Saturday, November 12, 2005

Critics I Like: Carloss James Chamberlin

Carloss James Chamberlin writes only for Senses of Cinema as far as I know, and I didn't really pay attention to his work overall until earlier this year, I think. I remember reading and not much liking the piece he wrote on Mystic River, but now I see that I was put off more by the colloquial tone, and confrontational attitude towards Kael and Rosenbaum (not that I mind that with Kael), than the actual thought content of the piece. He's written very perceptively only both of Clint's recent films, the two that I actually don't like that much. (Oh, I do like Million Dollar Baby, reservedly--but it's problems are so heavy that I kind of feel that I don't like it.)

More than these well-considered defenses of Eastwood, however, CJC has a distinctive taste. (One of my favorite parts of breaking into the "thought" of a new-to-me critic or cinephile is discovering his or her unique tastes, and the more prickly and unpredictable, but sensible, they seem, the better. Web-surfing cinephiles have all had their pleasant alarm at seeing Dan Sallitt's idiosyncratic favorites, I'm sure. When I first glimpsed some of those lists back in 2001, I was blown away.) Chamberlin has written also The Ister (one of my most regretfully missed films in recent years), Varda's Le Bonheur, Fassbinder's Despair, Wenders' Lisbon Story, and the Slamdance film festival.

Here is a Great Directors entry on that most taste-divisive of French liberal humanist filmmakers, Bertrand Tavernier, and a contribution to a Spielberg symposium that counts among the best write-ups on Spielberg I've read. The latter displays superbly one of the things I enjoy in Chamberlin's criticism--a willingness to break things down without breaking them down into black-and-white, good-or-bad binaries, and a feeling for language that gives birth to such categories as 'Angel Eyes,' 'Blondies,' and 'Tucos.'


Eric Henderson said...

Just browsing his work makes me feel as though I've been chewed, savored and then spit out. He's good.

Winstrol said...

I think that he also writes for a magazine

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