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My Own Favorite Critic

November 30, 2006

I was poking around the Internet and found this fantastic interview with Owen Gleiberman, one of the two lead critics for Entertainment Weekly. He’s a remarkably eloquent guy and he has some really interesting things to say about the narcissism of Pauline Kael, his hatred for Wes Anderson’s movies and his love for Carrie and Natural Born Killers. The interviewer clearly did his research, asking about Gleiberman’s experience as a juror at the Sundance Festival the year of Vincent Gallo’s Buffalo ’66 and a line from his review of Steal This Movie. I also didn’t know that Owen got his start at the Boston Phoenix, in my hometown. (His break was the movie critic equivalent of getting discovered at a bus stop in Hollywood: the movie critic for the Phoenix, Stephen Schiff, saw his college writing, liked it and hired him to come to Boston.)

I don’t know why, but reading this interview somehow gives me hope that I’ll get a paid job as a movie critic some day as well. A fella can dream, can’t he?

5 Comments leave one →
  1. November 30, 2006 10:59 pm

    Sorry, but I can’t trust any critic who says JULES AND JIM is the most overrated of all great films, and at the same time considers NATURAL BORN KILLERS the best movie of the ’90s.

    Like everyone else, Gleiberman isn’t wrong all the time, but he’s wrong much too often for me.

  2. December 1, 2006 3:11 am

    I think you’re being a bit too harsh, Juan; every critic has their quirks. (Pauline Kael hated Stanley Kubrick, for Chrissake, and thought Brian DePalma was God’s gift to filmmaking.) It seems to me that it’s more important that a critic be intelligent, write well and treat every movie with a seriousness of purpose than it is that we agree with them.

    I’m curious, though: who’s right often enough for you?

  3. December 1, 2006 9:01 pm

    It’s funny that you mention Pauline Kael, because that’s precisely who used to be right often enough for me. AND I agreed with her about Kubrick and De Palma — even though I haven’t liked any De Palma movie since CARLITO”S WAY. But, just like Kael, I thought Kubrick started to go wrong after DR. STRANGELOVE. I couldn’t help but agree with Kael — she got a major hold of me at the very impressionable age of 13 and never let go. If not for her, I probably would like Kubrick, just like (it seems) everyone else. And now you know why I’m such a big Altman fan — he was one of Kael’s favorite directors.

    As far as today’s critics, my favorite is Stephanie Zacharek of, who also loves Kael and shares her taste and thinking. I also like David Edelstein of New York magazine, but I don’t agree with him quite as often as with Zacharek.

  4. December 1, 2006 9:13 pm

    Oh, in case you think I blindly agreed with Kael, I didn’t. She was wrong, for example, about CHINATOWN, which is one of the greatest films ever.

  5. December 2, 2006 3:42 pm

    Also, there are certain movies I use to determine whether I can trust a critic. Any critic who likes NATURAL BORN KILLERS or BREAKING THE WAVES is a critic I can’t trust. (Which, again, doesn’t mean they’re not right now and then.) It’s OK to like Kubrick (I don’t think he’s awful — just overrated), but if you don’t like JULES AND JIM and THE WILD BUNCH and NASHVILLE, you’re outta my critics’ circle!

    Getting back to Kael for a minute: She loved Godard, but except for a couple of movies — BREATHLESS and BAND OF OUTSIDERS — I can’t get into him at all. The beauty of MASCULINE-FEMININE escapes me, and WEEKEND completely falls apart in the second half.

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