Monday, February 27, 2006

And Now the Happy Stuff

In my previous post, I mentioned William Pechter as an example of a critic who wrote for a magazine that had moved to the right-of-center (Commentary) without being expected to follow the magazine's political line in his criticism. (This used to be common before the so-called culture wars.) Well, I notice that Amazon has used copies of "Movies Plus One," a collection of Pechter's criticism from the early '70s. In the thick of the New American Cinema, Pechter turned out long, insightful reviews of movies like McCabe and Mrs. Miller and Peckinpah's Straw Dogs. He also wrote a funny, stinging piece on the decline of Blake Edwards and the inexplicable Edwards cult that was growing among auteurist critics at the time (the piece was called "Block That Cult!" but I can't remember if it's in the book or not). Of the critics of the era, Pechter was similar to Pauline Kael but less of an attention-hog in his writing, more willing to think hard about a film; he was perhaps the best film critic of that period, but he's largely been forgotten. Check the book out if you get a chance.

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