Matt writes: In her latest edition of Thumbnails, Chaz Ebert has chosen to place a spotlight on in-depth conversations with various critics including Matt Zoller Seitz, Claudia Puig, A.O. Scott, Susan Wloszczyna, Dan Callahan and more. In addition to reading the full slate of articles, make sure to watch the video embedded below of the epic critics panel from this year's Ebertfest, featuring such esteemed writers as Leonard Maltin, Michael Phillips and Richard Roeper.
Molly Haskell speaks with Matt Zoller Seitz about "From Reverence to Rape," "Love and Other Infectious Diseases," "Steven Spielberg: A Life in Films" and more.
First impressions of the new Amazon pilots, including "One Mississippi" and "Good Girls Revolt."
Critic Carrie Rickey traces the evolution of women on film and behind the camera over the course of her career writing about film.
"American Masters: Inventing David Geffen" premieres Tuesday, Nov. 20th at 8:00pm on PBS. (Check local listings.) It can also be viewed, where available, via PBS On Demand.
by Jeff Shannon
It was my good fortune to be working at Microsoft when the big announcement was made in March of 1995: Microsoft was entering into a joint venture with DreamWorks SKG, the new film studio and entertainment company founded the previous year by mega-moguls Steven Spielberg, Jeffrey Katzenberg and David Geffen (the "SKG" in the company's original moniker). At the time, Microsoft dominated the booming business of multimedia publishing, and the group I was working in, nicknamed "MMPUB," was producing a dazzling variety of CD-ROM games and reference guides. As an independent contractor I was the assistant editor of Cinemania, a content-rich, interactive movie encyclopedia (later enhanced with a website presence) that was an elegant and in some ways superior precursor to the Internet Movie Database.
Lesson for the day: How to have fun while wasting time... Marie writes: welcome to DRAW A STICK MAN, a delightful Flash-based site prompting viewers to draw a simple stick figure which then comes to life! Ie: the program animates it. You're given instructions about what to draw and when, which your dude uses to interact with objects onscreen. Thanks go to club member Sandy Kahn who heard about it from her pal Lauren, in Portland Oregon.Note: here's a screen-cap of what I drew; I've named him Pumpkin Head.
Ah, this is so refreshing. New York Times critic Manohla Dargis -- one of my favorites, as you know -- talks to Jezebel.com about women in Hollywood -- and doesn't hold back. (Compare and contrast with the arguments over Publishers Weekly's Top 10 books.) Just a few highlights:
>>"I am an equal opportunity critic. I will pan women as hard as men. I've had testy people imply that I should go easier on women's movies. I find that incredibly insulting. Are you kidding me? I don't want to be graded on a curve. None of us want to be a 'good woman writer.'
"I don't want to be the woman critic. I don't want to be the feminist critic. I don't want to be the shrew. What I want to do is talk about the art that I love and point out, every so often, inequities....It's a weird balancing act and I'm not saying there aren't contradictions."
>>"The only thing Hollywood is interested in money, and after that prestige. That's why they'll be interested in something like 'The Hurt Locker.' [Kathryn Bigelow's] done so well critically that she can't be ignored.
"Let's acknowledge that the Oscars are bullshit and we hate them. But they are important commercially... I've learned to never underestimate the academy's bad taste. 'Crash' as best picture? What the fuck."
>> "This business is really about clubby relationships. If you buy Variety or go online and look at the deals, you see one guy after another smiling in a baseball cap. It's all guys making deals with other guys. I had a female studio chief a couple of years ago tell me point blank that she wasn't hiring a woman to do an action movie because women are good at certain things and not others. If you have women buying that bullshit how can we expect men to be better?"
>> "I personally don't think either of them [Nancy Meyers or Nora Ephron] is a good filmmaker -- they make movies for me that are more emotionally satisfying but with barely any aesthetic value at all. I really like "Something's Gotta Give," but I don't think it's a good movie.... I'm of two minds. Sometimes I think that women should do what various black and gay audiences have done, which is support women making movies for women. So does that mean I have to go support Nora Ephron? Fuck no. That's just like, blech."