Key [Film] Texts

Important texts that have contributed and continue to contribute to my development as a film lover and writer. Books, articles, quotes, essays, posts, and reviews. A growing list.

Books by Jonathan Rosenbaum
Jonathan Rosenbaum has influenced my writing and thinking about film more than any other critic, from his stint at The Chicago Reader, when I discovered him, to his books. I consider him the greatest living film critic writing in English, by a mile. His website, although strewn with 404s when he changes slugs without creating redirects, is essential reading for now and in the future.

For some reason, his newest book, Cinematic Encounters: Interviews and Dialogues 2, is not listed on that author page in the Amazon link.

The Responsibilities of a Gay Film Critic, Robin Wood
Wood’s example encouraged me not only to come out as a gay critic in the pages of an independent culture magazine in Indianapolis in the mid 80s, something that just wasn’t done, but also spurred me on to make my own gay movie — Pictures of Maleness.

Books by Robin Wood
The most important of these books for me was Hollywood from Vietnam to Reagan.


Get more [gay] movies!


On Abjection, Jacques Rivette
translated by David Phelps with the assistance of Jeremi Szaniawski

A moral challenge made to cinephiles, never repeated really and never really answered.

The Cinema of Inadvertence
We bad-movie watchers have our own anticriteria, the sorts of badness we prefer.
By Phil Christman on The Hedgehog Review

The Male Glance, Lili Loofbourow, VQR Online
I hope the author won’t mind, but this adroit analysis of how art by, for, and about women gets dismissed and ignored could apply to films by, for, and about gay men — at least those films not anointed by the Euro-gringo cinephile establishment. In which case, it’s the straight male glance.

Joker: Sympathy Epic
Bright Lights Films Journal
A good antidote to the fanboy drooling on #FilmTwitter.

Key quote:

Consider if Taxi Driver opened with Travis getting mugged by a black man and having his taxi stolen, or if Lang thought that getting into Beckert’s head required that the girls he kills ridicule and demean him first so we could see his point. Now put that glance back in context: we can now pretend to explain “why” he’s racist, or “why” he kills. The moral reduction that results from getting this information would take the meaning out of the perspective; it would allow us to justify in a movie something that cannot be justified in life. This is how a movie like Joker can be about so much, and mean so little.

M.C. Meyers

Movies and Methods, Volume 1 and Volume 2
Edited by Bill Nichols
I carried these two beat-up, dog-eared volumes around with me for years from house to house in Chicago, along with all my Xeroxed articles from film classes, including the syllabi. I believe I gave them all away when I moved to Prague in 2003. I can’t say much of the criticism here has much to do with how I think about movies now. But these volumes were formative.

Visionary Film: The American Avant-Garde, 1943-2000
One of my favorite books from my time as a film-studies undergrad. I wish there were more queer experimental films to explore.

Gays in Film
By Richard Dyer
From Jump Cut, no. 18, August 1978, pp. 15-16
copyright Jump Cut: A Review of Contemporary Media, 1978, 2005

Men’s pornography: gay vs. straight
by Tom Waugh
From Jump Cut, no. 30, March 1985, pp. 30-35
copyright Jump Cut: A Review of Contemporary Media, 1985, 2005

Dire straights: the indeterminacy of sexual identity in gay-for-pay pornography
by John Paul Stadler