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We are all a bunch of Winnie the Poohs

Jed Perl reviews "Thomas Kinkade: The Artist in the Mall"
posted by vidur on Jul 18, 2011 - 67 comments

Underrated Movies

Notes on 124 underappreciated films. [more inside]
posted by Iridic on Jul 18, 2011 - 139 comments

The essays of Kenneth Rexroth

The poet and translator Kenneth Rexroth, one of the central figures in the San Francisco Renaissance, only wrote prose for money. But he did it very well. (way previously) [more inside]
posted by Trurl on Jul 3, 2011 - 8 comments

“—to remind us of the values we've lost, and of those that we've allowed ourselves to relinquish.”

Abigail Nussbaum, senior reviews editor for Strange Horizons, has written a series of personal blog posts on Star Trek: The Next Generation and Star Trek: Deep Space Nine. [more inside]
posted by kipmanley on Jun 8, 2011 - 87 comments

"...the way of nature, and the way of grace."

For Roger Ebert, it's a prayer that made him "more alert to the awe of existence." For Rober Koehler, it's a kitschy New Age con. For Richard Brody, it perfectly captures the essence of a generation by depicting a character thinking "back to the musings and fantasies of childhood, which are the product of a wondrous and fantastic view of science formed by popular-science books for children and by the commercial artists whose illustrations adorned them." For Stephanie Zacharek, it's "a gargantuan work of pretension." For Ignatiy Vishnevetsky, it's "a creation myth in the guise of a crypto-autobiography" that invents a universe of its own only to destroy it. For J. Hoberman, it's lifeless and dull, "essentially a religious work and, as such, may please the director's devotees, cultists, and apologists." It spent thirty years in development, three in editing and, yes, it contains dinosaurs. The Tree of Life, written and directed by famously reclusive Zoolander fan and "JD Salinger of American movies" Terrence Malick , won the Palme d'Or at this year's Cannes Film Festival. Tomorrow, it comes out in the United States. [more inside]
posted by alexoscar on May 26, 2011 - 64 comments

The Master of the Capsule Review

Long before he wrote DVD reviews for The New York Times, Dave Kehr spent 11 years at the Chicago Reader perfecting the 100-word capsule review into a vehicle for his succinct, astute writing on a wide variety of films. All of them can be read for free at the Chicago Reader's website. Additionally, his long-overlooked long reviews have just been collected and published. [more inside]
posted by alexoscar on Apr 19, 2011 - 26 comments

SWAG. SWAG. SWAG. SWAG.

In Defense of Offensive Art - What the hell does Odd Future's music mean?
posted by azarbayejani on Apr 17, 2011 - 46 comments

Myers vs. Brooks

Polysyllabic Magical Incantations. For those who enjoy vigorous criticism, a bone-crushing takedown from biologist and blogger PZ Myers of David Brooks' latest foray into belles lettres. [more inside]
posted by steambadger on Mar 4, 2011 - 34 comments

Christian Clemmensen's Filmtracks

Prickly, idiosyncractic and unashamedly pro-Goldsmith, Christian Clemmensen has reviewed modern movie scores at Filmtracks since 1996.
posted by Iridic on Jan 25, 2011 - 7 comments

Ignatiy Vishnevetsky

Hearing him discuss films one day in the Lake Street Screening Room used by Chicago critics, Ebert said, "I was struck by the depth and detail of his film knowledge, and by how articulate he was." After reading his work online, Ebert was sold.
Ignatiy Vishnevetsky, 24, will co-host the revival of At the Movies with Christy Lemire. [previously] [more inside]
posted by Iridic on Jan 4, 2011 - 35 comments

Rise of the Neuronovel

Rise of the Neuronovel. Marco Roth at N+1 argues that the recent interest of contemporary novels (Motherless Brooklyn, Saturday, Atmospheric Disturbances) in the disordered wetware of their characters represents a defeat for fiction. "...the new genre of the neuronovel, which looks on the face of it to expand the writ of literature, appears as another sign of the novel’s diminishing purview." Jonah Lehrer responds to Roth and Roth responds back.
posted by escabeche on Jan 2, 2011 - 58 comments

"Serge Daney was the end of criticism as I understood it."

Serge Daney (1944 - 1992) is often cited as one of the greatest film critics. After joining the legendary film magazine Cahiers du cinéma (which he would eventually edit) at age 20, Daney wrote extensively on the changing place of movies in culture, on directors new and old and on television, war and even sports. He founded the film magazine Trafic before dying of AIDS in 1992.

Though some of his essays have been officially translated and a small book of his writings has been published in English, the vast majority of his work remains untranslated into English. That hasn't stopped a devoted group of cinephiles from taking matters into their own hands. [more inside]
posted by alexoscar on Dec 13, 2010 - 12 comments

Harry Potter and the Incredibly Conservative Aristocratic Children's Club

Harry Potter and the Incredibly Conservative Aristocratic Children's Club
posted by Joe Beese on Nov 28, 2010 - 161 comments

A living post-mortem

Dead Homer Society is a Simpsons related blog that reviews the latest episodes of the show, provides quotes of the day, and perhaps most notably compares and contrasts segments between what the author terms "the Simpsons" and "Zombie Simpsons". [more inside]
posted by codacorolla on Nov 15, 2010 - 77 comments

Chris Stangl's Exploding Kinetoscope

This may only occur to the obsessive student of The Parent Trap, but once the subtleties are noticed, hints start stacking up, and a creeping sense of the mythic pervades the film...
Join Chris Stangl, King of the Beanplaters, as he obsessively studies The Parent Trap, Little Shop of Horrors, Beetlejuice, Teen Wolf, the original Buffy the Vampire Slayer, and more.
posted by Iridic on Oct 28, 2010 - 33 comments

Dexter should say “The foot was severed through the distal end of the tibia and fibula”.

Informed critiques of the science behind TV shows, by scientists: The Big Blog Theory (The Big Bang Theory), Polite Dissent (Fringe, House MD - with an excellent sideline of medicine in comics (previously)), Barone Rocks (Dexter).
posted by Bora Horza Gobuchul on Oct 22, 2010 - 30 comments

Charlie Brooker calls it Quits

"… if I ever have to see this gurning little maggot clicking into faux reverie mode again – rising from his seat to jazz-slap the top of his piano wearing a fake-groove expression on his piggish little face – if I have to witness that one more time I'm going to rise up and kill absolutely everybody in the world, starting with him and ending with me.". Charlie Brooker, the UK Guardian's TV 'critic', calls it quits.
posted by lalochezia on Oct 15, 2010 - 71 comments

Bring in 'The Imp'

Even though only four issues were published, Daniel Raeburn's 'The Imp' is widely regarded as a classic publication of comics criticism. Long out of print, he has now put them online for free. The four insanely comprehensive issues each cover Daniel Clowes, Chris Ware, Jack Chick and Mexican Historietas (violent and bizarrely sexual comics-NSFW). [more inside]
posted by AzzaMcKazza on Sep 3, 2010 - 15 comments

Overrated Writers

The 15 Most Overrated Contemporary American Writers by Anis Shivani [more inside]
posted by shotgunbooty on Aug 11, 2010 - 167 comments

Board Games with Scott!

Confused in Catan? Conflicted about Carcassonne? Puzzled in Puerto Rico? You've heard about all these awesome new board games that are out these days, but don't know where to begin? Help is here! Scott Nicholson knows all about 'em, and will explain them in great detail in his video series Board Games With Scott! [more inside]
posted by JHarris on Aug 8, 2010 - 56 comments

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

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