Watch J. Hoberman Discuss the State of 21st Century Cinema

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by Matt Singer
October 4, 2012 5:13 PM
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I opened my own response to the ongoing discussion about whether or not film culture is dead with a quote by critic (and former professor of mine) J. Hoberman. It would have been particularly instructive to excerpt something from his latest book -- "Film After Film (Or, What Became Of 21st Century Cinema?)" -- which I'm sure addresses this subject with far more insight, intelligence, and wit than I'm capable of generating. Unfortunately, I haven't had time to read it yet.

Instead, I'm happy to present what I'm going to call the next best thing: Hoberman speaking for well over an hour at the 2012 Milwaukee Film Festival on the subject of "The State of the 21st Century." Giving his keynote address on the importance (or perhaps the self-importance) of cinephiles and cinephilia, he traces the history and evolution of the medium and considers what the injection of digital's "radical impurity" means to the world of filmmaking. He also shows clips and then answers questions from the audience. It's informative, entertaining, and surprisingly well-shot, with lots of angles and high-end (digital) photography.

If you want to hear Hoberman's thoughts on the "crisis" in film criticism, you'll find that as well -- starting around 1:07:30, in response to an audience question. He sees it more as a "crisis in journalism" than a "crisis in criticism" -- and compares the elimination of print critics to the elimination of live musicians when sound replaced silent movies:

"Film criticism has migrated to the Internet. Certainly that's what happened to me... I was describing myself as kind of an old-fashioned print guy but it took me no more than a week to realize that I could maintain this position but I would not be able to maintain any sort of income if I stuck to that. The Internet giveth and it taketh away... I do think there is a difference between being a professional and being an amateur."

The entire lecture and Q&A is embedded below. Hoberman's portion starts at 06:22 of the video.

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