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this petty-bourgeois uptightness, this terror of not being in control, this schoolboy desire to boast and to shock

The 2010 Booker longlist is out, and it seems that most of the buzz in the UK is about who's not on the list. The Guardian article "Amis-free Booker prize longlist promises to 'entertain and provoke'" introducing the list of 13 nominees actually devotes its headline, subhead, and most of the first four paragraphs to the subject of who's missing in action: Amis, McEwan, Rushdie. Elsewhere in the Guardian Books section, research professor Gabriel Josipovici pulls no punches in including these (former?) darlings of the glitterati in his assertion that Feted British authors are limited, arrogant and self-satisfied, compares them to "prep-school boys showing off," calls them "virtually indistinguishable from one another in scope and ambition," and muses that the fact that they have won so many awards is "a mystery." [more inside]
posted by taz on Jul 29, 2010 - 50 comments

 

Fire The Bastards

Fire the Bastards... examined the initial 55 reviews that appeared in response to the publication of William Gaddis's masterpiece The Recognitions. [more inside]
posted by Joe Beese on Jul 27, 2010 - 44 comments

Mad Men: A conversation

The first episode of season four of Mad Men (so much previously [meta-previously]) aired tonight. Shortly after, the first "Mad Men"': A Conversation blog entry was posted on the Wall Street Journal's Speakeasy blog. There will be a post for every episode. [more inside]
posted by silby on Jul 25, 2010 - 112 comments

Loose lips sink ships, and careers, too

General Stanley McChrystal is in hot water over a Rolling Stone article (pdf) where he and his staff are quoted criticizing Obama, Biden, and senior administration officials. (Previously on McChrystal's appointment.)
posted by Forktine on Jun 22, 2010 - 353 comments

Who took my tag?

it was street art until the preservation team showed up... banksy drops a piece in a derelict factory site in detroit. a local grass-roots gallery removes it to their hq for safe keeping. people go nuts.
posted by artof.mulata on May 16, 2010 - 101 comments

The utter inconsequentiality of contemporary atheism is a social and spiritual catastrophe

What I find chiefly offensive about them is not that they are skeptics or atheists; rather, it is that they are not skeptics at all and have purchased their atheism cheaply, with the sort of boorish arrogance that might make a man believe himself a great strategist because his tanks overwhelmed a town of unarmed peasants, or a great lover because he can afford the price of admission to a brothel.
Christian writer Dan Hart wonders if New Atheism might just be a passing fad. [more inside]
posted by circular on May 14, 2010 - 539 comments

a masterpiece for countless horrifying reasons

While Metal Gear Solid is considered "one of the best and most important games of all time," its myriad descendants have been polarizing players for almost a decade. Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots has a particular knack for inspiring people to write convoluted screeds about its flaws. In contrast to most of the game's criticism, James Clinton Howell and Jerel Smith's Monstrous Births: A Formal Analysis of Metal Gear Solid 4 attempts to interpret the game and explain its creators (often peculiar) decisions. (previously)
posted by jsnlxndrlv on Apr 23, 2010 - 35 comments

What makes a bad book bad?

In its latest issue, the American Book Review has taken stock of literature and come up with its Top 40 Bad Books [pdf]. Faced with the unusual Top 40 list (which is not strictly a list and includes, among other things, The Great Gatsby) Alison Flood at the Guardian responds by asking, "What makes a bad book bad?" while at the L.A. Times, Carolyn Kellogg puts forth that the list's only constant is "that the best books that appear on their worst-book list are subject to the most unreasonable critiques." [more inside]
posted by ocherdraco on Mar 16, 2010 - 100 comments

"Clearly, even people who play Farmville want to avoid playing Farmville."

Cultivated Play: Farmville
posted by brundlefly on Mar 9, 2010 - 57 comments

"Plumbing. Can't beat it. Helps any movie."

I mean, in these days of indoor plumbing, the toilet is a naturally potent metaphor for everyday repression, for all the bile and rage and memories and sins and other impure thoughts and unclean urges that can't always kept down or flushed away. Every once in a while when the psychological plumbing gets clogged, the load of excrement becomes more than one's psychological pipes can handle, and the shit all comes bubbling back up from below and spews out onto the surface.
A survey of plumbing in the movies. Wee bit NSFW in both word and image.
posted by kipmanley on Mar 9, 2010 - 33 comments

A Blog About Plays

Blog: Daily Plays. "Reading a play a day and writing about what I read."
posted by grumblebee on Mar 9, 2010 - 4 comments

Avatar = Oz

"The Wizard", by Daniel Mendelsohn. Avatar, a film directed by James Cameron. [previously]
posted by stbalbach on Mar 8, 2010 - 56 comments

Why Are People Always Having Sex With Dragons In Science Fiction?

[NSFW] Why Are People Always Having Sex With Dragons In Science Fiction?
posted by jason's_planet on Dec 26, 2009 - 158 comments

Satire as Journalism

Satire has long been part of discourse, with written records going back to the Ramesside Period of Ancient Egypt, and two primary classifications of satire originate with the Roman satirists Horace and Juvenal. Other notable historic figures have also been authors of significant satire, but not always with much appreciation. News satire furthers the awkward stance with public, as the public may read satire as an outrageous truth, and be angered instead of amused. The Daily Show, and Jon Stewart in specific, ranks well in the fractured world of current news programming, and the show was noted in the New York Times as "a genuine cultural and political force" (previously), but you don't have take their word for it. Pew Research Center’s Project for Excellence in Journalism studied the content of The Daily Show for an entire year (2007), providing interesting (if slightly dated) details on the show. That year included their much-viewed coverage fo the Democratic and Republican National Conventions. And in poll results published July 24, 2009, Jon Stewart was voted America's most trusted newscaster, apparently filling the position previously held by Walter Cronkite. But is it because Stewart is one of the few journalists willing to ask the hard questions or has America been won over by "cheap laughs"?
posted by filthy light thief on Nov 6, 2009 - 54 comments

The Life and Times of Fuzzy Dunlop

The Wire Files Open-access online journal darkmatter, "producing contemporary postcolonial critique," devoted its fourth issue to the television drama The Wire. An editorial explains that the "special issue aims to examine the place of race in the complex formation of the series." Thirteen articles cover The Wire's political economy, subversion of heteronormative assumptions, racial codes, Herc as a Zelig-like nexus, Baudrillardian urban space and much more in a veritable smorgasbord of academic bean-plating.
posted by Abiezer on Jun 29, 2009 - 37 comments

I'll do it as long as someone will publish it for me

Greil Marcus writes Real Life Top Ten for the Believer Magazine, in which he lists "anything that remotely has to do with music, a dress Bette Midler wore at an awards show or a great guitar solo in the middle of a song that otherwise wasn't very interesting." But he's been writing this column online for just about 10 years. [more inside]
posted by Potomac Avenue on Jun 25, 2009 - 4 comments

The influence of Edmund Spenser across two and a half centuries as traced through 25000 different texts

Spenser and the Tradition: English Poetry 1579-1830 is a mammoth database of English poetry and other writings that traces the influence of the great 16th-Century poet Edmund Spenser on English poetry across 250 years. There are roughly 25000 different texts on the site, over 6000 poems from famous classics to obscure ephemera, and further thousands of biographies and commentaries. Since it would take years to read all the material I am happy to say that there is a guide to navigating the database, an overview of its contents, a statistical summary and an essay on tradition and innovation. The immense database, which started life as a pile of index cards, was compiled largely by Virginia Tech Professor David Hill Radcliffe over the course of 17 years.
posted by Kattullus on May 27, 2009 - 11 comments

The Word-Stormer

John Banville's most recent essay on Samuel Beckett: The Word-Stormer. Banville has previously written insightful essays thinly disguised as book reviews on The Painful Comedy of Samuel Beckett, the influence of painting on Beckett's writing, and Beckett on the couch.
posted by HumanComplex on May 14, 2009 - 5 comments

I know what's wrong and that's good.

"...criticism, for lack of a better word, is good. Criticism is right. Criticism works. Criticism clarifies, cuts through, and captures the essence of the evolutionary spirit…
posted by Brandon Blatcher on May 6, 2009 - 52 comments

A Postgraduate Year at Rushmore Academy

Wes Anderson: The Substance of Style. A video essay in five parts by Matt Zoller Seitz. (Links go to the text of the essay; click on the embedded video to view.) [via]
posted by Horace Rumpole on Apr 14, 2009 - 36 comments

"R, and G, and B", a well-curated (and seemingly undiscovered) film blog

"R, and G, and B" is a very well-curated — and, seemingly as yet undiscovered — film review blog by the video artist Blake Williams covering pictures by filmmakers like Werner Herzog, Chris Marker, Chantal Akerman, Hirokazu Kore-eda, Carl Dreyer, Michael Haneke, Stanley Kubrick and, best of all, Abbas Kiarostami.
posted by colinmarshall on Mar 15, 2009 - 17 comments

Your Favorite X Sucks. Or Not.

Pop Culture Blind Spots, Guilty Pleasures, Guilty Displeasures and Sacred Cows from The A.V. Club
posted by Navelgazer on Jan 30, 2009 - 44 comments

Some articles about Blade Runner

Some articles about Blade Runner
posted by nthdegx on Jan 29, 2009 - 59 comments

"The quick brown fox jumps over the lazy dog."

"We could all do worse than to write like Saul Bellow. And when I say write like Saul Bellow, I mean be Saul Bellow. And when I say be Saul Bellow, I mean unzip the skin from his body and wear it as a sort of Saul Bellow suit so that we can get cozy in it and truly inhabit it and understand the Old Macher." [more inside]
posted by zoomorphic on Jan 16, 2009 - 65 comments

Critics justify their existence.

Squarepusher takes on the Guardian's pop critics.
posted by minifigs on Nov 17, 2008 - 99 comments

Underlying most arguments against the free market is a lack of belief in freedom itself.

Friedman under attack More than 100 faculty at the University of Chicago, where Milton Friedman won the 1976 Nobel Prize in economics, are trying to stop the university from putting Mr. Friedman's name on a $200-million (U.S.) research centre. The opponents argue that the Milton Friedman Institute would compromise the academic integrity of the university and serve as a monument to Mr. Friedman's world outlook, which they say has largely been discredited. [more inside]
posted by KokuRyu on Oct 21, 2008 - 31 comments

Next, run with scissors.

Judge a book by its cover. See if you can guess the Amazon rating.
posted by prefpara on Sep 27, 2008 - 42 comments

In everything that can be called art there is a quality of redemption

The realistic style is easy to abuse: from haste, from lack of awareness, from inability to bridge the chasm that lies between what a writer would like to be able to say and what he actually knows how to say. It is easy to fake; brutality is not strength, flipness is not wit, edge-of-the-chair writing can be as boring as flat writing; dalliance with promiscuous blondes can be very dull stuff when described by goaty young men with no other purpose in mind than to describe dalliance with promiscuous blondes. There has been so much of this sort of thing that if a character in a detective story says, "Yeah," the author is automatically a Hammett imitator. Raymond Chandler, "The Simple Art of Murder" (1950)
posted by Navelgazer on Sep 24, 2008 - 8 comments

The New Shock

Art critic Robert Hughes and The Mona Lisa Curse
posted by chuckdarwin on Sep 22, 2008 - 16 comments

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that videogames are created awesome.

The Actionbutton.net Manifesto: The 25 Best Games of All Time. An eclectic list of awesome, and sometimes obscure games, accompanied by impassioned, long-winded, often pretentious and sometimes insightful essays/reviews. [more inside]
posted by empath on Sep 7, 2008 - 96 comments

Hey, That's Mine!

Dude, You Stole My Article They say everyone's a critic, but in this case, the critic is everyone. Today in Slate, Jody Rosen uncovers what just might be "in purely statistical terms ... the greatest plagiarism scandal in the annals of American journalism". Via Stolen from Zoilus.
posted by Paid In Full on Aug 7, 2008 - 97 comments

sinuosity

Realist Fiction by George Saunders:
"Last night, in a biker bar, I overheard two men discussing what distinguished “realist” fiction from more “experimental” work. Although one shouldn’t generalize, I never expect bikers to be literary critics. Well, these were literary critics, and good ones—in fact, they’d bought their “hogs” with royalties from a book they’d co-written, Feminine Desire In Jane Austen."

Experimental Fiction by George Saunders:
"Experimental fiction is the art of telling a story in which certain aspects of reality have been exaggerated or distorted in such a way as to put the reader off the story and make him go watch a television show."
posted by plexi on Aug 5, 2008 - 37 comments

Anger can make a man verbose

Giles Coren is restaurant critic at the Times (of London). Last week he wrote a very angry letter to the subeditors complaining that they were "tinkering with his copy". The subs were guilty of deleting a single indefinite article. [more inside]
posted by MrMerlot on Jul 24, 2008 - 132 comments

Everything should be subject to critical analysis.

Via The Friendly Atheist and the New York Times, this blog post and this article explain two instances of a very, very unsettling new phenomenon. [more inside]
posted by kldickson on Jun 17, 2008 - 93 comments

Thumbs down. No stars.

What We Don't Talk About When We Talk About Movies by Armond White. Premiere.com critic and cineaste blogger, Glenn Kenny responds. Movie reviewers across America lose their jobs. Hachette Filipacchi follows suit at Premiere.com. Kenny blogs about The End of an Era - having written reviews for the site and the previously cancelled Premiere magazine for nearly fifteen years.
posted by crossoverman on May 8, 2008 - 53 comments

Shakespeare and philosophy

Martha Nussbaum reviews three recent books on Shakespeare and philosophy. The essay offers an excellent analysis of love in Antony and Cleopatra and Othello, and an excellent discussion of the interaction between philosophy and literature. [more inside]
posted by painquale on May 5, 2008 - 17 comments

Trying to rape the viewer into independence

17 Notorious Living, Working Cinematic Provocateurs. The Onion A/V Club strikes again.
posted by chuckdarwin on May 5, 2008 - 32 comments

Getting It All Wrong: Bioculture critiques Cultural Critique

Bioculture critiques Cultural Critique Until literature departments take into account that humans are not just cultural or textual phenomena but something more complex, English and related disciplines will continue to be the laughingstock of the academic world that they have been for years because of their obscurantist dogmatism and their coddled and preening pseudo-radicalism. Until they listen to searching criticism of their doctrine, rather than dismissing it as the language of the devil, literature will continue to be betrayed in academe, and academic literary departments will continue to lose students and to isolate themselves from the intellectual advances of our time.
posted by jason's_planet on Apr 7, 2008 - 107 comments

Faster Roger! Write! Write!

Roger Ebert to return to writing movie reviews. Love him, hate him, disagree with him, worship him, whatever, but Pulitzer Prize winning movie critic Roger Ebert, after several operations that have left him without the power of speech, will return to writing movie reviews shortly after his 10th Annual movie festival, Ebertfest. Me, personally, I'm happy as heck about this.
posted by willmize on Apr 2, 2008 - 56 comments

Probably not quite a fiasco!

Atlanta's Theat(er|re) community is unloading on a local Christmas show. [more inside]
posted by bovious on Dec 11, 2007 - 32 comments

Boy Howdy, what a mess

You'd think news of a Creem Magazine retrospective book would be greeted with cries of glee. You'd be wrong. Occasional staff shutterbug Bob Matheu licensed rights to use the name of the beloved, iconoclastic Detroit rock zine years after it ceased to be relevant, but despite occasional "Creem is back" announcements, only produced a website. [more inside]
posted by Scram on Dec 2, 2007 - 12 comments

Pen point dulled

Stylus Magazine is closed. Home to some of the best writing about rockism, and Rasputin, slsking and The Stranger. Greatest hits/bluffer's guide here.
posted by klangklangston on Nov 2, 2007 - 24 comments

Pencils down, please

National Novel Writing Month (seen before) starts Nov. 1. The goal: complete a 175-page (50,000-word) novel by midnight, Nov. 30. If you'd like to start, or are otherwise working on a novel, Sean Lindsay and others would like you to please stop. [more inside]
posted by kurumi on Oct 31, 2007 - 42 comments

The New Comedy of the Sexes

David Denby and Joe Queenan on Knocked Up and the new genre of romantic comedy.
posted by Jasper Friendly Bear on Oct 6, 2007 - 89 comments

Blame it on Bklyn.

'These are a few of my least favorite things.' Melvin Jules Bukiet shares his thoughts on some contemporary writers, some of whom call the borough of Brooklyn home. Writers with names like Foer, Sebold and Eggers, among others. His thoughts are mostly negative. [via]
posted by From Bklyn on Sep 26, 2007 - 123 comments

Going after Gore

Going After Gore "Al Gore couldn't believe his eyes: as the 2000 election heated up, The New York Times, The Washington Post, and other top news outlets kept going after him, with misquotes ("I invented the Internet"), distortions (that he lied about being the inspiration for Love Story), and strangely off-the-mark needling, while pundits such as Maureen Dowd appeared to be charmed by his rival, George W. Bush. For the first time, Gore and his family talk about the effect of the press attacks on his campaign—and about his future plans—to the author, who finds that many in the media are re-assessing their 2000 coverage."
posted by chunking express on Sep 4, 2007 - 168 comments

Siskel & Ebert & Roeper & You

On At The Movies this past weekend Richard Roeper announced: 1) The past 20 years of At The Movies (formerly Siskel & Ebert & the Movies) is going to be archived for free download online. That's several thousand reviews -- from Adventures in Babysitting to Zodiac. Unfortunately, the first ten years of of the show was poorly preserved. Ebert writes, "Starting Thursday, Aug. 2, visitors will be able to search for and watch all of those past debates, including the film clips that went along with them, plus the “ten best” and other special shows we did. The new archive will be at www.atthemoviestv.com, and will be the web’s largest collection of streaming reviews." 2) Roger Ebert will be a guest for an online chat Thursday at 8:00 Eastern (7:00 Central). You can submit questions in advance here. The chat will be at this link.  (Until the actual archive shows up online, you can enjoy these links.)
posted by McLir on Aug 1, 2007 - 75 comments

lepidopterist considers literature

Christopher Plummer as Nabokov lecturing on Kafka
posted by vronsky on Jul 5, 2007 - 18 comments

Crawdaddy!

Crawdaddy, one of the first rock criticism magazines, has made a comeback online, including some selected articles by the magazine's founder, Paul Williams. The SF Weekly has mixed feelings about the magazine's return. (via largehearted boy)
posted by sleepy pete on May 30, 2007 - 7 comments

My white block is different from your white block.

What if Apple is bad for design? Or at least not good?
posted by Extopalopaketle on Apr 27, 2007 - 83 comments

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