We can’t seem to force today’s links into our preferred artificial thematic groups.
None of this would matter very much, and the dig in question could be easily laughed off, if it weren’t for the fact a New York Times reviewer has the power to make or break a film, and that an off-handed remark like that can mean the difference between success or failure at the box office. And it’s not just the fate of the film that is at stake: it’s also the fate of the filmmaker and of his or her ability to make more films in the future. With such power comes a dizzying responsibility, and it saddens me to see film critics wield their formidable power with such breezy insouciance.
And suddenly we find ourselves nostalgic for the days when an angry director or actor had to content him- or herself with dumping a plate of spaghetti on the head of the writer of a bad review. Over at Matt Zoller Seitz’s blog The House Next Door, Jeremiah Kipp interviews critic/filmmaker Godfrey Cheshire about the effects of technology on the creation and criticism of films:
I discovered that most of [the undergrads in a class Cheshire taught] read critics online. Thereâ€™s not the culture of the local critic that there was when I was [a student]. Of course, I still write for The Independent Weekly, and Iâ€™m in that market. The thing that shocked me was when I asked, â€œWhere do you get your information about films?â€ Which is basically what films are playing, whatâ€™s opening this weekendâ€”and none of them said The Independent, which is the alternative weekly for that area, which is where you would think that most people their age would go for information like that. They get that online. There used to be a certain factor of localism in film criticism, which was very much tied to print, newspapers and journalism. You read whoever was in your market. Of course, you might buy The New Yorker if you lived in North Carolina to see what Pauline Kael had to say. But you read the writing in the local paper, because that was for a local audience. Now, there isnâ€™t that presumption at all. The position of critics tied to local publications is being continually eroded.
Circle of (cinematic) life: South Korean director Shin Sang-Ok (best known for being abducted, along with his actress wife, and brought to North Korea to make films for everyone’s favorite dictator-cum-alleged cinephile, Kim Jong-Il), who passed away. X at Twitch has a nice eulogy of sorts. Meanwhile, Maggie Gyllenhaal and our imagination boyfriend Peter Sarsgaard are apparently engaged and pregnant with a indie hip, talented baby. Via Gina Serpe at E! Online.
Is feeling power-drilled all over again by one of the worst real-life nightmares of all time a good thing? To me, it is. It happened, it’s real, and this film knocks your socks off because it takes you right back to that surreal morning and that feeling, that almost-afraid-to-breathe feeling, and to me, that’s partly what good films do — they lift you out of your realm and make you forget about everything but what’s on-screen.
In the LA Times, Scott Martelle takes on the "Too soon?" question:
"In a sense, it might have been better if they could have miraculously gotten this film out in the first three months," [USC’s School of Cinema-Television professor Richard] Jewell said. "Things have taken such a detour now with the country divided about the war in Iraq and all the aftermath. [A movie about] 9/11 is a little bit more risky now, or a bit more difficult to predict how the audience is going to respond."
And in The Age, Philippa Hawker takes the occasion of a David Cronenberg ACMI retrospective to write a lengthy piece on the physicality of his films, also chatting with Cronenberg’s frequent composer, Howard Shore.
+ Chronicling the Fantasies and Failings of One Man in ‘I Am a Sex Addict’ (NY Times)
+ Contra Nathan Lee (Caveh Zahedi’s Blog)
+ Cinema, dead and alive: an interview with Godfrey Cheshire, Part 1 (The House Next Door)
+ Shin Sang-Ok Passes Away (Twitch)
+ Gyllenhaal, Sarsgaard: Engaged, Expecting (E! Online)
+ Blown Away (Hollywood Elsewhere)
+ Is America ready for movies about 9/11? (LA Times)
+ A master of body language (The Age)