“No one is weeping for these people, who are gorgeous, wake up gorgeous and go to sleep richer. Especially not Chris Evans, who now gets to pursue the dream of directing, one he’ll live out by directing another film at the end of this year. He credits Captain America for the opportunity, saying, ’Without these movies, I wouldn’t be directing. They gave me enough overseas recognition to greenlight a movie.’ But he then adds, ’And if I’m speaking extremely candidly, it’s going to continue to do that for as long as the Marvel contract runs… If I’m acting at all, it’s going to be under Marvel contract, or I’m going to be directing. I can’t see myself pursuing acting strictly outside of what I’m contractually obligated to do.’ Chris Evans is a wonderful onscreen presence, an actor of great skill and dexterity, not to mention starling beauty. You’d hate to think that playing a superhero has extinguished any desire he might have to appear before the camera. Don’t be surprised if he’s not the last actor to feel this way.”
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.
Mary Elizabeth Williams explains why Belinda Carlisle couldn’t get laid backstage.
Paul Brunick considers Joseph McBride’s landmark biographies and the craft of film scholarship.
To Kenji Fujishima, John Luther Adams’s Inuksuit is the equivalent of Jacques Tati’s Playtime.
Report decries lack of paid parental leave in the United States of Family Values.
Links for the Day: A collection of links to items that we hope will spark discussion. We encourage our readers to submit candidates for consideration to firstname.lastname@example.org and to converse in the comments section.
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.
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
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.