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Watch 'Jonathan Rosenbaum, Present,' A Video Interview Celebrating the Critic's 70th Birthday

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by Matt Singer
February 27, 2013 10:27 AM
1 Comment
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"I like to think of myself as a writer, still."

"Essential Cinema: On the Necessity of Film Canons."

Film critic Jonathan Rosenbaum was born on February 27, 1943, which means that today is his 70th birthday. To celebrate, Fandor's Ignatiy Vishnevetsky and Kevin B. Lee visited Rosenbaum at his home for a conversation, and turned the results into a film entitled "Jonathan Rosenbaum, Present."

The 12 minute short features the former head film critic for the Chicago Reader discussing his critical and literary influences, the cinematic themes that most interest him (and which, in turn, inform the themes of his own work), and about how the life of a critic (and the audience of a critic and the reception of criticism) continues to evolve.

Af Fandor, Vishnevetsky says he tried to make a film about Rosenbaum before, but the project never quite came together:

"The uncompleted earlier project had focused on Jonathan’s 'exterior' -- his opinions, his lectures. This time, I felt the focus should be on the interior -- his approach to work, his personality. I wanted to capture the way he talks and thinks: his speech rhythms, his body language, how he pauses and turns his head for emphasis, the way he slips from personal anecdote to critical analysis and back again."

Hoping to get as close as they could to the experience of "climbing inside of [Rosenbaum's] head," Vishnevetsky and Lee set and shot the film entirely in Rosenbaum's home and office. Here are the results:

Happy birthday to Jonathan Rosenbaum, and thanks to Vishnevetsky and Lee for marking this milestone.

Read more of "Video: 'Jonathan Rosenbaum, Present.'"

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1 Comment

  • Nick | February 27, 2013 1:57 PMReply

    Rosenbaum's writing has definitely been instrumental in shaping my way of looking of film (and loving film). He and Michael Atkinson are the only two film critics that I find worth following and reading on a regular basis. I rarely agree with Rosenbaum though, especially when it comes to the ratings he gives to most films (in contrast to Atkinson) but his contribution to the "dialogue" as it were is indispensable. Plus I also love the fact that Rosenbaum seems unable to prevent his Twitter feed getting hijacked by people trying to sell diet- and boner-pills.

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