Categories
Interesting News

Philip French tribute at The Observer

Philip French has been the chief film critic at The Observer for over 30 years and has recently been awarded a BAFTA fellowship.

The UK newspaper has compiled a nice set of features to honour one of their finest writers:

It is a fitting tribute and a model of how online content can supplement the print edition.

But it also highlights the reasons French remains the best UK film critic, which is his ability to write about films in engaging, fair and learned manner.

His fairness means that he takes mainstream films seriously (both the good and the bad) and doesn’t feel the need to come up with a contrarian angle in order to attract attention.

Whether he likes a film or not, I get the sense he gives anything he sees a fair crack of the whip. Unlike some of his contemporaries, he reviews all the weekly releases and doesn’t farm out lesser known films to a deputy.

His learning means that his can place films in a valuable context, be it historical, political or artistic, but he manages to do so in a way that avoids the snooty academic tone that can plague highbrow criticism.

He also reminds you that there is a world outside of films, which is useful in keeping things in perspective.

If you are a critic for a media outlet, you get invited to pre-release screenings and in the case of the national press, screenings usually take place every Monday or Tuesday.

Sometimes, a mood of jaded cynicism can pervade the air (particularly if the film is a stinker) but Philip is always a notable presence because he invariably stays until the credits have finished.

For me, it is symbolic of both his professionalism and genuine love of cinema. In the UK, too many people assigned to write about about films are arts journalists plucked from the social networks that pervade the British media.

Sometimes they appear to have little love or knowledge of the medium and favour witty putdowns over genuine thought.

In recent weeks a raft of US film critics have lost their jobs and the role has been called in to question. In a post I wrote on that very subject I said that the best critics must inform, enlighten and entertain.

French does all three and remains a shining example of what a good arts journalist should be.

> Read Philip’s latest reviews at The Observer
> Check out past articles at Guardian Unimited

(Photo: Richard Saker / The Observer)

Categories
Awards Season Interviews

Interview: Amanda Berry of BAFTA

The Orange British Academy Film AwardsThe Orange British Academy Film Awards – also known as the BAFTAs – take place this Sunday and it is the showpiece event of the UK film calendar.

Amanda Berry is the chief executive of BAFTA and I recently spoke to her about: the awards event; the changes she has made since the late 90s; how it fits in to the awards season; how the nomination process works, what the BAFTA organisation does around the year; and the films up for nomination.

Listen to the interview here:

[audio:http://filmdetail.receptionmedia.com/Amanda_Berry_BAFTA_Interview_2008.mp3]

To download this as a podcast via iTunes just click the image below:

UK viewers can see the awards show on BBC1 this Sunday at 9pm and for more information just visit their official website at www.bafta.org/awards

> Download this interview as an MP3 file
> The full BAFTA nominations for this year
> Watch some of the highlights from last year at BAFTA’s site