Sunday, December 03, 2006

A Moment of Shameless Self-Promotion

Tomorrow at BAM (Monday, December 4th) there will be a gala to herald the release of "The Village Voice Film Guide," a 300+ page book featuring the best film criticism from the paper's 50 year history--and a tome into which Termite Art folks put a lot of toil (special shout out to Joshua Land, who worked as editorial assistant). To celebrate, there will be a screening of Robert Bresson's superlative parable Au Hasard Balthasar, followed by a Q&A moderated by the book's editor, sometime VV film section editor, our boy Dennis Lim. The Voice's three critical behemoths, J. Hoberman, Andrew Sarris, and Jonas Mekas will be on hand to discuss the film, their experiences at the paper, perhaps the controversies that arose over the years (over Ackerman's Jeanne Dielmann, Cassavetes' Shadows, etc.), and other movie goodness; I believe there's a reception to follow.

The Guide is chock full of reviews from the past and present, but a few articles bear special mention: perhaps the single greatest work of American film criticism I've ever read, Hoberman's piece on Blue Velvet; a few bits on 2001: A Space Odyssey, which Sarris hated, and then subsequently praised after seeing the film under the influence of "something stronger than oregano;" and a particularly unhinged Oliver Stone waxing weird on Godard, as he swtiches randomly back and forth between French and English, and laments that he doesn't live his life on danger's bleeding edge like his idol, Jean-Paul Belmondo.

I'll equivocate some other time: there is no finer elegy to the Village Voice's halcyon days than this book, which embraces films that are challenging, transformative, breathless, and alive--film as art, not crass commercialism, from a paper that used to abhor the latter. (These mild reproaches are not meant for JHobs, a mentor to a lot of us, nor Nathan Lee, whom I admire.) So come out to BAM on Monday, or pick up a copy for stocking stuffers (or better yet, do both). With fine online retailers selling them for under $12, The Village Voice Film Guide is a steal at twice the price.


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