Movies as Politics

Posted By: malii-m
Movies as Politics

Jonathan Rosenbaum, "Movies as Politics"
Publisher: University of California Press | 1997 | ISBN: 0520206150 | PDF | 350 pages | 1.4 MB

Product Description:

Widely regarded as the most gifted contemporary American commentator on the cinema, Jonathan Rosenbaum focuses on the political and social dynamics of the contemporary movie scene–exploring the many links between film and our ideological identities as individuals and as a society. Review:

Currently film critic at the Chicago Reader, Jonathan Rosenbaum has written for a variety of film journals for more than 20 years. Collected in Movies as Politics are more than three dozen essays focusing on political statements of modern film. Covered are such topics as racial stereotyping in the movies, the emergence of films and filmmakers from the Third World, and the cinematic treatment of historical events, such as the civil rights movement, the Vietnam War, and the Holocaust. It's not all heavy going, either. Rosenbaum's essays on Forest Gump, Ace Ventura, and the influence of Miramax are both informative and entertaining, if at times scathing.

Summary: Don't bother…
Rating: 1

This guy is a hack.

In spite of what you might hear to the contrary, you are better off to simply obtain a copy of the Chicago Reader - a free newspaper and this guy's primary vehicle - or see it on the web: chireader. Simply find any of his reviews and read backwards and you will quickly spot patterns. He generally uses history as a crutch and typically attacks directors and actors directly rather than addressing the actual films - ESPECIALLY when the films might be more politically oriented.

His examples are generally trite and frankly you'd be better finding out about this guy's politics before you bother reading anything he writes claiming to be "political". I feel sorry for any film students out there that have this as course material and more so for anyone who was self-motivated to seek this out.

Summary: Rosenbaum as teacher
Rating: 5

Jonathan Rosenbaum is a rare film critic. He writes with an understanding of film theory and history, and also with a perspective of culture and politics, which is emphasized in the selection of these essays. At the same time, he never gets academic to the point of dryness, though many complain precisely about this point. Always, there is a respect for the intelligence of the reader, and he does what I think a film critic should do, which is to teach the reader something about a film, and to help him/her see it in a deeper way. This is not the method of "I recommend this movie / I do not recommend this movie" critiquing.

The films he covers in this book range from those that most moviegoers have seen (Schindler's List, Star Wars) to those that even dedicated film lovers may have missed (Black Girl, Tih-Minh). Of course, it helps a lot to actually see the film before reading the essay on the film, and it's worthwhile to try doing so. Still, some of the films are hard to come by, and even reading Rosenbaum's essays without seeing the film(s) referred to can be a learning experience. He supplies you with information about the film, the director, history and culture, and the film production process, and in reading him, you can't help but begin to integrate all these elements into your film viewing experience.

This book is entertaining and informative, and has deepened my appreciation for film. The Chicago Reader's film column has gained a fan.

Summary: The Most Interesting Film Critic's Most Accessible Book
Rating: 5

Rosenbaum is easily the most interesting film critic writing in english these days, and this is the most accessible collection of his work available. Refusing to succumb to the mindless thumbs-up-or-thumbs-down tactic so common among non-academic critics, while avoiding the endless mire of carrying on a dialogue within the confines of the Ivory Tower, Rosenbaum's writing and analyses are engaging and pursuasive. I certainly don't find myself agreeing with each turn of his discourse – but nor do I feel insulted. Rather, as often as not, such disagreements serve to inspire thought – a pleasure that too little writing about film seems to induce.

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