I’m Finally Getting Around to Writing
Too often I walk around thinking of all the letters I should write. I especially consider dropping a note four times a year, when Cineaste shows up. Your spring issue has finally pushed me. I had to write and thank you for the Natalie Wood article. Sadly, my knowledge of her consisted almost entirely of her performances in her most famous roles: The Searchers and Rebel without a Cause. It is an article with one foot firmly in academia and another in popular culture. It is richly illustrated. I can’t imagine where else something like it, or like so many of your articles, could have been published.
I might have been prompted to write on any number of pieces throughout the years— Walter Murch on editing, the critical roundtable surrounding Detroit, Dalton Trumbo’s life versus the film of his life—because your magazine has such wide-ranging interests. People think that politics is the focus of the publication, but every issue of Cineaste explores many aspects of film culture: technical, aesthetic, financial, historical, etc. And the writing you have published over the last few years on current issues in distribution and exhibition has been fascinating.
Film Comment is a good broad-spectrum magazine and their podcast is generally fun. Film Quarterly is a bit hit-or-miss, depending on your interest and what gets published that quarter. Cineaste is so fine because of the depth of the articles and interviews coupled with the shorter pieces in the back forty percent of the magazine. The book reviews are especially appreciated. This last issue alone had eight lengthy pieces on important film books. Many of us who live in film culture also love to read about film, and no other publication does as fine a job reviewing the current literature as you do.
My understanding was that Cannes was caught a little flat-footed by Netflix last year, but decided not to remove Netflix films from the lineup, as they had already been accepted. Once they addressed the issue last year, the agreement was that Cannes would no longer accept a film that would not open in theaters. If my understanding is correct, Netflix knew full well that its films could not be shown at Cannes this year if they were not going to open in theaters in France. That is, I don’t think it’s quite proper to say that “[T]his spring…Cannes ruled that it would ban films without French theatrical distribution from competing,” for two reasons.
First, I think the new ruling was decided last year. Second, to call it a ban may not be inaccurate, but it makes the decision sound repressive. Maybe you feel that way and maybe I don’t see the light. Would you say that CUNY bans from consideration for admission all students without high-school degrees? I would say that Netflix films would not be shown this year because Cannes decided last year not to accept films that would not receive French theatrical exhibition. I have not followed reporting on Cannes closely this year, but I will probably collect the press on it when I am in France this summer.
A propos the larger question(s) posed by the editorial, I think those questions are excellent, and perhaps worth a round table from people that know something. Specifically, what is the future of theatrical? I don’t know that anyone really knows (I certainly don’t), but I think views of informed commentators would be of interest. My own hunch/hope is that theatrical will remain crucial for downstream windows. But streaming may very well be the threat that turns out to bury theatrical. From my perch, and as you indicate, the theater numbers are down somewhat, but I think it’s too early to draw conclusions.
I can’t imagine what it’s like trying to publish an ink-and-paper magazine and a Website these days but know that there are those of us out here who look forward to every issue. Keep up the fine work at Cineaste.
Palm Springs, CA
Reply to Your Editorial
I just received my new copy of Cineaste, and I was delighted to see the review of my book [Exception Taken: How France Has Defied Hollywood’s New World Order, Cineaste, Summer 2018].
After reading the editorial, I thought I would send a link to a note I wrote last year about the Netflix brouhaha at Cannes: http://www.cupblog.org/2017/05/24/netflixon-the-croisette-jonathan-buchsbaum.
New York, NY
Reflections on a Dying Art
I’m a writer in New York, I teach at NYU, and I’m a longtime subscriber. I’m not sending this letter looking either for publication in Cineaste or for a one-year extension of my subscription.
Your statement on “The Dying Art of the Letter to the Editor” [Cineaste, Spring 2018] is both admirable and saddening. I’ve had seven letters published in The New York Times and others published elsewhere. I have long valued reading letters to the editor in Cineaste and other periodicals. I’m seventy years old, so I vividly remember when there was no email, no texting, no social media, when long-distance phone calls were quite expensive, when letters— actual letters in the mail—were everything!
I’m in no way against email, texting, or social media. But it profoundly depresses me that people feel that these generally short and limited statements are genuine communication. I understand that those who are young can’t realize what they’ve lost. But it baffles me why middle-aged and older people are so accepting of the decline in meaningful exchanges.
This is especially depressing when it comes to Cineaste. Who would choose to subscribe to or otherwise read your outstanding publication? I say it would have to be not only people who love film but who are (for the most part) intelligent, curious, readers of books and serious publications, and interested in the difficult and essential political issues of our time. To take just one example, how many contemporary film lovers know about or care about the Hollywood Blacklist in the way that Cineaste does?
I hope your appeal is successful. I will keep it in mind and try to send some letters to the editor in the future. Above all, please know that I greatly respect and am moved by this unusual, heartfelt statement. It says a lot about all those on your masthead. I am with you.
Bob Lamm New York, NY
A Particularly Insightful Article on Chris Marker This morning I sent a little message to Gary Alan Crowdus to tell him how touched I was by your article [“Chris Marker, Posthumously: All Bets Are Off” by Adrian Martin, Cineaste, Summer 2018], and your very sensitive remarks on my book—I believe you have truly grasped the essence of what I tried to convey in regards to my connection with Chris. Moreover, you’ve fanned in me a desire to go on writing, because I have much more to say and, with time, thoughts are forming within me that demand to be shared... So I am starting to write again and...we shall see.
I am very moved by the attention you have paid to my book. My heartfelt thanks.
Maroussia Vossen—choreographer, professor, and author of Chris Marker (le livre impossible)— is the adopted daughter of Chris Marker.
Cineaste welcomes letters of comment, whether pro or con, about material we’ve published, which should be emailed to us at firstname.lastname@example.org. Please try to keep your epistolary efforts to 500 or fewer words in the event that the editors or an aggrieved author wish to reply.
CINEASTE, Fall 2018 3