. Remember to list both an actor’s name and the title of the film he or she appears in.

AI-boy&Teddy

1. Teddy (teddy bear/prop/special effect) in A.I. Artificial Intelligence
2. Jude Law (Gigolo Joe) in A.I. Artificial Intelligence


BEST SCENE
You get five votes. Feel free to include an explanation of why a certain scene/moment/sequence made your list.

1. last scene in A.I. (emotional virtuosity and bleakness)
2. restaurant sequence in 1941 (technical virtuosity and exhilaration)


BEST HERO
You get five votes. Include the character name and the film in which he/she appears.

1. Haley Joel Osment (David) in A.I.Read more »

THE FORGOTTEN SPACE

From the January/February 2013 Film Comment. — J.R.

The Forgotten Space Allan Sekula & Noel Burch

The Forgotten Space
Allan Sekula & Noël Burch, U.S.

A mind-bending essay film about sea cargo in the contemporary global economy, filmed mainly in four port cities (Bilbao, Hong Kong, Los Angeles, and Rotterdam) and what the filmmakers call “the industrial hinterland in south China and the transport hinterland in the heart of Holland.” Too political for mainstream taste, obligatory for everyone else.—Jonathan RosenbaumRead more »