Archive for category criticism
Roger Ebert’s death yesterday caught me by total surprise. I did not realize his Tuesday column was, in essence, his farewell.
I will try to write a tribute or an essay of some kind. But for now, I will save his one-of-a-kind 2011 TED Talk. To hear him “speak” of saying his last words and not realizing it was his last spoken words, is heartbreaking.
Former San Francisco Chronicle Columnist Tim Goodman is one of my favorite television critics. I was intrigued when he joined the gang at The Hollywood Reporter (THR) in late 2010 and was bummed when the transfer of Goodman’s blog (The Bastard Machine) from the Chronicle to THR was delayed for myriad reasons. Well I am pleased to see it finally resume at its new home (THR) late last week. Goodman is a writer that is quite effective at building his readership through social media, be it through Twitter or his Facebook page. And he resumed his blog at just the right time, during the latest round of the Television Critics Association Winter Press Tour (or Death March with Cocktails, as Goodman likes to describe it).
I saw the Coen Brothers’ latest film, True Grit, over the holiday. And I toyed with actually writing a review of it (and how much I loved the film). But then, friend of mine (and the blog) Jamie S. Rich wrote a review (for DVD Talk) that effectively captures the greatness of the 2010 film.
“True Grit is a masterful execution of tried-and-true genre material, putting proof to the axiom that even if there are no new stories, there are new ways to tell them. True Grit functions as an old-fashioned western, but it plays like a reinvention of the same. It is at once everything we know about the cowboy picture and everything we’ve always wished modern westerns could be. It’s not revisionist, it doesn’t shoehorn a ponderous conscience into the narrative or dismantle the black-hat/white-hat morality. It’s a hell of a thing. The horse opera hasn’t been this vital in a long time.”
I am gonna miss the New York Times goes the behind a paywall, but until then I will link to it when they garner my attention. This week the New York Times Book Review considers the very nature of criticism in a brief editorial.
“We live in the age of opinion — offered instantly, effusively and in increasingly strident tones. Much of it goes by the name of criticism, and in the most superficial sense this is accurate. We do not lack for contentious assertion — of ‘love it’ or ‘hate it’, of ‘wet kisses’ and ‘takedowns’, of flattery versus snark, and assorted other verbal equivalents of the thumb held up or pointed down. This ‘conversation’ is often lively. Sometimes it is fun. Occasionally it is informed by genuine understanding as opposed to ideological presumption.”
Once again I am indebted to The Second Pass for informing me of multiple “best of” literary lists that I need to reference in the next few weeks.
First up in the lists that caught my eye was The Casual Optimist‘s A Year in Reading 2010. Consider the following nitro (to a sampling of books that included items that may have not been published in 2010 :
“2010 was a year of losing battles and one of the first casualties was time for personal reading. The moments I did have were snatched on the subway and, if I could keep my eyes open, last thing at night. I often found myself unwittingly rereading chapters I had read the previous day, or worse, that very morning. The difficulty this week of compiling a list of my favourite books of the year — and the predictability of that list (to be posted soon) — made it very clear that not only did I read less than previous years, I rarely strayed off the beaten path.”
Anybody that exhibits such a great level of candor is someone I want to pay attention to more in the future.
News broke in the past day or so that Denis Dutton, founder of Arts & Letters Daily, had died. I’ve never mentioned Dutton or Arts & Letters Daily at the blog before. And that was an oversight on my part.
As The New Yorker’s Blake Eskin notes in his tribute to Dutton:
“Denis was the intellectual’s Matt Drudge. Like the Drudge Report, aldaily.com has a retrograde design that has barely evolved over the years; Denis said he modelled it on the eighteenth-century broadsheet. Nevertheless, it became the home page of professors, students, editors. To be featured on Arts & Letters Daily meant your work would be read and discussed, whether you were Christopher Hitchens or a struggling neophyte, whether your piece appeared in The New Yorker or an obscure site with six regular readers. …”
I’m happy to know that the site will continue. And I hope that in the future I will be smart enough to visit it more and link to it periodically.
Dutton seemed like the kind of thinker I could have learned a great deal from, and thanks to the site’s archive, with any luck I will learn from him still in a sense.