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Physical Evidence: Selected Film Criticism
by Kent Jones
An expert writer and thinker on movie history and directorial style, Kent Jones is among the most notable film critics of his generation. His sharp, informed analyses and cogent assessments of cinema and its practitioners have made him a significant voice both in America and internationally. Jones inaugural collection brings together the best of his reviews (on films ...more
Published September 28th 2007 by Wesleyan University Press
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Even though I may not agree with all of Jones' opinions, I respect his erudition, and find his passion for cinema inspiring. He is a writer who doesn't fall into the usual critical trap of disecting the nuts and bolts of how a thing works, he writes about the total experience of cinema and how it makes him feel and think.
This book is Kent Jones' only collection of film essays and reviews, but I hope that changes soon. (He has two other books, one about the director Olivier Assayas and the other about Bresson's "L'Argent".) Jones is an uncommonly thoughtful, fair, and curious critic, with a warm, conversational writing style and a clean, efficient way of avoiding rhetoric and fashion and eloquently and directly expressing his ideas and opinions. Unlike the sad majority of film critics, he understands that all the ...more
At a book reading, Kent Jones suggested that the problem with contemporary film criticism is that critics are afraid of finding faults in a good movie or accomplishments in a bad movie. Jones' writing is certainly an attempt to remedy these tendencies, though they are not always successful. Sometimes Jones' noble aspiration to show both the "positive" and "negative" comes across as indecisive, as though he's afraid of committing to one viewpoint, or perhaps that he feels every film to be flawed ...more
This is a selection of essays from roughly 1995-2005 -- "The Tarantino Decade" as Jones calls it -- written with effete style and academic rigor. Jones has a dizzying amount of cinematic knowledge, so it's especially great when he praises corny masterpieces like John Carpenter's "They Live" or John Millius'"Big Wednesday." Lots of fun.
I love Jones as a critic, his even handed yet personal analysis of film really speaks to me. He is the kind of critic who tells the reader a lot about himself merely by talking the ways in which art moves him. This collection provides a nice mixture of essays on individual films, the entire work of specific directors, and general cultural movements as evidenced by the types of films we view.