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July 14, 2010

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Lou Lumenick

Congratulations, Glenn. I was so excited about the Siren's topping the list that I didn't read all the way through, shame on me. Though I guess J. Wells will cite this as further evidence you're a film monk, or friar or whatever.

bill

Congratulations! Awfully nice to see Greg Ferrara and Dennis Cozzalio on there, too.

MovieMan0283

Pretty good collection there, though I'm kind of surprised to see Harry Knowles made the list (by reputation only, as I haven't visited the site - seems like a nice enough guy though). Really excited to see Erich Kuersten and Srikanth Srinivasan (whom I only knew as "Just Another Film Buff" till now) made the cut, though. I've dug Erich's work for years but even though he wrote for Bright Lights, his own blog often got so few comments I wondered if it had the readership it deserved. Great to see it get a shout-out! As for Srinivasan/JAFB, in addition to being as wide-ranging and thoughtful as the write-up suggest, he's also one of the nicest guys on the web. Good stuff...

D Cairns

And a very nice dinner it was. And I'm not on the damn list. Fume, snarl, gnash, etc.

Vanwall

Congrats for having such an excellent site, but I already knew that. I, too was glad to see so many other regular stops for me on the list. Hopefully you winners bought M Cairns a coupla consolation French 75s.

Jeff

That blogroll is an online-only sidebar to this article about the supposed death of criticism at the hands of the intertubes.

http://www.filmlinc.com/fcm/ja10/onlinecriticism.htm

Tony Dayoub

I congratulated you on Twitter, but I'm not sure you're on there anymore, so CONGRATULATIONS!

Chris O.

Big congrats. Well deserved. I'll have to include some of these other sites in my routine as well.

Glenn Kenny

For the record, I also found the omission of Mr. Cairns' fine site, Shadowplay (see my blog roll at right) odd and vexing. But maybe the FSLC was limiting itself to blogs emanating from North America. Or something.

The Siren

Yes, dinner was perfection--the food great, the conversation delightful. I may not have to eat again until Saturday.

Thanks very much for the shout-out, Glenn, which means a great deal to me; I'm still flabbergasted. Warmest congrats to you; Some Came Running is indispensable and I'm so glad they recognized that. I share your sentiments about Filmbrain, but despite our pleading he seems to have abandoned blogging. A list compiled by me also would have included Shadowplay and Cinema Viewfinder, as well as Sunset Gun and some others. But the selections...well, that's some DAMN fine company, to say the very very least.

MovieMan0283

Jeff, thanks for the linking to the main article. That was a great piece - it takes up many of the points I made myself in a review of For the Love of Movies last year, though I daresay it's more succinct and artfully written (maybe that's why I didn't make the blogroll? :( ). I interviewed Gerald Peary, as did David Cairns, and in both cases he was pretty apologetic/defensive about the whole bloggers-are-spawn-of-Satan thing. To be fair, he does include a number of counterpoints in the film, with Ebert and Rosenbaum among others praising the blogosphere. But I think if he made the film again today he'd take a much more favorable approach to online criticism. Then again, it's the very release of his film (which inevitably led him onto the internet, given the lack of other opportunities to get the word out) which probably helped change his mind...

But the best points Brunick makes have to deal with the idealization of the past: 1) yes, Kael and Sarris had more in common with amateur freelancers (because, basically, they were, at least initially) than latter-day newspaper professionals and 2) For the past 30 years, criticism was hardly thriving. He doesn't really blame the critics for the latter point, and perhaps it would be a bit unseemly to gently tap in the last nail to their collective coffin, but I've been bothered for at least the past 10 years by a number of trends in criticism which blogging seems to be rectifying (albeit without the benefits that do come from editorial oversight, the pressure of deadlines, and the tightness which comes from knowing you'll be shot down if you don't meet snuff).

One bothersome trait is the tendency of critics, despite all their we're-above-the-mainstream protestations (which even Brunick indulges) to fall in line with popularity. The best signifiers I can think of this phenomenon are the bizarre acclaim which greeted Jackson's loathsome King Kong, and the tiresome apologia for effects-films penned by Richard Corliss. I think both were sincere, but I also think said sincerity was also influenced by a deep-seated desire to seem "relevant" and not like "old fogeys" (bloggers, who tend to be a younger, seem less worried about being seen as hip and with it). It's also more than a bit ironic that Corliss, who somewhat pompously took Ebert to task for glossing on blockbusters in the early nineties, would himself do the same in a period where story and real film style (beyond the effects, all we've basically got our shaky-cam, whirly-cam, and close-up) arguably matter even less.

Also unfortunate is the loss of confidence in itself and the medium, though this is also a problem of format (the latter not being a fault of critics'). When you have to focus only on individual films, many of them terrible, your work is bound to seem less bold than, say, a polemic by Kael or Sarris. Meanwhile, on the other side of the reviewer/critic bridge, in the quarters which did encourage longer writing and broader views, "deep" criticism seemed to become more like a monastic scholarship, more concerned - rightly or wrong - with cultivating the flickering flame among the converted rather than waving the torch before the masses. Blogs - although they are still largely preach-to-the-converted affairs, seem to be positioned better for the latter position. We'll see.

At any rate, online work (much of which, contra the Film Comment piece, not criticism but more general "movie talk" - including image-heavy non-writing), with its diversity, shameless enthusiasm, and conversational possibilities, is - I think - a massive improvement on the old film-enthusiast model, and great things COULD come from it; hopefully they do.

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