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. -

July 25: On this day in 1834 Samuel Taylor Coleridge died of heart disease at the age of sixty-one.

Crime fiction legends Dennis Lehane and Michael Connelly discuss the new book that unites their beloved sleuths Patrick Kenzie and Harry Bosch.

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Books, CDs, DVDs to know about now
Paradise and Elsewhere

Canadian short story marvel Kathy Page emerges as the Alice Munro of the supernatural from these heartfelt tales of shapeshifting swimmers, mild-mannered cannibals, and personality-shifting viruses transmitted through kisses.

Pastoral

When a persuasive pastor arrives in a sleepy farm town, his sage influence has otherworldly results (talking sheep, a mayor who walks on water). But can he pull off the miracle of finding kindly local Liz Denny the love of her life?  Small wonder looms large in this charmer from Andre Alexis.

The Hundred-Year House

When a poetry scholar goes digging through the decrepit estate of his wife's family to uncover a bygone arts colony's strange mysteries, he awakens a tenacious monster: his mother-in-law. A wickedly funny take on aging aristocracies from author Rebecca Makkai (The Borrower).