New Book: The Oliver Stone Experience

Posted on September 19, 2016 at 3:54 pm

From “Scarface,” “Midnight Express,” Natural Born Killers,” “Wall Street,” “JFK,” “Nixon,” “W,” and “Platoon” to this month’s release, “Snowden.” Oliver Stone has been one of the most provocative writers and directors in movie history. Also one of its most lauded, with awards and nominations that include three Oscars in two separate categories: Best Adapted Screenplay (“Midnight Express”), and Best Director (“Born on the Fourth of July” and “Platoon”).

A new book, The Oliver Stone Experience, is part memoir, part critical assessment of Stone’s work over three decades. Working with critic Matt Zoller Seitz, Stone shares memories of serving in the Vietnam war, his childhood, his struggles with post-traumatic stress disorder, and his continual struggle to reinvent himself as an artist. The book includes never-before-seen material that dates back to Stone’s childhood in the 1950s, personal snapshots, private correspondence, annotated script pages and storyboards, and behind-the-scenes photography.

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Books Critics Directors Writers

What Movies Do You Watch Over and Over?

Posted on March 6, 2015 at 3:32 pm

A couple of weeks ago, “The Best Years of Our Lives” was on TCM and I decided to watch the first few moments to enjoy again scenes I have enjoyed many, many times. I promised myself I would go to bed after half an hour but found myself once again watching all the way to the end. There are lots of movies I seem unable to not watch, even if I’ve seen them a hundred times and even if I own the dang thing and can watch it any time I want. So I especially enjoyed this discussion by two of my favorite critics, Matt Zoller Seitz and Dana Stevens, talking to Professor Cristel Russell about the movies they can’t resist watching over and over.

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Critics Film History For Your Netflix Queue

Telling Time in “All That Jazz”

Posted on September 29, 2014 at 3:19 pm

One of my favorite writers provides insights into one of my favorite (if flawed) movies — Matt Zoller Seitz created a beautiful video essay about Bob Fosse’s autobiographical “All That Jazz” for the Criterion Edition, and then they were unable to use it due to rights problems with the movie clips he wanted to include. Good news — that means you can read/watch it for free.
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Understanding Media and Pop Culture

Matt Zoller Seitz on How to Be a Movie Critic

Posted on April 30, 2014 at 8:00 am

People often tell me they’d like to be movie critics.  I usually say, “Okay, I just waved my invisible magic wand.  You’re a movie critic!  Now, if you want to be a professional critic, you need to do this: watch a lot of movies.  Start with the movies on the American Film Institute lists.  Read a lot of great writing about film.  And then write and write and write and write and write.  You can have the most insightful, erudite analysis in the world, but if you can’t write well enough to hold a reader’s attention, no one will know.”

I like the advice from my colleague Matt Zoller Seitz, editor in chief of and author of the superb The Wes Anderson Collection. I especially like his advice to be considerate of your editors, read up on history and psychology, and engage with people who disagree with you.  That’s good advice for everyone.

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