(I am just finishing up Essential Cinema. I started it on my Costa Rica trip and read it while preparing my spring film course. The book is loaded with rich essays that explore the "world" of film and art collectively as a wide-ranging, fascinating introduction to the joys of cinephilia. Just as important, for me, is how Rosenbaum demonstrates that understanding film requires a broader knowledge of the world. His critiques are always loaded with references to broader contexts that extend my knowledge and interest in the chosen subject. I highly recommend this book!)
Essential Cinema: On the Necessity of Film Canons
with Jonathan Rosenbaum, Chicago Reader
Chicago Amplified (WBEZ)
Now that DVDs have made countless films that were formerly unavailable accessible to anyone who knows about them and knows where to find them, the task of choosing what movies to see is more complicated as well as more potentially adventurous than it ever was before. This makes the use of canons in general and film lists in particular more important, despite the resistance to canons expressed by many contemporary academics.
In his 2005 collection, Essential Cinema: On the Necessity of Film Canons, which came out in paperback last year, Jonathan Rosenbaum entered the fray by concluding his book with a chronological list of his 1000 favorite films, which he has subsequently added to in his Afterword to the paperback edition. Discussing recent changes in film culture that have made such lists more popular as well as useful, Rosenbaum also brings up related issues, such as the formation of niche markets, blogs, chatgroups, and new kinds of cine-clubs that have reconfigured cinephilia and filmgoing as a collective as well as a solitary activity, and talks about some of his individual favorites.
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