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July 2008, Week 4


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Film and TV Studies Discussion List <[log in to unmask]>
Fri, 25 Jul 2008 21:45:31 EDT
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Many of them came from NYU, U of WI Madison and the U of Texas -- most out of 
film societies and film programs. 

To be fair, there can be a wide disparity of opinions about critics not 
because one is smarter than the other, but because of the media they work for 
and/or the time constraints they're under. For example, Leonard Maltin is one of 
the smartest and most passionate out there and one of the most fun to talk to, 
but because he doesn't write for the New York Times, you might not consider him 
at all. Same with Roger Ebert, of course.

The best critics to me are the ones who see something in the film that others 
miss, are political and social minded enough to see that There Will be Blood 
and Dodgeball both have messages for better or worse, are able to be objective 
enough to see value and meaning even in something they didn't believe in 
before the went into the screening, and brave enough to make a decision about a 
film's worth and not worry how others will critique their opinions. They have to 
be passionate about their work, all the arts, language, people and 
literature. And it helps to have a sense of humor -- especially about themselves.

I'm not the best on past critics (though Sheila Benson, Dave Sterritt, Jay 
Carr and Vincent Canby are critics I always admired for different reasons), but 
of the current in the US print media only and in no particular order:

Stuart Klawans, The Nation
Dave Kehr, NY Times
Manohla Dargis, NY Times
Kenny Turan, LA Times
Ann Hornaday, Washington Post
Lisa Kennedy, Denver Post
Armond White, NY Press
J. Hoberman, Village Voice
Scott Foundas and Ella Taylor, LA Weekly
Lisa Swarzbaum and Owen Gleiberman, Entertainment Weekly
Kent Jones, Film Comment

I don't read Desson Thompson, Peter Rainer, Jonathan Rosenbaum, Jim Ridley, 
Richard Corliss, Richard Brody, Michael Sragow or Wesley Morris enough to judge 
them, but good from what I've read. On radio, the best people that cover film 
are Howie Movshovitz, Leonard Lopate and Elvis Mitchell. And of writers of 
books, it's Kevin Brownlow, Scott Eyman and John Canemaker. Some of that is 
personal, however

I'm SURE I've forgotten some (and I completely apologize in advance) because 
this is completely off the top of my head, but in my position of knowing many 
of them and getting to read 100 critics on the same film (Milestone's 
releases, of course -- I'm not that compulsive about other distributor's films), I 
have found the profession as a whole of being fairly good quality. There are 
certain major institutions (papers and magazines) that disappoint me greatly.

Dennis Doros
Milestone Film & Video
PO Box 128
Harrington Park, NJ 07640
Phone: 201-767-3117
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