Richard Schickel seems to deliver compulsive little love taps to the film blogging world every time he’s given the opportunity to review the work of a print critic â€” his latest assault is tucked away in an LA Times review of the collected essays of Gary Giddins:
To write seriously about topics â€” movies, jazz, popular fiction â€” that many people regard as peripheral or totally irrelevant to their lives is among the least gratifying of occupations. That’s particularly true now, when the pendulum seems to be permanently stuck at the burbling end of the spectrum, where the bloggers â€” history-free and sensibility-deprived â€” weekly blurb the latest Hollywood effulgence and are rewarded by seeing their opinions bannered atop movie display ads in type sizes elsewhere reserved for the outbreak of wars and the demise of presidents.
Even in the dwindling realm where critics still attempt to make fine distinctions, there are problems, mostly of tone. For my sins, I enjoy the wise-guy riffs of Anthony Lane in the New Yorker, but I have to admit that his manner is not well-suited to the middle range, where many of the movies that are most interesting to write about uneasily reside. At the spectrum’s other end is Stanley Cavell â€” the professor Irwin Corey of film studies â€” who has never met a movie he cannot obfuscate with a viscous prose style that reaches ever higher levels of unintended risibility. Where, I’ve often wondered, is a critic who wears his erudition lightly, writes with an impeccable combination of verve and sobriety and, above all, makes you see (and hear) the objects of his ruminations? Is it possible to find such a critic whose medium is prose (always slow-footed in comparison, say, to a Bryan Singer movie) and topics evanescent: a perfect cut between scenes in a movie, for example, or a four-bar melodic fragment in an arrangement of Gil Evans’ song "La Nevada."
A fair enough wish â€” but why must it come with such a petty opening? Worse, it convinces us that Schickel has never actually read a blog; if he’s truly objecting to the blurbization of film reviews, his real enemy would be the economic and editorial forces in print media conspiring to make the capsule review the norm.
Whatever. While we’re on the topic of the web: John Clark at the New York Times writes about the realities of making the leap from having web-cred to having an actual studio deal:
Whether the Internet will ever become a seed bed for full-length movies remains to be seen. The independent filmmaker Joe Swanberg (â€œKissing on the Mouth,â€ â€œLOLâ€), who was hired by Nervevideo.com to create what he describes as an â€œindie soap opera for the Webâ€ called â€œYoung American Bodies,â€ said the Net is the wrong place to watch a conventional narrative of conventional length.
â€œI have a hard time focusing on the computer screen for 90 minutes,â€ Mr. Swanberg, 25, said. â€œA feature film isnâ€™t interactive. I think a theater is still the best venue for that.â€
Very nice, Mr. Swanberg!
And some goodies new to the Internet of late:
Trailer for Ridley Scott‘s "A Good Year" on Yahoo, here: Strange to see a slimmed-down Russell Crowe looking bookish; his love interest is Marion Cotillard, who played the memorably sexy-crazy Sophie Kowalsky in "Love Me If You Dare."
+ A master craftsman (LA Times)
+ Hollywood Clicks on the Work of Web Auteurs (NY Times)
+ Trailer: A Good Year (Yahoo)
+ Trailer: The Fountain (Apple)
+ Trailer: The Piano Tuner of Earthquakes (Zeitgeist Films)
+ Trailer: Half Nelson (Movies.com)
+ Trailer: Shortbus (iFilm)
+ March of the Penguins (YouTube)