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Kenji Fujishima (#110 of 6)

Roger Ebert: A Hero, A Teacher, An Inspiration

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Roger Ebert: A Hero, A Teacher, An Inspiration
Roger Ebert: A Hero, A Teacher, An Inspiration

My initial reaction to Roger Ebert’s death was a selfish one. I was on my way to a screening, and received the news via text from a friend. “I’m sorry about roger ebert,” the text said. This friend isn’t connected enough to the world of Ebert to have known about his “leave of presence” announcement two days prior, so I immediately took to Google, and saw the flood of headlines. Almost in spite of myself, I cried a bit in the street. I wasn’t thinking about the fact that the film world had lost one of its finest voices, or about the hard truth that someone so integral to my whole life’s film consumption was gone. All of that is still sinking in. My first thought was, “I’ll never meet him.” I felt envy for friends of Slant and The House Next Door who’ve had the pleasure, like House founder Matt Zoller Seitz, Ali Arikan, Steven Boone, Odie Henderson, and Kenji Fujishima, and others, like Simon Abrams and Sheila O’Malley, who, in recent months especially, had earned the privilege to correspond with, and write for, the “Movie Answer Man.” I’ve only had a handful of heroes in my life. Ebert was always one of them, even when I was still a film-enamored art student who hadn’t yet shifted his focus to writing. Despite Ebert’s eventual illness, my vision of one day shaking his hand never wavered. It would happen, at some point, at some festival, once I’d built up enough success, or something like that. And then April 4 hit.

HND@Grassroots: Season 2, Episode 14 (32), “The 2008 Wrap-Up Podcast”

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HND@Grassroots: Season 2, Episode 14 (32), “The 2008 Wrap-Up Podcast”
HND@Grassroots: Season 2, Episode 14 (32), “The 2008 Wrap-Up Podcast”

Hello New Year!

We know you all wait with bated breath for the next time that we gather in bars and shout indiscriminate things at each other about new media, film criticism and Synecdoche. But that was 2008. This is now 2009: year of good times, HOPE, CHANGE, that guy who got elected into office and will totally make everything better within 2 minutes or else we’ll start complaining about it.

Best news: Big Hollywood opened. If you want to see how “The People” think, give this site a gander. Then run screaming as the people also helped make Paul Blart a $34 million opening weekend.

Better news: It’s Sundance!! yayayayayyayay!!

Worse news: It’s Sundance! booooooooooooo!!

Before all that, though, we gathered the best and brightest (i.e. the people we know who’ve been on the show before—and we did email Armond White. Still waiting for that response.) about showing up to the bar and talking about what many kept referring to as “the worst year in film.” There were no stand-outs like There Will Be Blood or Juno, and ’08 was weird in that no real Mainstream or “Alt-Indie” contender showed up until the last part of the year: Gran Torino, Milk, Slumdog Millionaire aka Crash with More Brown People, The Reader and Doubt.

Of course, who better to join us than—*deep breath*—Aaron Hillis (GreenCine Daily) and Andrew Grant (Like Anna Karina’s Sweater), Glenn Kenny (Some Come Running), Michelle Orange (The Village Voice, The Rumpus), Evan Davis (Film Comment), Akiva Gottlieb (Slant Magazine, The Nation), Kenji Fujishima (HND, My Life, at 24 Frames per Second), Ryland Walker Knight (HND, Vinyl Is Heavy), Keith Uhlich and Vadim Rizov (who still doesn’t listen to the full podcast but assumes most of you can do at least 15 minutes.)

Special Guest: Dan Sallitt! (Thanks for the Use of the Hall)

Our oddly epic podcast begins on lists and the critical interpretation of “Why Do We List?” Some navel-gazing about that, but when lists are synonymous with digg baiting people to pointless entries why bother with a year-ender? Aaron points out he had 30 favorite films of ’08 and could make a top 50. (Then again, let’s not forget I rarely leave my apartment and sit in a dark closet streaming the latest in Japanese animation on my laptop.)

We do go into a mildly blasé reproach of ’08 films that made us cry, etc; what touched us this year (appropriately and inappropriately); and we then end on the state of documentaries and Dear Zachary.

We’ve also added intermission and outro music! We’re a real podcast now! And we’re almost one year old!

That means, in two more decades, we’ll be legal to drink at the bar!

So as always, thanks and you’re welcome for being able to hear our fantastically inebriated thoughts on film. If you’re curious, after the recording we went downtown to celebrate Filmcatcher and had a gay old time. And ate delicious salmon cubes from a second party before having to take a taxi home. Happy New Year!

(Also, if you ever see Vadim or myself at the bar, buy us a drink. It’s been nearly a year. Someone—anyone. Do it.) John Lichman

Intermission Music provided by Brandon Intelligator featuring the tracks “There Is No Other Way” and “How The Story Will End.” Our outro is from the wonderfully disbanded The Mean Reds.

 

5 for the Day: Life-Changing Criticism

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5 for the Day: Life-Changing Criticism
5 for the Day: Life-Changing Criticism

In honor of critic and blogger Andy Horbal’s Dec 1-3 salute to criticism in all its permutations, we asked contributors and critics from other sites to name the writers, reviews, books, moments and other phenomena that altered their view of what movies or criticism could be.

As was hoped, each writer responded in his or her own idiosyncratic way. But as copy flowed in, we realized the volume of submissions meant that we couldn’t print them all in a single day on this site, together or separately, because it would have been too unwieldy. So the pieces have been published at an annex website created specifically for this event.

To see all the contibutions table-of-contents style on the annex site, click here. Or you want to go a la carte, you can click one one of the names below.