A Beautiful Legacy

Hello there! I have a piece up over at RogerEbert.com about the Cannes Film Festival and its importance to cinematic evolution. It's a multi-part job and part one went out yesterday and part two just went up a few moments ago (and here's part three). It's my first foray into short form video essays, or factual documentary criticism, and I wager there's room for improvement, but I'd sure appreciate your eyes and ears for their duration. The Cannes FIlm Festival has always fascinated me; the line-up swerving from harmonic to contrapuntal through the years has much to say about the state of film in a given year. If charting cinema's stylistic and technical evolution from the 50s to today, you could do worse than to look at what's caused a stir on the Croisette over the years. I've read Mike D'Angelo's Cannes coverage ravenously since 2009, and indeed it was festival review dispatches that Spring in many different print magazines that really got me hooked on film criticism as an artform and a science. Those fellas were looking to pick a fight, and it was thrilling. I'd sit at Trident books on rainy days between classes and read Film Comment or Cinema Scope. Defenses of Bruno Dumont's retreat from his usual style, before I knew what his usual style was. Furious takedowns of Tarantino and Lars Von Trier for attempting to do the job of the critic in their movies! The guts of the seventh art were out for me to see, and I got a good look at how everything worked before tucking them back in and getting out the thread and needle.

My good friend Sean Van Deuren and I, as well as this site's own Fox Johnson, Noah Aust, Alexandra Maiorino, Alysha Joslyn and Kyle McDonald, watched the bulk of the 2010 competition when we ran Emerson College's Films From The Margin group. The memories of watching Certified Copy, On Tour, Biutiful & Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives and then talking about them, are the most important thing about my time at Emerson College. Those memories combined into a crazy undertaking when I organized the Totally Illegal Film Festival: watch the entire 1968 Cannes Film Festival line-up and give out the prizes that the jury never did. Of course, the end goal was forgotten as I got swept up in the fascinating, frustrating experience of watching two dozen films that the world had all but forgotten about. For the record: Palm d'Or goes to Kuroneko, Grand Prix to The Castle, script goes to The Firemen's Ball, director goes to Miklós Jancsó for not one, but two amazing films, actress Lisa Gastoni for Grazie, Zia, actor, a tie between Albert Finney for Charlie Bubbles and George C. Scott for Petulia and the Jury Prize to The Long Day's Dying (a room of very vocal people were stunned into silenced by it).

And it was all of this, flying around in the attic that is my brain, that helped me create the essays.

It's an incredible honor to have my work run on Roger Ebert's website. The man's influence is incalculable and for most people he was the face of falling in love with movies. He made us all want to be better, more open and articulate movie lovers. Sean used to watch his show as a kid (I confess that my first prolonged exposure came from his cameos on The Critic, a show that defined my childhood) and it was Sean who got me into the writing of Ignatiy Vishnevetsky, who took over on the revamped At The Movies. It's Sean I thought about when this opportunity presented itself, because he is an Ebert Fan, a bigger one than me. And Ebert fans rightly have high standards for their critics, so anything I do under this banner has to be the best work I know how to do. Being a part of the Ebert community for these few short hours has been an incredible feeling, one I'll never forget.

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