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By Ray Pride Pride@moviecitynews.com

Never an A+: cricket L Schwarzbaum on E Weekly

At RockCritics.com, Aaron Aradillas is keeping warm with the occasional film cricket, like EW’s Lisa Schwarzbaum, with whom he parses a few thousand words. tinycricket.gifIn this lengthy, good read, she says that her years at Sarah Lawrence, which “didn’t have majors (or exams, or grades, or requirements,” she says, “I studied piano, viola, music theory, music history, composition, and conducting. I sang in a chorus that traveled to Europe for a month-long concert tour. I wore black garments. I took classes in fiction writing. I made my own yogurt. I took a course in oxyacetylene welding since I admired the sculpture of David Smith. I wrote in blank notebooks with a leaky Rapidograph pen. You know, the usual.” malick directs.jpg Schwarzbaum considers her music background in terms of her critical practice, and says she’s “still pondering the implications of Terrence Malick’s arresting use of Mozart’s Piano Concerto #23 in The New World—a pointed decision to juxtapose the serenity of ordered, peak-of-culture Old World music against scenes of much wilder beauty and newness.” She likes pop, but classical matters more: “The canon of classical music though–Brahms, Schubert, Beethoven, the biggies, and Mozart above all-—ills me with the joy of passionate emotion organized into tonal order. Like an exquisite math. I don’t know how else to say it. Maybe I can play you a Bach fugue?” Describing her weekly routine, she confesses, “I’m a down-to-the-deadline (or, er, a tad-past-the-deadline) type, so at the start of the week I’m writing (or about to write) all day, or working with my editors and making revisions. I happen to love my office at the magazine, which has a door I can close and a view of the Hudson River that can’t be beat, so I tend to do a fair amount of writing there, but sometimes I also file from home, and then come into the office for editing.” And grading on a scale? “You may notice that the movie section of EW has never handed out an A+, although other review sections in the magazine have done so… The tradition was established before I came on board—something about preserving a Platonic ideal, something no actual movie could attain…” What other crickets is her ear pitched toward? “The answer to this question always feels to me like a shout-out to friends, a suck-up to influential people, or a settling of scores with adversaries. The question I’d always love to hear critics answer instead is, what else do you love to do, read, or read about[?].


So I’ll answer my own question: I love the fiction of Dawn Powell, John Fante, and the short stories of Laurie Colwin. I have a strong interest in graphic design and typography… with a corresponding collection of books about books. I’m just getting involved in gardening, so I’ve got a stack of stuff to read about mulch, ripped from the pages of magazines… I like to take hiking vacations to places far from screening rooms—Morocco, Iceland—so I’ve got a shelf of Lonely Planet guidebooks. I own a cookbook, but I use it mostly to weigh down the stuff about mulch ripped from other publications.” And if she were a movie character? ” I am the child that Albert Brooks and Holly Hunter should have had in Broadcast News, grown up to become Allison Janney.” [Much more at the link, including James Toback‘s sexual comments after a review, a contretemps about Jewishness between herself and Barry Levinson, plus Aradillas conversating with David Edelstein here.]

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1. Spectacle (IMAX-style blockbusters)
2. Family (cartoon like features)
3. Horror (teen-driven), and
4. Film Club (formerly arthouse but now anything serious).

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