One year later...
It was one year ago, on November 11, that Duncan Shepherd wrote his last film column for the Reader, passing the torch of critical sparks to me and my new colleagues Matthew Lickona and John Rubio. We have savored the task, while knowing that we shall never match the 38-year run of Duncan’s trenchant voice for his demanding taste. That is now almost impossible at any print outlet, although the afflicted but tireless Roger Ebert still reviews (44 years!) for the Chicago Sun-Times.
Ebert’s main podium has become the web. The Reader has built a lively film blog, The Big Screen, enriched most often by Lickona and Scott Marks. We are all quite different from Duncan, but each clear voice adds to the cultural chorus and helps keep criticism (and movie interest) alive. Never expect those voices to pursue what Pauline Kael once called, with her usual zip, “saphead objectivity.” Meaning: there is no science, method, doctrine, or dogma of taste.
Speaking of Kael, whom I saluted in a September column on the tenth anniversary of her death, she is having a mini boom. Published concurrently are the Library of America’s Kael compendium The Age of Movies and Brian Kellow’s biography Pauline Kael: A Life in the Dark. There is a fine interview of Kellow by Todd McCarthy, posted on the Hollywood Reporter’s site. James Wolcott’s new ’70s memoir, Lucking Out, is luckily surfing this surge. A Pauline acolyte, with a gimlet eye and a breathless zest for phrase-making, Wolcott leans heavily on Kael tales for the juicy red meat of his book.
Reviewed in the movie capsules: The Interrupters, Like Crazy, The Man Nobody Knew, Revenge of the Electric Car, and Tower Heist.