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I just saw it and boy does it...
318

What are the best film magazines out there?
Topic by: ahogue
Posted: September 13, 2005 - 11:11 AM PDT
Last Reply: September 19, 2005 - 10:48 AM PDT

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author topic: What are the best film magazines out there?
Shaky
post #21  on September 14, 2005 - 10:03 PM PDT  
This goes off in another direction, but have you looked at American Cinematographer? It may be a little more technical than you would like, since it deals heavily with production methods. Even so, when I subscribed I found it somewhat useful for getting a no-BS description of story and style of current and upcoming films, minus the opinions of self-important critics. It also helps draw connections between the films of various filmmakers; if you see a film you read about in an AC article, chances are good that the article will lead you to other films made by the same people.

You can usually find AC at Borders and Barnes & Noble. Grab a copy and peruse it in the cafe to see if it addresses your interests.
Eoliano
post #22  on September 15, 2005 - 9:26 AM PDT  
An excellent suggestion Shakey, and not at all in another direction. Not that it eluded me, but I hadn't thought to mention American Cinematographer because it might have been too techie, but it is one of the magazines I enjoy reading while browsing at Borders, that, and Screenwriter as well, both of which happen maintain archives and articles online.
Eoliano
post #23  on September 15, 2005 - 9:48 AM PDT  
> > > Slavoj Zizek has his own documentary coming out. How about that! Guess he's up there with Chomsky and Jung now.

> > Are Zizek and Chomsky really up there with Jung?

> Now that depends who you ask. > > Are Zizek and Chomsky really up there with Jung?

Heheh... I was talking about that place up there, you know, al di là delle nuvole!
kohnfused1
post #24  on September 15, 2005 - 10:02 AM PDT  
Ada...wait! What magazines were we talking about again.

I'm ...

pooja
post #25  on September 15, 2005 - 10:22 AM PDT  
> On September 15, 2005 - 10:02 AM PDT kohnfused1 wrote:
> ---------------------------------
> Ada...wait! What magazines were we talking about again.

Entertainment Weekly, Rolling Stone, Movieline, and maybe People and US Weekly...
ahogue
post #26  on September 15, 2005 - 2:31 PM PDT  
> On September 14, 2005 - 10:03 PM PDT Shaky wrote:
> ---------------------------------
> This goes off in another direction, but have you looked at American Cinematographer? It may be a little more technical than you would like, since it deals heavily with production methods.
> ---------------------------------

Actually, that sounds very promising. I don't think the technical stuff would throw me off much; I can follow most of that stuff pretty well.

-----------------
>Heheh... I was talking about that place up there, you know, al di là delle nuvole!
-----------------

Ah, there I go taking you seriously again! ;)
Eoliano
post #27  on September 15, 2005 - 3:15 PM PDT  
> >Heheh... I was talking about that place up there, you know, al di là delle nuvole!

> Ah, there I go taking you seriously again! ;)

I guess I should have warned you beforehand with a cute smiley but inadvertantly or maliciously resisted.
ahogue
post #28  on September 15, 2005 - 3:35 PM PDT  
> On September 15, 2005 - 3:15 PM PDT Eoliano wrote:
> ---------------------------------
> > >Heheh... I was talking about that place up there, you know, al di là delle nuvole!
>
> > Ah, there I go taking you seriously again! ;)
>
> I guess I should have warned you beforehand with a cute smiley but inadvertantly or maliciously resisted.
> ---------------------------------

Well, anyway, Jung's in Asgaard by now.
Shaky
post #29  on September 15, 2005 - 7:54 PM PDT  
> On September 15, 2005 - 2:31 PM PDT ahogue wrote:
> I don't think the technical stuff would throw me off much; I can follow most of that stuff pretty well.
> ---------------------------------

I didn't mean to imply that you couldn't handle the technical information. It's just that many people don't read AC simply because they think of it as only being accessible to cinematographers and gaffers. Just as I don't usually read Millimeter because it gets too much into worship of editing hardware, which doesn't interest me that much, people think AC is only going to be about cameras and film stock. They do talk about the toys, but I often find AC's discussions of the filmmakers' intellectual approaches to the material much better than in other magazines because the folks who write the articles have a very good understanding of the entire process and get into aspects of filmmaking that the critics don't understand.

I'm glad this thread came up. I think I'm going to restart my subscription.
JGerow
post #30  on September 16, 2005 - 9:44 AM PDT  
My one indispensable film magazine is Film Comment - I've read every issue since the late 70's. It's the most readable (not too theoretical) and smart film publication in the U.S. Some archived articles are available at www.filmlinc.com.

My favorite webites are www.sensesofcinema.com, www.cinema-scope.com, and www.chicagoreader.com/movies, which features the best American film critic, Jonathan Rosenbaum, and a huge database of capsule film reviews. I also read the weekly reviews in The Village Voice (J. Hoberman, etc.) and The San Francisco Bay Guardian (Chuck Stephens, Dennis Harvey, etc.).

I don't always agree with Rosenbaum, but I think he has a remarkable knowledge of and passion for film and a keen political sense as well. I highly recommend his book, Essential Cinema, which contains a fascinating personal canon of the 1,000 best films of all time.
FGaipa
post #31  on September 16, 2005 - 11:12 AM PDT  
RE Cahiers du cinema, why "once upon a time"? Just because it's not in English doens't mean each issue isn't worth a year of Premere or Film Threat. Even with the high school or college French many Americans suffer, readers ought to be able to glean something. Worst problem, even with decent French, is the postal service, one to four or more months from Paris to Oakland. I'm sure the lag time begins this side of the Atlantic. The Cahiers' lastest attempt at a web site is here: http://www.cahiersducinema.com/ Skip the slow-loading, not-worth-the-wait intro.

> On September 13, 2005 - 12:44 PM PDT Eoliano wrote:
target="external">Cahiers du cinéma, as far as I've been able to tell, no longer publishes in English, although some of their archived articles are available online, it was, once upon a time, one of the great film publications.
> ---------------------------------

Eoliano
post #32  on September 16, 2005 - 11:52 AM PDT  
> RE Cahiers du cinema, why "once upon a time"? Just because it's not in English doens't mean each issue isn't worth a year of Premere or Film Threat. Even with the high school or college French many Americans suffer, readers ought to be able to glean something. Worst problem, even with decent French, is the postal service, one to four or more months from Paris to Oakland. I'm sure the lag time begins this side of the Atlantic. The Cahiers' lastest attempt at a web site is here: http://www.cahiersducinema.com/ Skip the slow-loading, not-worth-the-wait intro.

Ahem, first of all, not everyone can read French; second; the French publication is no longer readily available on newsstands as it once was, so please allow me to revise my statement with my quote and link intact:

Unfortunately, Cahiers du cinéma, as far as I've been able to tell, no longer publishes in English, although some of their archived articles are available online, it was, once upon a time, one of the great international film publications printed in English.
villain
post #33  on September 16, 2005 - 9:26 PM PDT  
Rue Morgue is the only film magazine i buy. but this is only helpful if you're a horror fan.

i used to subscribe to Film Threat years and years ago. i miss it every once in a while. the website pretty much sucks though.
dwhudson
post #34  on September 17, 2005 - 5:56 AM PDT  
I'm late chiming in here, but I was talking about all this with a friend a few months ago and found myself saying that, no, I don't have any favorite film magazines, though I do have favorite writers. And there's a different way of putting that: I don't follow any particular magazines, but I do look forward to what a handful of writers are going to write about.

A lot of this has to do with changes in the magazine industry overall (and though this is only somewhat related, Ben Yagoda had a wonderful piece in Slate a while back about giving up the freelancing life that touches on many of these changes). Magazines used to have an agenda - or at least the good ones did. The ones that impacted American culture - and I'm not talking about journals like the Partisan Review or political magazines like the Nation, but popular magazines - had a sense of mission that drove all editorial and design decisions. Rolling Stone, in its early years, would probably be the most famous example; the earliest incarnation of Wired remains, as far as I can think at the moment, the last example of this tradition, meaning that the tradition has been dead for about a decade now. And as for film magazines, Cahiers and its auteur agenda is surely the most famous example, though there are others - in history.

Film Comment and Sight & Sound are both very fine magazines, but their editorial program is pretty much set by the institutions that publish them, the Film Society of Lincoln Center and the British Film Institute, respectively. So the latest issue of FC is full of articles about the films or filmmakers featured in the upcoming New York Film Festival; and if the National Film Theatre in London is going to have a season on any particular filmmaker, you can bet there'll be a profile or critical reconsideration of that filmmaker in S&S. There's nothing at all wrong with this. If the NYFF is going to run a special program on Shochiku Studios, it's great for a Japanese cinema novice like me to be able to read Chuck Stephens's history of the studio and its relationships with Ozu and Oshima and how those relationships helped shaped those two very different oeuvres. At the same time, though, there is no overarching argument to either magazine. FC's special issues aside (Hong Kong, Bollywood, Korea), they more or less bump along, check their institutions' programs and match the writers and topics as best they can.

There is, though, a sort of vague and gentle agenda to nearly all the magazines we've mentioned so far in this topic, including the online publications such as Senses of Cinema, and it might be called the "windows onto the world" agenda. And that sort of goes like this: We feature the films we do, and become advocates of the good ones, because it's vital that as many people as possible see as many films from around the world (or from the otherwise obscured corners of our own backyard) as possible because getting to know other cultures and other peoples will reduce the likelihood that we'll be eager to bomb the shit out of them just because our political leadership tells us it'd be a good idea. You can punch holes (or attempt to punch holes) in a variety of assumptions bound up in that argument, but overall, it's hard to argue with and noble (and obvious) enough, and in fact, we pretty much subscribe to the gist of it here at GC.

But it's still a fairly uninspiring cause unless and until the argument is made with vigor, intelligence, a sense of history and is grounded in specifics, e.g., "See The Battle of Algiers because, not only is it a riveting watch, it'll also tell you a lot about the mindsets of terrorists and occupiers, and the lessons learned from that slice of history are clearly applicable to Iraq right now." And for my taste, this is the sort of thing Jonathan Rosenbaum and J. Hoberman do best (it helps, of course, that I share many of their political convictions). For these two, films are not self-enclosed texts, nor are they merely stimulators for personal, emotional reactions. Films come from and speak to an overall context. They're defined by their makers, yes, but also by a certain time and place, and what's more, they can have an impact on their contemporary cultures.

And isn't it interesting that neither are directly associated with a film magazine, but instead, their respective alternative weeklies. I'm glad vexkitten brought up alt weeklies because, as I've argued in various spots here and on the blog (and it sounds like JGerow would agree), it's in the alt weeklies that the most lively, argumentative and substantive criticism has been going on in the US in the last couple of decades. What's truly remarkable about that is that this criticism has been as readily available as just about any other and is perfectly accessible (i.e., not overly academic) to all readers - and is often even fun to read (which reminds me: I wanted to mention what's probably my own favorite online publication, Bright Lights; SoC's directors database and all that is invaluable, yes, but overall, SoC is really a mixed bag; BL, on the other hand, never loses sight of the fact that, even as you're being smart as nails in your analysis of movies, you can also let on how much fun you're having watching them, too). And some of the best writers at other venues - Manohla Dargis at the New York Times, for example - have a background in alt weeklies.

Of course, the alt weekly landscape is changing, and changing fast. I finally got to meet Jonathan Rosenbaum in Austin earlier this year and basically asked him: As alt weeklies start dropping like flies (a real possibility) and/or cut way back on editorial to make room for advertising (already happening; the saddest case is probably the Village Voice), where are we going to turn for good writing on film? He didn't bat an eye. The shift is already happening, he said. Writers, old and new alike, are moving online. Not just to formal publications like SoC, but to their own blogs and so forth. Of course, the pay is lousy, but the pay's always been lousy. No one ever made a living writing for Cahiers or Film Culture or Positif and so on in the first place; criticism has always been driven by passion rather than bucks.
dpowers
post #35  on September 17, 2005 - 8:48 AM PDT  
the most powerful alternative viewpoint being a search for commercial perfection? mirroring rich society to show off its best intentions and features. defining progress as domination of tools.
Eoliano
post #36  on September 17, 2005 - 2:56 PM PDT  
Wow David, that about says it all, and certainly more than makes up for your protracted absence hereabouts. It's good to hear your much needed voice, and, needless to say, we miss you!

Okay, here is a summary of publications mentioned thus far* with a short list or critics at the bottom:

American Cinematographer

Bright Lights

Cahiers du cinéma

Cineaste

Cinema-Scope

Film Comment

Film Culture

Filmmaker Magazine

Film Threat

Film Quarterly

GreenCine Daily

Images

Kamera

Midnight Eye

Movieline

Positif

Premiere

Res

Screenwriter

Senses of Cinema

Sight & Sound

The Village Voice/Film

Critics:

David Denby & Anthony Lane

Jonathan Rosenbaum

Derek Malcolm

Andrew Sarris

David Thompson


* I added a few not mentioned buy what the heck, and if I happened to miss anything, sue me...
shiori308
post #37  on September 18, 2005 - 2:15 PM PDT  
I am not sure if this is on topic anymore but I just wanted to mention that I really like Fade-In magazine it really deals with a lot of the behind the scenes stuff and business related things in movies instead of just the actors actresses pretty pictures etc. etc. It is the only magazine that I find myself reading front to back and not skipping anything in it.


JGerow
post #38  on September 19, 2005 - 7:35 AM PDT  
> On September 17, 2005 - 5:56 AM PDT dwhudson wrote:
> ---------------------------------
>It sounds like JGerow would agree...it's in the alt weeklies that the most lively, argumentative and substantive criticism has been going on in the US in the last couple of decades.

Yes, I agree that the Village Voice, the Chicago Reader et al. have the best regular film critics, because their progressive political stances reflect a greater freedom and openness in their arts coverage overall. It would be a shame to see these institutions become the journalistic equivalent of Starbucks. It's fortunate that the middlebrow New York Times currently offers a home to Manohla Dargis and Dave Kehr, but this is the exception rather than the rule.

As for Film Comment, it's true that they devote a lot of coverage to films and series playing at the Film Society, but they're generally worth the attention FC gives them. They also have some of the best and most extensive coverage of film festivals around.

My film education largely consisted of Sarris's "The American Cinema," the Voice and FC, plus seeing thousands of movies and, with the advent of the web, discovering Rosenbaum and limitless other possibilities. I'd like to finally mention one more very influential critic, Robin Wood, formerly of the British 60's film magazine Movie, and especially his great book "Hitchcock's Films Revisited."
ahogue
post #39  on September 19, 2005 - 10:48 AM PDT  
Wow, this is great. Almost more than I can possibly process.

Well, I picked up Sight and Sound and Film Comment at the local bookstore, just to get started. Film Comment is probably the magazine which ran that article I really hated, but I decided to give it another try.

So far I like this issue of Film Comment. It has good coverage of films I otherwise might never have heard of. (On the other hand, I may never have a chance to see some of them, which is rather frustrating.) The writing so far is clear and relatively unpretentious while the writers are obviously well informed. Nothing to dislike here so far.

Sight and Sound I haven't got around to yet. Looks great, but a $10 cover price is likely to make this an occassional purchase.

A quick scan of Senses of Cinema, and I'm not thrilled by what I see there. Almost every article description includes a theorist's name. One article, mentioning Zizek in almost every paragraph, informs us that "The spectator is positioned as a passive witness to the action as it unfolds inexorably." It's hard to see how this statement is anything but a lazy tautology.
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