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Negative Space: Manny Farber on the Movies Paperback – 1 Mar 1998


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Product details

  • Paperback: 424 pages
  • Publisher: Da Capo Press Inc; New edition edition (1 Mar. 1998)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0306808293
  • ISBN-13: 978-0306808296
  • Product Dimensions: 12.7 x 2.4 x 20.3 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 194,844 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
  • See Complete Table of Contents

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Product Description

About the Author

Manny Farber's early film criticism appeared in the "New Republic, " the "Nation, " and the"New Leader"; his essays with Patricia Patterson were published by "Artforum, City, " and "Film Comment." A lifelong painter, Farber has exhibited his work nationally since 1958 and has had retrospectives at Los Angeles's Museum of Contemporary Art, Pittsburgh's Carnegie Museum, Brandeis University's Rose Museum, and museums in the San Diego area. He and Patterson live in Leucadia, California.

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The saddest thing in current films is watching the long-neglected action directors fade away as the less talented De Sicas and Zinnemanns continue to fascinate the critics. Read the first page
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on 2 Jan. 1999
Format: Paperback
Farber found the best metaphor for his inclinations as well as his work: the termite, who burrows, chews, and undermines. Just as Thelonious Monk's solos softly undermine the themes on which they are constructed, so the bits of outrageous reality peeping into the Walsh films Farber so much admires undermine the fictional world Walsh has so carelessly constructed, and the critiques Farber savagely launches at film festivals and white elephant movies undermine their subjects by his relentless burrowing.
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Ray on 14 Nov. 2005
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Manny Farber has very litle praise for most of the films he reviews. He gives the impression, wrong I hope, of being tetchy and dyspeptic, hard to please. Some of his opinions are idiosyncratic, to put it mildly: Lawrence of Arabia is a film he can find nothing good to say about; Truffaut and Antonioni are second, if not third rate, directors; Orson Welles contributed little of lasting value. Amongst actors, Spencer Tracy is dismissed out of hand, as is Alec Guinness; Rita Tushingham, a second rate talent at best, is the subject of a diatribe lasting several boring pages; Montgomery Clift, it would seem, managed only one "non-mush" performance. Farber's prose is dense and it is easy to lose your way amongst his labyrinthine descriptions. It will be a joy to get back to the lucid prose of writers on film like C.A Lejeune, Dilys Powell and Graham Greene.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: 6 reviews
13 of 17 people found the following review helpful
A disappointment 8 Jun. 2010
By R. J. C. Roeber - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I opened the book with high expectations: Farber has a reputation. I suspect this is, ipso facto, because he swims against the tide of received opinion - which goes down well in radical circles.
Some, very few, of his reviews were brilliant, mind-stretching. "Underground Films" was the best of these and justly famous. But, as I read on, I grew tired of the anti-intellectualism, the reflex dismissal of the currently-admired greats of art cinema and the elevation of the skillful journeyman storyteller. It is all very much in the tradition of American populist iconoclasm and, to my taste, tiresomely reductive.
His taste in the visual arts and music, which he uses to illustrate his points on films, is distinctly fallible. His use of language is often startling, occasionally apt but even more often random. Like a drive-by shooting he leaves a lot of collateral damage.
I'm sure he provides a material for excitable analysis in fetid film course seminars but, for the rest of us amateurs, I wouldn't recommend the book except for very selective reading. Start - and maybe finish - with "Underground".
JR
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
FOR PEOPLE IN THE KNOW 21 Jan. 2013
By Marilyn J. Califf - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I did not know enough background to really appreciate this book. I have been going to movies for over 50 years and i am an artist with a BFA and an MFA and it was still a difficult book for me. The title said to me that he would discuss spatial things about the movies. But he talks about many things and not spatial things.
7 of 13 people found the following review helpful
Combative and Original 22 Oct. 2003
By "gloveinphilly" - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
This compilation of essays on film and art, written from the 1950s through the '70s, still stands out as amazingly sharp, combative, and original. Take Farber's legendary "White Elephant Art vs. Termite Art" (1962); replace the notion of "great painting" with "relational aesthetics," and you see that artists like Allan Sekula follow the termite path while the Hirschhorns and Gillicks of the world are our own white elephants.
14 of 26 people found the following review helpful
Manny is likeable, but not really a good writer 8 July 2003
By Amazon Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
A cult book. Not being in on the cult, let me say that Farber had pretty good taste in movies, liking hard-boiled masculine shoot-em-ups in the Forties. And he is, apparently, a very good painter, still having one man shows today in his late eighties. Still, he was a hideously disorganized writer. Reviews seem to start and end at random points in his chain of thoughts. There are some good phrases, but I'd be hard pressed to recount many coherent ideas from his book. It's not that he's lacking good ideas -- in fact, he has too many. He's just not very good at putting them into a comprehensible form. If you are a fanatic for either forties tough guy directors or late sixties artsy directors, you'll no doubt benefit from grinding through the book, but for the general reader, it's a struggle.
I'm hardly surprised that he gave up reviewing over 25 years ago for painting. Writing just doesn't seem to be his strong suit.
14 of 27 people found the following review helpful
extraordinary 2 Jan. 1999
By Darkest America - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
Farber found the best metaphor for his inclinations as well as his work: the termite, who burrows, chews, and undermines. Just as Thelonious Monk's solos softly undermine the themes on which they are constructed, so the bits of outrageous reality peeping into the Walsh films Farber so much admires undermine the fictional world Walsh has so carelessly constructed, and the critiques Farber savagely launches at film festivals and white elephant movies undermine their subjects by his relentless burrowing.
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