Friday, August 20, 2010

Limits of tolerance (Todd McCarthy on heavy duty film viewing)

Todd McCarthy has written a blog entry on his experience as a member of the selection committee of the New York Film Festival. They watched 70 films in two weeks. The worthiest ones they watched in their entirety, but there were also entries that were sampled only. The most impatient committee members were ready to make the decision in minutes, but Todd McCarthy says that "my general inclination, however, is to give a film a little time", at least 10-15 minutes.

I agree with Todd, and usually I try to see some 20 minutes of any film, that is, the length of one 600 meter reel. If I after that start to think that an aimless stroll down the street would be more exciting than this I leave. But I have never been a member of a selection committee, and I have been spared the worst.

Todd McCarthy is a top film critic and film historian whose Howard Hawks biography is definitive. Over 30 years, until this year, he was the full-time film critic of Variety. When Variety fired him, many felt that this was a suicidal act of the venerable magazine, as McCarthy was its number one asset.

I don't always agree with McCarthy, but for a long time I have admired him as a model because of his wit, style, toughness, sense of justice, deep knowledge in film history and business, and sense of humour.

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