The Reader, Mr. Rosenbaum

October 28, 2010
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If you watch movies and read blogs about watching movies, or blog with movie-like aplomb and thus spend your days (sort of like I do) plaintively “watching” the Internet, then Jonathan Rosenbaum is a man who needs no introduction. He certainly deserves a better one, no? Preeminent critic, global film connoisseur, former bandmate of Chevy Chase, opiner of Dead Man and op-ed penner upon the death of Ingmar Begman, Rosenbaum has been one of the most important figures in American film journalism for more than a quarter of a century. His most recent book Goodbye Cinema, Hello Cinephilia: Film Culture in Transition collects fifty pieces of his astute criticism from the past four decades, each of which showcases his passion for the way we view movies, as well as how we write about them.
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The book and its author have been receiving quite a bit of attention lately from outlets as varied as the films Rosenbaum engages, like the Onion‘s A.V. Club:

Ceaselessly prolific, frighteningly well-informed on seemingly every detail of film history, and well ahead of the technological curve, Jonathan Rosenbaum has championed and contextualized many films in his 40 years as a critic. When print film criticism flourished, he could write 1,800 words on Cliffhanger and make them all matter.

Recently, the Nation cited Rosenbaum and his work in a panel discussion (presented here in streaming audio format) entitled “The Future of Film Criticism,” featuring the Nation‘s film critic Stuart Klawans, David Sterrit from the National Society of Film Critics, Lisa Schwarzbaum of Entertainment Weekly, and Cinema Journal‘s Heather Hendershot.
And lest not we forget, the Criterion Collection’s “Book Notes” blog reviewed Rosenbaum’s “invaluable” collection at length, while linking to a recent Rosenbaum feature on the affinities between Carl Theodor Dryer’s Gertrude and William Faulkner’s Light in August.
How about GreenCine Daily? They’re off and running with commentary on Rosenbaum’s “Rediscovering Charlie Chaplin,” one of the essays included in Goodbye Cinema, Hello Cinephilia, noting:

Rosenbaum finds the need for education urgent: in a world where it’s easy to scorn the Tramp as sentimental and outmoded, he insists ‘one can’t even begin to grasp Chaplin’s importance without processing sizable chunks of the twentieth century.’ He then does his best to lay out some of that historical space briefly, and by the end even a hardened Chaplin skeptic may well be convinced they’re the ones at fault.

But perhaps the Globe and Mail says it best: “Rosenbaum . . . is one of the bellwether critics in film reviewing, reminding others of the tradition of serious cinema and keeping abreast of new movements.”
We couldn’t agree more. To fine-tune your own critical approach, check out this excerpt from the book and be sure to follow-up with a visit to Jonathan’s ever-updated blog.

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