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American Movie Critics: From the Silents Until Now

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 25, 2008

    A reviewer

    American Movie Critics, Phillip Lopate, editor. New York: The Library of America, 2008. Paperback reviewed 1/24/08. When the impressive hardcover edition was released two years before this expanded paperback reprint, I had taken issue with the editor, Phillip Lopate, for excluding Internet critics. Sure, many of the illustrious print reviewers have an online presence, but where were his selections of writers who are exclusively online? He accepted my reproach, offering to include Internet critics for balance, though the number he had apparently chosen to embrace, three, could hardly be considered a ¿balance,¿ given the proliferation of such critics today. A look at just the accredited writers on rottentomatoes attests to that. Even more dismaying is that ultimately, the new ¿expanded¿ edition adds only one exclusively online critic, Stephanie Zacharek of Salon.com, one Internet blogger, David Bordwell, and a third, Nathan Lee, who is a print critic with the Village Voice 'which has merely an online presence'. Still, in the editor¿s valuable introduction, Mr. Lopate does add reverence to Internet film criticism, which has come a way from the time that the public considered these writers ¿anyone with a modem.¿ He praises websites ¿devoted to obscure art-house directors, or even a single film,¿ notes that bloggers need not worry about word content while criticizing some ¿unedited stream-of-consciousness¿sloppy, self-indulgent, inelegant writing.¿ He notes that ¿¿.If most film criticism on the web is finally glibly unmemorable, the same could be said for the majority of print reviews,¿ while singling out Internet critics Stephanie Zacharek, Charles Taylor, and Andrew O¿Hehir for special kudos. If you already have a copy of the hardcover edition of ¿American Movie Critics¿ and do not mind shelling out twenty bucks or so for the paperback, this is money well spent, as the volume of classic film essays looks splendid. Aside from a few paragraphs about online critics and a few pages of actual reviews by Ms. Zacharek,Mr. Bordwell, and Mr. Lee, though, the softcover edition and its predecessor¿which I reviewed on this site two years ago¿are about the same. American Movie Critics consists of Mr. Lopate¿s personal selections of the best film criticism of today and yesterday, his defense of the art, and is a must for those who appreciate film commentary for prose style rather than their service as mere consumer guides.

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