As a relative amateur in the business of film criticism (which I haven't actually committed to this site but intend to as soon as I catch up this week that I have off from classes at USC) not to mention the world of blogging, I always find it interesting to see what others are doing, what the stretch is between my itsy bitsy steps and their leaps and bounds, and what they think of the universe they're in - whatever universe it is. My taste in entertainment and art is limited only to what I can experience first-hand, which expectedly isn't much since I'm not quite firmly placed within the industry and can't demand such things as screeners (lucky bastards at SXSW this week getting to have all the fun) or advance copies of music albums. So I look at what musical artists are listening to, what they think is great songwriting, great producing, great vocals. Who are the singers' singers, the darlings of the stars? This I do through iTunes, which is updated somewhat frequently. I mold my tastes around what I understand from these people to be the new and exciting, and try to develop an appreciation for their innovations (or simply their dexterity). Writers and authors often discuss their influences, and those can be found readily in journals, magazines and on the internet; Wikipedia usually has an influences section for popular and influential authors which sometimes uses direct quotes. I'm not as susceptible to these sorts of distinctions because I've grown comfortable with my style of writing and don't derive much from their praises or criticisms. And, honestly, I don't read as much as I used to.
I do, however, watch movies quite often, though it's rather inconsistent, fluctuating (predictably) between months in the year. And as for the movies and those rampant opinions, a few magazines will publish lists, typically in year-end issues or when festivals or awards ceremonies come around on the global or national film community calendars, but they're not steady features or usual fare for print publications, being only a little more frequent online. (The highbrow but totally worthy Sight & Sound magazine produces a poll of Top Films and Top Directors as voted by both filmmakers and critics, but then it's only every ten years and the films that appear are more or less consistent.) I couldn't say most people are interested in these things as I am, sadly, because most of the mainstream audiences don't pay such close attention to who these people are and so couldn't care less about what they think are the best and who're the brightest. Such musings are really only attractive to those who love the industry to begin with and who take pleasure in possessing that little bit of insider knowledge (which isn't really insider knowledge, though such things do inform styles of directing).
It's also nice to know that people in the industry are perceptive and aware of the ebbs and flows of the industry that employs them, as Gwyneth Paltrow illustrates via her new startup, GOOP. (Must say, I like the place she's set up in her corner of the vast web, her writing is pleasingly minimalistic and informative.) Being a top-billed actress at the height of her powers (that's debateable, but I think she's become so much more meticulous about her career and how she's projected than she was just years ago), one wouldn't think she'd have the time or desire to form and position her opinion on the history of film and its highlights, but not only does she do that, she's also managed to get five directors (only one of whom she's not worked with... yet) to spill their thoughts on what they think are endlessly watchable films. Some more famous than others, they all at least are still in operation and still creating exciting art. Steven Spielberg, Wes Anderson, James Gray, Sofia Coppola, and Jon Favreau. Some surprising picks by each of them, too. "Tootsie" was chosen twice, as was "The Godfather." The latter appears in the Sight & Sound poll as well.
Read her preface, her own favorites, the list and the reasons behind some of the picks at her place. And don't forget to discuss them in the comments.
What did you think of their picks?
IMAGE from: Chic in Paris
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SCOOPED first by: Slashflm