Frame By Frame: Film Critics
UNL Film Studies professor Wheeler Winston Dixon explains why there's more to reviewing films than just "thumbs up" or "thumbs down."
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- [00:00:13.547]Hi. I'm Wheeler Winston Dixon, James Ryan professor of Film Studies at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln,
- [00:00:18.519]and today I'd like to speak about my fellow film critics.
- [00:00:22.293]There are basically two kinds of film critics.
- [00:00:26.496]There are the daily film critics, and there are film critics that are involved in more serious work,
- [00:00:32.365]basically taking films apart.
- [00:00:34.235]This is not to take away from daily film critics.
- [00:00:36.737]They have to respond to films immediately, and they write for a mass audience.
- [00:00:41.609]Some of the best, major film critics writing today include Michael Atkinson,
- [00:00:47.915]Mahonla Darges at the New York Times,
- [00:00:51.039]Roger Ebert, of course, is very famous,
- [00:00:53.787]David Edlestien, Leonard Maltin, Janet Mazin, Elvis Mitchel, Jim Hobberman.
- [00:01:01.999]These are people who are writing on a daily basis for audiences, and the more thoughtful of them do really brilliant work.
- [00:01:08.902]Pauline Kael, of course, was one of the great film critics who founded criticism,
- [00:01:13.207]James Agee, and of course, Andrew Sarris, who brought "auturism" to America,
- [00:01:18.648]in 1963, with his great book, "The American Cinema,"
- [00:01:22.332]which for the first time considered directors as the primary makers of the film, which he introduced from France in the 1940s.
- [00:01:29.863]But now we come to academic film critics, who take films more seriously and unpack them in greater detail.
- [00:01:37.197]Their work is not widely read, except by academics, but it's enormously influential within the film community,
- [00:01:44.038]and also within critics because it informs what people write on a daily basis.
- [00:01:48.575]And some of the greatest of these are Carol Clover, who wrote a great book called "Men, Women and Chainsaws,"
- [00:01:56.016]which is about the slasher film.
- [00:01:57.718]Christian Metz, who is the founder of Semiotics.
- [00:02:00.988]Laura Mulvey, who is the foremother of feminist film criticism.
- [00:02:06.193]Tony Rayns, Kaja Silverman, Mary Ann Doane, David Sterritt, Robin Wood, Jean Luc Goddard,
- [00:02:17.705]and Sergi Eisenstein, who is the great Soviet film director, but who also wrote the very first books about film criticism...
- [00:02:25.546]"Film Form" and "Film Sense," when he was banned from making films by Stalin, back in the 1930s.
- [00:02:31.251]There are many more that I can mention, but basically we have here 2 kinds of visions:
- [00:02:36.657]One is for daily consumption, and one which takes the film more seriously and unpacks it for the long range.
- [00:02:43.130]Both are important. Both influence each other.
- [00:02:46.233]And the more thoughtful daily critics have read all of the more serious film critics who unpack things, which makes their work more important.
- [00:02:55.008]So, when you read somebody like Jim Hobberman, or Andrew Sarris, or A.O. Scott...
- [00:03:00.447]They know the work of serious film theorists, and it informs their work, and makes it much deeper and richer.
- [00:03:06.987]I'm Wheeler Winston Dixon, and this is Frame By Frame.
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