Monday, February 15, 2010


Subtitle: The Story of American Film Criticism. Yes, this is porn for people like me.

The film, miraculously, in a spare 80 minutes, absolutely lives up to that title - both of them, actually - diving into the very origins of film criticism and taking us all the way up to the present, providing depth to stories I've heard many times (Andrew Sarris vs. Pauline Kael; the development of the auteur theory; the web invasion), people I needed reminding of (James Agee, here I come), and stuff I was completely unfamiliar with (the birth of film criticism that not only made it a viable profession, but also made film a viable artistic medium).

And really, it's always a joy to hear some of my favorite critics talk about almost anything - Roger Ebert, Elvis Mitchell, A.O. Scott, Karina Longworth, J. Hoberman...all people worth listening to anytime. Again, this is basically porn and I wonder if it has any appeal at all to anyone not already predisposed to it...

And yet, the film poses questions that I think about constantly, but probably don't occur to most people; everything from the tired "does film criticism matter anymore?" (which leads naturally to "do movies matter anymore?") to "is it important to date someone who also cares about movies?" I would imagine somewhere between those two realms are issues worth considering for anyone interested in art and culture, to which film is unquestionably bound.

So I'd say go see this movie and find some great conversation fodder, but it's gone from the Portland International Film Festival and there's no distributor attached to the thing - the director has taken to selling DVDs at, and good on him for it. The website also has info on upcoming screenings in such cities as Seattle, Olympia, LA, Cleveland, Ashland, Brooklyn, and more, so if you're so so inclined, please do check it out.

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