For the Love of Movies: The Story of American Film Criticism

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For the Love of Movies: The Story of American Film Criticism
For the Love of Movies: The Story of American Film Criticism
Synopsis
For the Love of Movies: The Story of American Film Criticism is the first documentary to
dramatize the rich saga of American movie reviewing. Directed by Boston Phoenix critic,
Gerald Peary, For the Love of Movies offers an insider’s view of the critics’ profession, with
commentary from America’s best-regarded reviewers, Roger Ebert (The Chicago Sun-Times),
A.O. Scott (The New York Times), Lisa Schwarzbaum (Entertainment Weekly), Kenneth Turan
(The Los Angeles Times). We also hear from young, articulate, Internet voices, including Harry
Knowles (ainitcoolnews.com) and Karina Longworth (spout.com). Their stories are entertaining,
humorous, and personal. Those who hear them may gain new respect for the film critic
profession, knowing the faces and voices, and also the history. From the raw beginnings of
criticism before The Birth of a Nation to the incendiary Pauline Kael-Andrew Sarris debates of
the 1960s and 70s to the battle today between youthful on-liners and the print establishment,
this documentary tells all. With narration by Patricia Clarkson.
Short synopsis
For the Love of Movies is the first documentary to dramatize the rich history of American film
criticism -- from the raw beginnings before The Birth of a Nation to the current battle for
audience between youthful website populists and the veteran print establishment.
Tagline
For the Love of Movies is the first documentary to dramatize the rich, entertaining history of
American film criticism.
Director's Note
I have been a film critic for thirty years, writing for magazines and newspapers, and, the last
twelve years, for the Boston Phoenix. This is a “pro-critic” film. At a time when American critics
are being laid off and fired, and when their influence has diminished, For the Love of Movies is
an unapologetic defense of a profession under siege.
I know intimately many of my colleagues, and had unprecedented access interviewing them for
the camera. I talk to several dozen critics, including writers for newspapers (The New York
Times, The LA Times, The Chicago Tribune, etc,), magazines (Entertainment Weekly, The New
Republic, etc.), blogs and websites (aintitcoolnews.com, spout.com.).
My first desire is for an audience to become intimate with the reviewers behind the bylines, so it
can be understood how critics think about and see movies. How did they come to their jobs, and
to their abiding love for cinema? Those interviewed vividly describe scenes from movies which,
seen as children, made an indelible impression, and which transformed their way of viewing.
Also, today’s critics comment on American critics of the past – Robert E. Sherwood, Otis
Ferguson, James Agee, etc. – whose work inspired them. I offer a history of American film
criticism, from the time of The Birth of a Nation to Bosley Crowther’s 27-year reign at The New
AG Films * 59 Pemberton St. * Cambridge, MA 02140 * [email protected]
For the Love of Movies: The Story of American Film Criticism
York Times, from Ebert-Siskel on TV to amateur reviews on the Internet. I touch upon the
infamous Pauline Kael-Andrew Sarris debates, and show the antagonist relationship between
youthful web reviewers and veteran print critics.
There have been American critics who, simply, are great literary stylists. Among these:
Andrew Sarris, Pauline Kael, James Agee, and Manny Farber. A further object of my
documentary is to spread appreciation for such first-rate prose and original thinking. I hope that
this film motivates audiences to consider reviews by the best American critics, whether in print
or the web, as a key component in watching movies in a deeper, more thoughtful, way.
AG Films * 59 Pemberton St. * Cambridge, MA 02140 * [email protected]
For the Love of Movies: The Story of American Film Criticism
Crew Biographies
Director/Writer – Gerald Peary
Gerald Peary has been a much-published North American film critic for more than thirty years.
His cinema articles have appeared in many newspapers, including The Los Angeles Times, The
Chicago Tribune, and The Boston Globe, and in film periodicals around the world, including Film
Comment, Cineaste, Sight and Sound, and Positif.
Since 1996, he has been a weekly film critic and columnist for The Boston Phoenix. He is a
member of the National Society of Film Critics, and FIPRESCI (the International Film Critics
Association). He has been president of critics' juries at many festivals, including Karlovy Vary,
Rotterdam, Bangkok, and Vienna. A Ph.D. from the University of Wisconsin, Peary heads the
film program at Suffolk University, Boston. He was a Fulbright Scholar, studying Yugoslavian
Film Comedy in Belgrade, and Acting Curator of the Harvard University Film Archive. Since
1997, he has been programmer of the Boston University Cinematheque.
His eight books include John Ford: Interviews and co-editing the anthologies, The Classic
American Novel and the Movies, The American Animated Cartoon, and Women and the
Cinema: A Critical Anthology. He has worked in film production as a story editor for the
documentary filmmakers, Errol Morris and Ron Mann, and he has written screenplays in
collaboration with the Serbian filmmakers, Slobodan Sijan and Srdjan Karanovic.
Producer – Amy Geller
Amy Geller began in film as a television field producer and production manager for
J. Arnold Productions, with work shown on network television, A&E, HBO, MTV, and CNN.
Since, Geller has been producer and line producer on numerous shorts and documentaries,
including the docudrama Murder at Harvard, a PBS/BBC broadcast for "American Experience."
She also produced the Sundance Institute-supported, Stay Until Tomorrow (2005), an
independent feature that won prizes at several film festivals.
The War That Made America, a four-hour PBS mini-series in January 2006, was Geller's most
ambitious, high-budget production, a narrative film recreating for television the French and
Indian War. Geller currently works as a Supervising Producer for NKP Media in Newton, MA,
producing videos for major publishing clients that include Lippincott, Williams & Wilkins,
Houghton Mifflin, and Pearson.
Executive Producer – Ellen Poss
Ellen Poss, a graduate of the University of Chicago and a retired physician, has executive
produced several documentaries including Martha Swetzoff’s acclaimed “Theme:Murder”
(1998).
AG Films * 59 Pemberton St. * Cambridge, MA 02140 * [email protected]
For the Love of Movies: The Story of American Film Criticism
Co-Editor – Sabrina Zanella-Foresi
Sabrina Zanella-Foresi has made films since 1991, directing, producing, and editing more
than 20 experimental and non-fiction shorts and videos. Her feature-length editing credits
include: Shadow of the House: Photographer Abelardo Morell (2007), directed by Allie
Humenuk; Twisted (PBS Independent Lens, 2007), directed by Laurel Chiten; A Jew Among the
Germans, (PBS Frontline, 2005), directed by Marian Marzynski; Damrell’s Fire (PBS, 2005),
American Wake (2004), and Touched (2003). She was consulting editor/co-editor on several
documentaries, including Anya: In and Out of Focus (2004) and Buddy (2005).
Zanella-Foresi also has six years of university teaching experience in Film/Video Production and
Film Studies at Boston University, Harvard University, Emerson College, University of
Massachusetts—Boston, and the Massachusetts College of Art.
Co-Editor – Aleksandar Lekic
Aleksandar Lekic, a native of Serbia, works as a film/video technician at Suffolk University,
Boston. He has been an all-around video-production professional for the past 10 years. As
a producer/videographer/editor, he has focused on documentary profiles of non-profit
organizations which do charitable work around the globe. His documentary shorts have
appeared on PBS, WorldlinkTV, and Serbian national television. Lekic also edited and coproduced short fiction films for the LA-based film company, Anima Films.
Composer – Bobby B. Keyes
The Boston Phoenix says guitarist Bobby B. Keyes "evokes an entire era of classic playing."
He has recorded with Jerry Lee Lewis, Ben E. King, New Kids on the Block, and Robin Thicke,
and been a studio player at the legendary Fame Studios in Muscle Shoals. One of the great
guitarists of New England, Keyes defines our American musical heritage with his unique and
original blend of rock, country, rhythm & blues, swing, and jazz. His songs can be heard on his
CD, “Lady Luck,” and in live performance with the Mystix and the Bobby Keyes Trio.
AG Films * 59 Pemberton St. * Cambridge, MA 02140 * [email protected]
For the Love of Movies: The Story of American Film Criticism
Cast
Narrator – Patricia Clarkson
The legendary character actress is at the top of her career with recent performances in Elegy,
Vicky Cristina Barcelona, and Phoebe in Wonderland. A winner of two Emmy Awards for her
role of Aunt Sarah on TV’s Six Feet Under, Clarkson has appeared in numerous first-rate
American independent films, including High Art (1998), Far From Heaven (2001), The Station
Agent (2001), Pieces of April (2003), and Lars and the Real Girl (2007).
A native of New Orleans, Louisiana, Clarkson studied drama at Fordham University, where she
graduated summa cum laude, and earned her MFA at the Yale School of Drama. Her film debut
was in The Untouchables (1987).
In order of movie appearance:
Harry Knowles
Elvis Mitchell
Roger Ebert
Stanley Kauffmann
Michael Wilmington
B. Ruby Rich
Scott Weinberg
Wesley Morris
Owen Gleiberman
Stuart Klawans
Richard Schickel
John Powers
Lisa Nesselson
A.O. Scott
Harlan Jacobson
Manny Farber
Jonathan Rosenbaum
Andrew Sarris
Molly Haskell
Kenneth Turan
J. Hoberman
Bosley Crowther
Pauline Kael
Lisa Schwarzbaum
Rex Reed
Richard Corliss
Penelope Spheeris
Leonard Maltin
John Waters
Liz Smith
David D'Arcy
Michael Szymanski
Critic, aintitcoolnews.com
Ex-critic, The New York Times
Critic, The Chicago Sun-Times
Critic, The New Republic
Ex-critic, The Chicago Tribune
Correspondent, The Guardian
Critic, Cinematical.com
Critic, The Boston Globe
Critic, Entertainment Weekly
Critic, The Nation
Critic, Time Magazine
Critic, Vogue
Critic, Screen International
Critic, The New York Times
Correspondent, USA Today
Ex-critic, The New Republic
Ex-critic, Chicago Reader
Critic, The New York Observer
Ex-critic, The Village Voice
Critic, The LA Times
Critic, The Village Voice
Ex-critic, The New York Times
Ex-critic, The New Yorker
Critic, Entertainment Weekly
Critic, The New York Observer
Critic, Time Magazine
Director, "Wayne's World"
Critic, "Entertainment Tonight"
Director, "A Dirty Shame"
Columnist, New York Post
Ex-correspondent, National Public Radio
Ex-critic, Zap2it.com
AG Films * 59 Pemberton St. * Cambridge, MA 02140 * [email protected]
For the Love of Movies: The Story of American Film Criticism
Karina Longworth
Jami Bernard
Sarah Polley
Richard Linklater
Jeff "The Dude" Dowd
Doug Liman
David Sterritt
Marshall Herskovitz
Critic, Spout.com
Ex-critic, New York Daily News
Director, "Away From Her"
Director, "A Scanner Darkly"
Producer, "Ocean of Pearls"
Director, "Mr. and Mrs. Smith”
President, The National Society of Film Critics
Co-producer, "Traffic"
AG Films * 59 Pemberton St. * Cambridge, MA 02140 * [email protected]
For the Love of Movies: The Story of American Film Criticism
CREDITS
Written and Directed by
Gerald Peary
Produced by
Amy Geller
Executive Producer
Ellen Poss
Narrated by
Patricia Clarkson
Edited by
Sabrina Zanella-Foresi
Aleksandar Lekic
Original Score by
Bobby B. Keyes
Thrillionaire Records
Cinematography by
Craig Chivers
Nick Kurzon
Amy Geller
Edward Slattery
Producer
Sharon Brooks
Associate Producers
Robin Berghaus
Kathryn Fox
Robert Ribera
Arndt Peemoeller
Associate Editor
Motion Graphics Director
Howard P. Stern,
the abstractory
Field Producer
Jennie Punter
Research Coordinator
Kathleen Murray
Post-production Consultant
Todd Davis
Sound Recordists
Jason OʼNeill
Gregory Gagnon
AG Films * 59 Pemberton St. * Cambridge, MA 02140 * [email protected]
For the Love of Movies: The Story of American Film Criticism
Sound Design and Mix
Robert Todd
Color Correction/
Online
Dave Allen,
Julia Dixon Eddy,
Eddy/Allen Editorial
Online Editor
Elias Mallette
Additional Camera
Bobby Bastarche
Nina Davenport
Robert Fresco
Joe Swanberg
Beth Cloutier
Mark Dennis
Assistant Editors
Cici Hall-Hamel
Christina Hunt
William Adam W. Parker
Additional Voices
Kevin Carragee
Jason Carter
Ed Hoopman
Nina Huntemann
Kim Romano
Lewis D. Wheeler
Additional Music
Kevin Berwersdorf
DJ Flack
John Koczera
Kevin MacLeod
Siba
BK Studio Musicians
Billy Novick, Clarinet/Saxophone
Jim Gwin, Drums
Marty Ballou, Bass
Tom West, Piano
Eric Goldberg, Accordion
Matt Leavenworth, Violin
Sean Hurley, Bass
Craig Macintyre, Drums
Bobby Keyes, Guitar/Bass/
Piano/Drums/Programming
Recording Engineer
Joseph Thomas
AG Films * 59 Pemberton St. * Cambridge, MA 02140 * [email protected]
For the Love of Movies: The Story of American Film Criticism
Additional Research
Julie Buck
Elizabeth Klink
Elias Savadas
Production Assistants
Sarah Carlson
Mario Contreras
Garth Donovan
Karen Jackson
Ezequiel Luka
Frank Ross
Online Editing Consultant
Michael Amundsen
Original Illustrations
Roger Jones
Graphic Design
Anya Vedmid
Website
Eric Martin,
Futura Studios
Nina Huntemann
Intern Coordinator
Kim Romano
Interns
A.C. Abbott
Kirstin Allen
David Chin
Megan Nimura
Jenna Quartararo
Andrius Skrabulis
Caitlin Walsh
E&O Counsel
Karen Shatzkin,
Shatzkin & Mayer, P.C
Production Counsel
Sandra Forman
Fiscal Sponsor
Central Productions
Narration recording
Splash Studios, NY:
Barbara Parks
Nathan Morgan
Michelle Bablo
.
This documentary has been funded in part by the Poss Family Foundation, the LEF Foundation,
the Helios Foundation, and our friends and family. It was produced in association with the
Filmmaker-In-Residence Lab, WGBH Boston.
AG Films * 59 Pemberton St. * Cambridge, MA 02140 * [email protected]
For the Love of Movies: The Story of American Film Criticism
The producers also wish to thank our friends, family, and colleagues for their financial and
moral support during the seven years it took to complete FOR THE LOVE OF MOVIES.
Technical Details
For the Love of Movies was shot on digital video starting in 2001 in New York, Chicago,
Boston, and at the South by Southwest Film Festival in Austin, the Toronto International
Film Festival, the Montreal International Film Festival, and the Cannes International Film
Festival.
The running time is 80 minutes.
Copyright © AG Films LLC 2009
AG Films * 59 Pemberton St. * Cambridge, MA 02140 * [email protected]