The Encyclopedia of Film Criticism: Calum Marsh

Calum Marsh
Whether it awakens any inner psychic energies is unclear. But it does, I think, offer a way to the sublime.

Contributed to: Sight & Sound, Esquire, The Atlantic, The Village Voice, Film Comment, Maxim Magazine, Cineaste, Little White Lies, Fandor, Hazlit Magazine, Mubi, Slant Magazine, The LA Review of Books, Details, Playboy The Paris Review, Reverse Shot, L Magazine, In Review Online,

Noted Champion of: The 'Kim's Video' generation of American Independent Cinema

Though born in Doncaster, England, Calum Marsh (September 24th, 1986-) has spent a lot of his life in Canada. He majored in Film Studies and Philosophy at Carleton University in Ottowa and moved to Toronto in 2012. He wrote about film for many years before turning pro in 2013. On his professional move: "I felt inspired to write criticism after reading Jonathan Rosenbaum's reviews from the Chicago Reader, which he'd been digitizing on his personal website for several years and which for a long I read every day." A free-lancer, his first writing was for In Review Online ("unless you count my brief stint at my college newspaper, The Charlatan: I reviewed [Oliver Stone's] Alexander in 2004") and has since moved onto over a dozen publications. He has little time for expected narrative beats (Fox News called him out for his review of Lone Survivor, in which he bemoaned not only the film's pro-military stance but its reliance on tired, formulaic direction), is unafraid to pick a fight and takes particular glee in standing up for the brave and the bold in independent film. As willing to go to bat for Neveldine/Taylor and John Carpenter as Laz Diaz and Hong Sang-Soo, he loves standing up for the unloved and the undiscovered. In an article on indie actress Kate Lyn Sheil, he pays homage to an entire generation of indie filmmakers including Sophia Takal, Amy Seimetz and Alex Ross Perry, many of whom hung around and worked at Kim's, a landmark New York video store. 

His writing has a swift tempo and twists and turns in a style most redolent of rhythmic gymnastics. You can almost see the words waving like a length of ribbon caught by a strong breeze. 

On Norte, The End of History: 
It's a dark irony of revolutions that those best-educated in their rhetoric are nearly always the least equipped to carry them out; it's rarely in the temperament of the intellectual to take to the streets, however dogmatically he articulates the need to. 

On American Hustle:
Such winking, smirking, spray-tanned pageantry, such bluster, to make a point children understand. So we're all groping toward success with a fake name and a bad perm — but this is merely thesis-as-insulation against the obvious criticism, which is that the filmmaking itself is phony. Comparing this even unfavorably to Scorsese is too high a compliment. This isn't second-rate Goodfellas; it's second-rate The Cooler. This trifle, this trash, is what we're choosing to laud now? 

On Upstream Color:
It's taken nine years for Carruth to follow up on the promise of his byzantine debut, during which time he might have penned a nesting-doll epic so structurally elaborate that it couldn't be parsed without recourse to diagrammatic analysis—a practice in which Carruth's admirers would no doubt happily indulge. 

Influences: Other than Rosenbaum, "I read Ebert with some regularity in college but otherwise felt drawn more to literary and cultural critics -- Martin Amis and John Updike, especially. I subscribed for several years to The New Yorker, which I think probably shaped my style more than anything else. I am a voracious reader of fiction and have a longstanding interest in art history."

Source: Email interview

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