• Sadly, I realized that the critical bellweather Roger Ebert was not infallible when he lauded Piper Perabo’s performance in Coyote Ugly, and by extension gave the movie a passing grade. Lo and behold, famous critics can be won over by not-entirely-deserving, beautiful heroines.
Happily, I soon discovered that he is famous for a reason. It’s not like nobody has read Ebert, but I think his lists of ‘best movies’ (see link below for ‘first 100 best films’) are respectable and truly well-written.
Here is a quick sample of his to-the-point writing on 8 1/2.:
“The critic Alan Stone, writing in the Boston Review, deplores Fellini's "stylistic tendency to emphasize images over ideas." I celebrate it. A filmmaker who prefers ideas to images will never advance above the
second rank because he is fighting the nature of his art. The printed word
is ideal for ideas; film is made for images, and images are best when they
are free to evoke many associations and are not linked to narrowly
defined purposes. Here is Stone on the complexity of "8 1/2": "Almost no
one knew for sure what they had seen after one viewing." True enough.
But true of all great films, while you know for sure what you've seen after one viewing of a shallow one.”
-Roger Ebert, May 28, 2000
Sometimes, the “old critics” can be the best starting place. Ebert, I think, is a great primer on classics and gives you a palatable way to enjoy reading about filmmaking techniques.
• Other times, one likes to read the Self-Styled Siren's insightful words and her wonderful sidebar links. (click the self-styled siren to go to there.)
With devotion to the craft, the skill, the mise-en-scene, the research, it’s good...all good.
The Siren on Sydney Greenstreet, June 3 2009:
“Greenstreet always played a man who enjoys every minute spent
acquiring his heft and finds it an advantage, not a hindrance. In
theatrical parlance, he takes the stage. Watch Greenstreet in The
Verdict, gliding to stand near his rival (George Colouris) when first
informed of his horrible mistake, letting his bigness speak for the
character's imposing career and experience. He is the furthest thing
from an apologetic or buffoonish fat man imaginable.”
• The Film Doctor, too, comprehensive words on recently released films:
• Girish, with thoughtful writing and collected online resources
• The Passionate Moviegoer: Obscura!
Joe Baltake’s take on The Real Housewives’ origins, May 13, 2009 (and it makes me pretty happy to relate to both Bravo’s terriflyingly addictive hit and TCM):
“For reasons which, initially, I could barely explain, I've become
a devotee of the "Real Housewives" shows on Bravo, particuarly
the latest one, "The Real Housewives of New Jersey," which is
easily the entertainment version of fast food - great-tasting,
unhealthy and guilt-producing.
But then, one day, when I was able to tear myself away from
Bravo and return to my beloved Turner Classic Movies, I realized something. Turner was promoting its May 14th screening of George Cukor's "The Women" of 1939 and it suddenly dawned on me that,
60 years later, Bravo's collective series on catty, acquisitive, self-absorbed, untrustworthy women of privilege is clearly the heir to Cukor's classic.”
• The Back Row Manifesto
Surveying the best that’s out there and about to be out there.
• The Daily, by David Hudson