By George Robinson
This website is an ongoing compilation of my current thoughts on film as art and industry. It takes its name from the column (and later two books of those columns) that the late Serge Daney wrote for Cahiers de Cinema in the early 1980s when he was an editor there.
I can't promise that I will update this more than a few times a month (ideally on a weekly basis), despite the diary format, which makes it easy to keep up. Unfortunately, I am a working writer and film makes up a relatively small part of my published output these days. While I am not loathe to write for free (and for my own amusement, which often amounts to the same thing), I am loathe to skip meals and mortgage payments.
Who am I? As a film critic, I have been published in numerous places -- the New York Times, Newsday and Jewish Week (NYC) most prominently. The work that will be most familiar to readers, however, isn't really signed by me at all; for six years I was senior contributing editor of the Blockbuster Entertainment Guide to Movies and Videos. In that capacity I reviewed (literally) several thousand films and, once the book was published and being annually updated, well over a hundred new films a year. (For a sample of my other writing interests, check out my website "Essential Judaism and Beyond.")
I am a graduate of the Film Division of Columbia University's School of the Arts, where I studied under Andrew Sarris and was part of the burgeoning army of auteur critics in the early and mid 1970s. We were, I guess, sort of the third generation of American auteurists, following Sarris and his contemporaries, and then the men and women who wrote for him at the Village Voice and their contemporaries (the second generation). Finally, we came along like an occupying army. The main combat was over, the auteur theory was tacitly and sometimes overtly the ruling paradigm in film aesthetics in the popular press and, by and large, the academy. Of course, in the academy, auteurism was being supplanted by other theoretical developments -- structuralism and post-structuralism, Lacanian psychoanalytic theory, a wide range of Marxisms, feminisms and what-have-you.
Three that slipped through the cracks: Francesco Rosi's Lucky Luciano, Kenji Mizoguchi's Shin Heike Monogatori, Orson Welles's Chimes at Midnight
By temperament I'm a syncretist. Over the years I've taken whatever seemed to me to work in the other theories and used it as a cognitive grid overlaying my basic auteurist perspective, but always leavened all of this stuff with -- I hope -- a solid grounding in the political and economic realities that had an impact on the film industry. Without an understanding of those, the rest is empty woolgathering.
I've slowed down considerably from the days in which I tried to see a movie every day and averaged over a hundred new films a year. My other, more readily paying gigs have cut into my movie time and, quite frankly, I'm not sure there are a hundred movies released in New York City (where I live and work) that are worth sitting through. Once upon a time, my annual ten best list was dominated by American mainstream film; those days are long past as the idiots from MTV and advertising have become the dominant force in American film and as the studios, such as they are, have chosen to focus exclusively on movies for 14-year-old boys (chronologically, mentally and maturity-wise).
So obviously, you won't find many teen sex comedies, megabudget SBU movies (shit blows up -- a name coined by my friend and colleague Jeff Zeitlin), or pretty much anything starring sitcom stalwarts like, say, Jennifer Aniston. As they say, "been there, done that" and I don't see any need to ever do it again.
UPDATED 3/14/01 -- NEW ENTRY HERE
Ira Award Winners Announced Here!!!
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