Literate and reflective, these reviews rival those by more famous critics like Pauline Kael and Andrew Sarris.

THE PRESS GANG

WRITING ON CINEMA FROM NEW YORK PRESS, 1991-2011

Film fans will love this massive compendium of intellectually savvy reviews from the long-defunct New York Press.

With great research and effort, editor Colvill has brought together more than 200 long-form film reviews and essays from the “raucous, drunken, snotty and punk rock” NYPress, as former staffer Jim Knipfel describes it in his highly informative introduction. Reviews were first written by Cheshire, later joined by Seitz and White. As Colvill notes in his foreword, their work represented “three distinctly different voices,” and it wasn’t unusual to have one contributor “directly challenging” another’s opinion. There were also interviews with directors, including Abbas Kiarostami, Edward Yang, and Crispin Glover, and thoughtful articles on film festivals and cinema in general. The encyclopedic, retrospective essay “The 1990s in Film” is a lengthy dialogue with all three critics, who engage in a spirited discussion of the state of foreign and independent films, Hollywood, and cinema’s future. Cheshire, “wise, clear-eyed and eloquent,” loved “indie arthouse cinema.” His “seminal” essay, “Death of Film,” sparked a “nationwide debate” and “got him fired.” Seitz was a “genre specialist” while White was a “provocateur.” In “The Magnolia Syndrome,” White writes that it takes “imagination to review movies worthily.” The NYPress writers were plenty imaginative. Cheshire admires Pulp Fiction’s “astonishing narrative architecture.” Gus Van Sant’s To Die For is a “tour de force…so brilliant as to suggest a mistake on the part of Columbia Pictures.” In a review of the “inventive, graceful and passionate” Mission to Mars, Seitz takes on its “indifferent-to-hostile critical reception.” He loves the “shaggy, funny, perverse and overflowing with life” Wonder Boys—a “sublime achievement.” The contributors rarely mince words. White calls Jim Jarmusch’s Ghost Dog a “patronizing failure,” and Seitz criticizes Hannibal as “glossily incompetent.”

Literate and reflective, these reviews rival those by more famous critics like Pauline Kael and Andrew Sarris.

Pub Date: Aug. 25, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-60980-977-5

Page Count: 496

Publisher: Seven Stories

Review Posted Online: April 20, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2020

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

A blissfully vicarious, heartfelt glimpse into the life of a Manhattan burlesque dancer.

TANQUERAY

A former New York City dancer reflects on her zesty heyday in the 1970s.

Discovered on a Manhattan street in 2020 and introduced on Stanton’s Humans of New York Instagram page, Johnson, then 76, shares her dynamic history as a “fiercely independent” Black burlesque dancer who used the stage name Tanqueray and became a celebrated fixture in midtown adult theaters. “I was the only black girl making white girl money,” she boasts, telling a vibrant story about sex and struggle in a bygone era. Frank and unapologetic, Johnson vividly captures aspects of her former life as a stage seductress shimmying to blues tracks during 18-minute sets or sewing lingerie for plus-sized dancers. Though her work was far from the Broadway shows she dreamed about, it eventually became all about the nightly hustle to simply survive. Her anecdotes are humorous, heartfelt, and supremely captivating, recounted with the passion of a true survivor and the acerbic wit of a weathered, street-wise New Yorker. She shares stories of growing up in an abusive household in Albany in the 1940s, a teenage pregnancy, and prison time for robbery as nonchalantly as she recalls selling rhinestone G-strings to prostitutes to make them sparkle in the headlights of passing cars. Complemented by an array of revealing personal photographs, the narrative alternates between heartfelt nostalgia about the seedier side of Manhattan’s go-go scene and funny quips about her unconventional stage performances. Encounters with a variety of hardworking dancers, drag queens, and pimps, plus an account of the complexities of a first love with a drug-addled hustler, fill out the memoir with personality and candor. With a narrative assist from Stanton, the result is a consistently titillating and often moving story of human struggle as well as an insider glimpse into the days when Times Square was considered the Big Apple’s gloriously unpolished underbelly. The book also includes Yee’s lush watercolor illustrations.

A blissfully vicarious, heartfelt glimpse into the life of a Manhattan burlesque dancer.

Pub Date: July 12, 2022

ISBN: 978-1-250-27827-2

Page Count: 192

Publisher: St. Martin's

Review Posted Online: July 28, 2022

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

A virtuoso performance and an ode to an undervalued medium created by two talented artists.

A WEALTH OF PIGEONS

A CARTOON COLLECTION

The veteran actor, comedian, and banjo player teams up with the acclaimed illustrator to create a unique book of cartoons that communicates their personalities.

Martin, also a prolific author, has always been intrigued by the cartoons strewn throughout the pages of the New Yorker. So when he was presented with the opportunity to work with Bliss, who has been a staff cartoonist at the magazine since 1997, he seized the moment. “The idea of a one-panel image with or without a caption mystified me,” he writes. “I felt like, yeah, sometimes I’m funny, but there are these other weird freaks who are actually funny.” Once the duo agreed to work together, they established their creative process, which consisted of working forward and backward: “Forwards was me conceiving of several cartoon images and captions, and Harry would select his favorites; backwards was Harry sending me sketched or fully drawn cartoons for dialogue or banners.” Sometimes, he writes, “the perfect joke occurs two seconds before deadline.” There are several cartoons depicting this method, including a humorous multipanel piece highlighting their first meeting called “They Meet,” in which Martin thinks to himself, “He’ll never be able to translate my delicate and finely honed droll notions.” In the next panel, Bliss thinks, “I’m sure he won’t understand that the comic art form is way more subtle than his blunt-force humor.” The team collaborated for a year and created 150 cartoons featuring an array of topics, “from dogs and cats to outer space and art museums.” A witty creation of a bovine family sitting down to a gourmet meal and one of Dumbo getting his comeuppance highlight the duo’s comedic talent. What also makes this project successful is the team’s keen understanding of human behavior as viewed through their unconventional comedic minds.

A virtuoso performance and an ode to an undervalued medium created by two talented artists.

Pub Date: Nov. 17, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-250-26289-9

Page Count: 272

Publisher: Celadon Books

Review Posted Online: Aug. 31, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2020

Did you like this book?

more