American Movie Critics

Everyone's a movie critic. To care deeply about film is to succumb to the need to talk, or write, about what the eye has just absorbed from the screen. It's been that way since the poet Vachel Lindsay waxed rhapsodic about "the photoplay of action"; and it has exploded in the past 50 years, as film criticism has earned enough respect to be taken seriously as a profession. Phillip Lopate favors us with this extensive (though not exhaustive) anthology of film criticism, a wide-ranging and often surprising anthology that ranges from the scholarly (Stanley Cavell) to the snarky (Paul Rudnick). Lopate proves an astute and playful shepherd through material including Carl Sandburg on The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari ("he craziest, wildest, shivery movie that has come wriggling across the silversheet of a cinema house"); Otis Ferguson on Cagney ("nobody's fool and nobody's clever ape?frankly vulgar in the best sense"); and Pauline Kael on Kubrick's 2001 ("a monumentally unimaginative movie"). At nearly every turn, you'll find erudite dissections of how particular films play upon our psyche and emotions and why movies, for better or worse, have become our national dialogue. -

April 19: "What you see first, after the starting gun's crack, is a column of bobbing runners, thousands of them, surging downhill..."

Donna Tartt's The Goldfinch is the winner of the 2014 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction. James Parker calls this Dickensian coming-of-age novel "an enveloping…

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Books, CDs, DVDs to know about now
Poems That Make Grown Men Cry

And women too.  Luminaries from Colin Firth to Nick Cave and Jonathan Franzen chose the poems that bring them to tears, and the result is a stunning collection of poignant verse from writers like Auden, Whitman, Bishop, Larkin, Neruda and many others.  Warning: choking-up hazard.

The King of Pain

Trapped beneath his entertainment system, reality TV mastermind Rick Salter reflects on his life and tries to piece together the events of the previous evening. Seth Kaufman’s romp is an outrageous meditation on pain and entertainment in a deranged world in which the two are often interchangeable.

The Good Inn

Frank Black, frontman for the Pixies, has written a transgressive historical fiction with shades of Thomas Pynchon (focused as it is on the history of explosives and cinematic pornography), all set in a hallucinatory Edwardian Europe.