Negative Space, by Manny Farber
Review by Jeffrey M. Anderson
Buy Negative Space, by Manny Farber
Of the trio of early American movie critics, James Agee was a musician,
Otis Ferguson was a poet, and Manny Farber was a painter. It's fascinating
to read Farber's work and know that he has not only re-written carefully
dozens of times, but still manages to get an artistic painterly sensibility
into the words. That he's writing only about movies, and that Farber was
so fiercely independent, brutally honest, and seriously scrutinizing makes
the reading doubly fascinating. Farber's critic's manifesto is included
in the back of the book. But Farber was far from snooty. Indeed, he preferred
what he called "termite art" to "white elephant art,"
i.e., movies that are artfully made but contain no noble gestures or political
agendas, as opposed to empty movies that were applauded and awarded because
of their political agendas. Hence, the essay "Underground Movies"
is essential reading for any serious movie buff. The new edition of Negative
Space is expanded, and contains a lengthy interview with Farber and
his wife Patricia, who co-writes many of his reviews.
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