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Vulgar Modernism: Writing on Movies and Other Media (Culture and the Moving Image Series) Paperback – 1 Jun 1991


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"Nobody since Andrew Sarris and Pauline Kael has done more to deepen the way we think about films." --The Nation "This witty, erudite collection of reviews and longer essays is as much a commentary on the politics of the spectacle as it is a retrospective of the movies of the past dozen years." --Village Voice "One of the most intelligent an thought-provoking critics in the United States, though he doesn't always like my films." --Martin Sorsese "This is in the tradition of great American movie books--James Agee, Andrew Sarris, Manny Farber, Pauline Kael--in which an author's collected reviews have the emotional force of a recherche du temps perdu. Reliving the '80s with Hoberman, we can marvel at the weirdness and richness of world culture. Hoberman's writing offers impressive erudition, emotional intensity, and wiseguy wit. If Siegfried Kracauer and Patti Smith had bumped into each other on Second Avenue one night, maybe they could have produced a book like this." --Marshall Berman, author of All That Is Solid Melts into Air: The Experience of Modernity --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Amazon.com: HASH(0x94638720) out of 5 stars 1 review
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x9463ac24) out of 5 stars Excellent survey of a great critic's work from the 1980s 21 Oct. 2009
By Muzzlehatch - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
Now that Jonathan Rosenbaum has retired from regular, weekly reviewing, I'd have to pick J. Hoberman as my easy favorite favorite film critic in the USA. He's been with "The Village Voice" for over 30 years, having done a review of ERASERHEAD as his very first piece; he started out as the third-string guy but has been the senior critic since 1988.

VULGAR MODERNISM was Hoberman's first collection, first published in 1991 and collecting a goodly-sized chunk of his writings for the "Voice" as well as a few pieces originaly written for "Film Comment" and other publications. Most of the pieces are 2-3 page (1000 words or so) single film reviews, but there are longer portrait-pieces on directors like Scorsese and Lynch, and also some writings on other arts, including an excellent piece on George Herriman's seminal early 20th century comic strip KRAZY KAT. Hoberman tends to cover the avant-garde and "outsider" American cinema a little more than his colleague and MIDNIGHT MOVIES collaborator Rosenbaum; witness the several articles on Andy Warhol and Jack Smith. And he's got a taste for what is often considered "bad" cinema - Ed Wood and Oscar Micheaux in particular. My favorite article in the whole book in fact is probably the piece on Micheaux, Wood, the French surrealists and the bad movie books of the Medveds. Hoberman has a tendency to a certain self-conscious hipness at times, a smugness I think, which can get tiresome, but the best pieces like the bad movies one profit from his erudition and his dismissal of some of the critical norms that even a Rosenbaum or Dave Kehr have accepted.

Like Rosenbaum and many of the other critics who cut their teeth in the alternative weekles, Hoberman has little patience for or interest in commercial, American "blockbuster" cinema; what few mentions of Spielberg and Lucas you'll find aren't terribly complimentary. So be warned, this is "elitist" New York criticism - at it's best. If that's your bag (it should be obvious now that it's mine, mostly), I certainly wouldn't hesitate to recommend this. The cheap paperback is apparently out of print, but you can easily get it used.
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