What books should a critic own? "Each week, the National Book Critics Circle will post a list of five books a critic believes reviewers should have in their libraries." Here are all the lists, from 2007-2011. [more inside]
After the Thrill is Gone: Has a director ever gotten so bad you start to wonder whether you were wrong to love their earlier movies?
"Year-end lists are always subjective and incomplete, but they are especially tricky for books. A dedicated film critic can watch every wide release film and a theater critic can go to most every play, but the book critic is faced with an insurmountable mountain of books each year. The sheer number of books is inspiring as a reader, but it can make 'best of' lists laughably subjective when the critic has only read a fraction of the hundreds of thousands of novels published each year. With that in mind, I decided to crowd source Electric Literature’s year-end lists. First up: novels."
The following conversation took place in 2005 in front of an audience at the Telluride film festival in Colorado, after a screening of Martin Scorsese’s documentary, Bob Dylan: No Direction Home.
Gavin Aung Than's Zen Pencils (previously here & here & here) deviated from its usual "illustrating great quotes" format for a little story, "The Artist-Troll War": part one, part two, part three, part four. You can't argue with that, can you? Well, Kris Straub, whose webcomics include the pychological-horror of Broodhollow (previously here), the satirical sci-fi of Starslip and the "I was Meta before you knew what it meant" Checkerboard Nightmare, used his usually-quick-and-dirty gag comic Chainsawsuit (previously here and kind-of here) to make a response.
Bioshock Infinite is the worst game of the year. An essay on the sad state of videogame criticism.
Mark Kermode (previously) discusses internet anonymity, the popularity of negative reviews, and 21st century film criticism in an excerpt from his new book.
A month after its release, Naughty Dog's sweeping interactive epic The Last of Us is being hailed as one of the best games of all time, with perfect scores even from notoriously demanding critics. Inspired by an eerily beautiful segment from the BBC's Planet Earth, the game portrays an America twenty years after a pandemic of the zombiefying Cordyceps fungus (previously), leaving behind lush wastelands of elegant decay teeming with monsters and beset by vicious bandits, a brutal military, and the revolutionary Fireflies. Into this bleak vision of desperate violence journey Joel, a gruffly stoic Texan with a painful past, and his ward Ellie, a precocious teenager who may hold the key to mankind's future. Boasting tense, immersive gameplay, compelling performances from a diverse cast, a movingly minimalist score from Oscar-winning Gustavo Santaolalla, and an array of influences from Alfonso Cuarón's Children of Men to Cormac McCarthy's The Road, it's already being slotted alongside BioShock Infinite and Half-Life 2 as one of modern gaming's crowning achievements. And while it's hard to disentangle plot from action, you don't have to buy a PS3 to experience it -- YouTube offers many filmic edits of the game, including this three-hour version of all relevant passages. And don't miss the 84-minute documentary exploring every facet of its production. [more inside]
"Arrested Development's fourth season is triumphant when it's not completely falling apart." That seems to be the critical consensus, which sees the season as ambitious but flawed—a "hot mess", if you will. The American Prospectcompares Season 4 to the housing crisis; Daniel Fienberg simply calls the season's length "exhausting". But how has binge watching affected the critical response? Showrunner Mitch Hurwitz asked viewers not to watch the whole season in one glut: "[Y]ou can’t really laugh the whole time. You have to take a break. There’s so much material." Some critics agree with Hurwitz; others argue that this season is "essentially a 7-1/2 hour long episode" and that binge watching is the only way to appreciate the new show. (Sadly, Hurwitz's original plan—to have the new episodes be watchable in any order—fell through.)
Cult writer Renata Adler, whose novel Speedboat has been reissued by NYRB Classics, sits down for an interview with The Believer. [more inside]
What makes the music critics at Collapse Board more interesting than the ones at Pitchfork or Rolling Stone or the AV Club? Well, for one thing, they have more fun: witness The Audacity of Barry Manilow, or their take on Kimbra's "Vows", written as a response to the outrage they received after a negative Gotye review. When they love something, they love it with relish – they think Micachu understands 2012 like no other musician, argue that Nirvana was the biggest thing since the Beatles, and think Lana Del Rey is more interesting than her lips. And when they dislike something, they make no qualms about disliking it – they rip into Titus Andronicus something good, describe a Matt & Kim album as "an excellent litmus test for weeding out fluff-eating imbeciles", and express more ambivalent opinions about My Bloody Valentine and The Mountain Goats. They also, predictably write frequent critiques of music criticism.
The Omnivore's Hatchet Job of the Year rewards "the angriest, funniest, most trenchant book review of the past 12 months," with the winning critic taking home a golden hatchet and a year's supply of potted shrimp. 2013's winner: Camilla Long, for her devastating review of Rachel Cusk's divorce memoir, Aftermath. Among other things, she described it as a nasty, bizarre memoir written by a "brittle little dominatrix and peerless narcissist." (Via) [more inside]
"I was never threatened covering the cops beat nor while reporting on a big Mafia trial, but I was threatened – twice – for writing negative reviews of two restaurants. Shows where the passion is, I guess." Restaurant critics write about (and link to) their most negative reviews and discuss the measured and reasonable responses they received after their publication. [more inside]
A Short History Of Book Reviewing's Long Decline: 'By the time of the first quote “book-review,” criticism had been in circulation for centuries—long enough for writers to know how it can sting. Understandably, then, the critic’s skepticism of an artist's genius has invariably existed alongside the artist's doubt over the critic's judgment.' [more inside]
Sight & Sound's prestigious Greatest Films of All Time poll is conducted only once per decade. The latest edition polled 846 film critics (up from 144 in the 2002 edition) and 358 directors. The results were revealed earlier today and, for the first time since 1962, Citizen Kane has not topped either the critics' or the directors' poll. It has been unseated as the Greatest Film of All Time by Vertigo and Tokyo Story. The magazine has also revealed the Critics' Top 50. [more inside]
There are comics, print and online, and then there are comics reporters and comics critics finding obscure yet remarkable manga and strips. High-Low offers reviews of comics from a Comics Journal critic. The Comics Reporter recently published a list of upcoming comics events. Comics212 founded the Toronto Comic Arts Festival which is going on today. Comics Worth Reading weeds out the chaff so you don't have to. Comic Book Resources is a news source with columns and reviews. The Beat take a look at comics culture. [more inside]
“Vermin!” “Abortion!” “Sewer-rat!” “Crritic!”
Whenever Roger claimed to have the superior intellect, Gene would say, “Aren’t you the guy who wrote Beyond the Valley of the Dolls?”
Enemies, A Love Story, an oral history of Gene Siskel and Roger Ebert that first appeared in the premiere issue of The Chicagoan, has been published today as an eBook single by Now and Then Reader. Slate has a lengthy free excerpt, which includes an amusing anecdotal report that the two men began every taping with a game of patty cake. Writer Josh Schollmeyer, executive editor of Playboy, based the 25,000-word article on interviews with 36 participants and observers of the two men who "essentially invented televised film criticism." (Via)
Reports suggest that director Terrence Malick's recent film The Tree of Life, starring popular actor Brad Pitt, is experiencing a 5-10% walkout rate. Are misconceptions about the film driving audience members out of movie theaters in anger and bafflement? (previously)
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]
Then That's What They Called Music is a series of posts on the Onion AV Club where writer Nathan Rabin (previously) listens to all of the NOW! That's What I Call Music CDs from 1999 onwards. The essays read like a history of a forgotten world, reminding you of terrible yet infectious pop tunes, and are full of great links, snappy writing and one man's struggle to deal with why the Black Eyed Peas, the most corporate band in America, are so popular. [more inside]
Roger Ebert is returning to television: "'This is the rebirth of a dream,' said Ebert, who partnered in recent years with Richard Roeper before cancer robbed him of the ability to speak. He said he will act as co-producer and employ a computer voice to appear on every episode with segments titled Roger's Office devoted to classic, overlooked and new films." (Ebert, previously on MeFi.)
Vulture’s Critics’ Poll of the worst movies of 2009.
King of the rock critics Lester Bangs has been written up in here before, but TheHoundBlog provides us a rare, detailed look at the man behind the myth, both the good and the bad. [more inside]
As I write this, I realize I am about to do something that, for the most part, is never done. I am going to criticize a critic. Filmmakers are never supposed to respond to a critic about their work. It's an unspoken rule of engagement. But in this case, I feel compelled. [more inside]
Negative reviews prompt author meltdowns: Alice Hoffman. Lee Oi-soo. Alain de Botton. Ayelet Waldman. Previously on MeFi. [more inside]
Shockingly, a novel about a Nazi officer who abets murder squads, transports Jews to Auschwitz, has sex with his twin sister, possibly kills his parents and then dies rich, old and reflective has caused a trans-Atlantic controversy among literary critics. Published in the original French three years ago, the English translation of Jonathan Littell's The Kindly Ones hit American bookstores this week. [more inside]
In only three years, IMDb commenter Fedor8 has written over 800 reviews, the majority of which are the most vitriolic comments ever put online. [more inside]
The Village Voice and IndieWire have both put out their dueling film critic's polls this year, with Wall-E and Flight of the Red Balloon topping the lists, respectively. [Previously] [more inside]
Lorenzo Semple, 84, has been a screenwriter for more than 50 years; his credits include "Papillion," "The Parallax View" and "Three Days of the Condor." Marcia Nasatir, 81, is a longtime agent and production executive, was the first female VP of production at United Artists, and produced films like "The Big Chill" and "Hamburger Hill." Together, they are the "Reel Geezers," offering irresistible film reviews on YouTube. To wit: Superbad, Iron Man, Sex and the City, Lars and the Real Girl, No Country for Old Men, There Will Be Blood. [more inside]
On Tuesday, A.V. Club critic Nathan Rabin's reassessment of the rabidly ambitious Perfume: The Story of a Murderer marked the culmination of his Year of Flops project, a reviewing marathon of 104 commercial and critical failures. Here's the index of the films, sorted into Elizabethtown-derived categories of good but luckless movies, ordinary losers, and disasters of mythic proportions. [more inside]
Indiewire put out their second annual film critic's poll recently. There Will Be Blood tops the list, with Zodiac, No Country for Old Men, Syndromes and a Century, and 4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days following behind. [more inside]
"Not everybody's a critic." Richard Schickel bitchslaps the blogosphere (in response to this) and not for the first time. The blogosphere slaps back. (via)
'In defense of film critics' posits that 'Film critics [unlike food critics, etc] are expected to be cheerleaders.' I guess we're not supposed to think it's odd that the piece was written by paper's resident film critic. He does ask at least one good question, though: why have so many truly awful [and poorly reviewed ] films done so well at the the box office this year?
"So I think we maybe have this sort of snobbish reputation. But we're just really honest, opinionated music fans." (via)
The Weekly Blurb - "Your dependable Hollywood quote whore." Probably by the same people who long ago brought us late, lamented Timmy Big Hands. And A Year At The Movies and Movie Megacheese. And, you know, something else.
Looking for an ego boost? The fine people over at The Screenplay Agency are the place for you! No logline too stupid, no script too poorly written! Are you tired of agency after agency telling you that they don't want your 20 year old screenplay about how much you love peanut butter just because "It doesn't make any sense, and is written with crayon on a pile of dirty gym socks?" I know I was! Until I found out about The Screenplay Agency, who promptly accepted every criminally copyright infringing idea I threw at them until I just KNEW I was every bit as good I writer as I've always told myself I am. And all they asked of me was approximately $250 in fees paid to coverage agencies no one has ever heard of and which seem to be owned by the same company that owns The Screenplay Agency! Sure, you've heard of publishing scams like Publish America (part 2) thanks to the diligence of sites like Making Light and our own thread on the matter, but The Screenplay Agency is totally different! For one thing, they only
rip you off boost your ego through screenplays.
Now, some legitimate screenplay writers high and mighty hollywood types have gone and pranked this excellent automated delusion reinforcer. But don't let those spoilsports spoil your sport! (God, I am such a great writer. No wonder they loved my screenplay!) Go ahead and generate your own rave reviews!
Time Mag's 100 All Time Best Flicks Compiled by their OWN critics, of course. Hence no Kevin Smith masterpieces mentioned. The List also fails to mention some of the most popular movies of all time. It can't be right if it doesn't include the Wizard of Oz.
Ten best film list a critique of the U.S? The venerable [some say notorious] French film magazine Cahiers du Cinema unveiled their ten best films of 2004 list recently. Other than their list typically leaning toward films by auteurs - such as Ingmar Bergman and Hou Hsiao-hsien [and Tarantino] - they also included The Village by M. Night Shyamalan. With that choice are they rewarding the artistic merits of the film [which most critics view as minimal] or are they making a statement about The United States? In short do they view the U.S. like the characters in the film - an isolated bunch of paranoid [Puritan] villagers living and acting off of their fears? Or is there some other reason they would choose the film as one of the year's best?
SPOILER ALERT: There's a movie out now that, like The Crying Game, depends for much of its impact on a plot twist. Are critics honor-bound not to blab that development to readers? (More Inside, including, duh, spoilers)
It's not quite fresh, according to mainstream reviewers polled by Rotten Tomatoes. But Christian Bloggers feel very differently. As one reports, I went into the movie expecting to be moved, but never to the extent that I actually was. But both sides seems to agree the R rating should be taken very seriously.
A Critic's Coda. William Grimes, departing NYT food critic, gives an interview to Newsweek. "It’s like 'Groundhog Day.' You wake up the next day having eaten a four-star meal, you must go out and eat another four-star meal. And you get up the next day and you have to go out and eat another four-star meal." I think we've all been there before.
Critics Gone Wild. Rarely do entertainment journalists have as fine an occasion to cut loose and shower their barbs as the opening of Gigli: "I fought the urge to punch someone once it finally ended." Not that anyone's surprised! Enjoy, if you get a kick out of scalding prose.
Hey everybody, it's
Appropriate Michael Savage's name for your own purposesday! With contributions from Haypenny, über, Neal Pollack himself, and much, much, more, all in response to these threats.
Why Are The Six Best Restaurants in New York All French? Because William Grimes from the New York Times
is a massive, provincial, toadying snob, that's why says so. [NYT reg. req.] With his haughty tone, architectural blatherings and whiney voice [Real Video link] he's undoubtedly my pet hate among restaurant critics, even though he obviously knows his stuff, not to mention a thing or two about cocktails [here is his take on the Martini]. My favourite critics are GQ's Alan Richman and the Anti-Grimes himself, a man who truly knows his food, Robert Sietsema of The Village Voice. What critics get your goat or vote? Which ones are worth reading and following? More importantly, which ones - or anonymous restaurant guides, like Zagat's, can you trust, if any?
Chinese-art.com is a web-based portal site designed to provide.. [more]
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