From Sir Again, Still with Love
What is a film review? How have reviews evolved as cinema has evolved? What do film reviewers want, and what criteria do they imply not only for the movies they critique but for the prose, the logic, and the details they enlist to convey that critique? Setting aside stars and thumbs and rotten tomatoes, we will engage with the literary, rhetorical, and stylistic aspects of film reviews as pieces of writing with their own history, considering the ways in which strong reviews require the same foundations as other expository essays (structure, argument, economy, evidence) but with specific and highly diverse relations to their readers, their venues, and their points of view. As an opportunity to bridge the "critical" and "creative" facets of literary study, participants in this course will study and write about film reviews by a host of crucial figures (including Rudolf Arnheim, Carl Sandburg, H.D., James Agee, Manny Farber, Parker Tyler, Andrew Sarris, James Baldwin, Pauline Kael, Roger Ebert, Anthony Lane, and Stephanie Zacharek) and will also write and revise their own reviews in response to a wide range of required as well as self-appointed viewings. Neither the films nor the reviews will be taken lightly, and the course expects committed and ambitious studentsbut wit, style, and esteem for the "popular" are warmly welcomed.
...and I have the same question as in the last entry. You've got nine weeks to cover a breadth of film reviews published originally in English, in the U.S.A. (so no Cahiers, Eisenstein, etc.) And you've gotta leave time for some film screening, some review writing, and some expository essays about the styles and rhetorical habits of other reviewers. Who is indispensable? You can see a smattering of who I've got, but who would you teach? Another way to ask: who, to you, are the "essential" American movie reviewers, past or present?