Criticism doesn't get nearly enough credit these days. Most people just bash critics in disagreement. With Roger Ebert's At the Movies and the like all missing, it's up to most critics to make their own spotlight, but here in Miami, they've got a great helping hand.
Over at the Miami Beach Cinematheque, director Dana Keith has provided a haven of sorts for local critics and all those with a penchant for in-depth analyzation. It's Speaking in Cinema, a series dedicated to showcasing great films, the people who make them, and the critics who love to study them.
"The real purpose of Speaking In Cinema is to promote cinema as an art-form, and to nurture and encourage good film criticism, especially when it is constructive and supportive of innovation," Keith says. "The best filmmakers have very specific voices of expression that are apparent through their use of the medium. One such filmmaker is Daniel Patrick Carbone, and that is why he was chosen to open the series."
The first installment, Tuesday, April 29, at 7 p.m., involves a discussion of the recently released Hide Your Smiling Faces, written and directed by Daniel Patrick Carbone. The filmmaker will be in attendance, talking about his feature debut with guest film critics Amy Taubin (Film Comment) and Hans Morgenstern (IndieEthos). The latter, a local critic and sometimes contributor to Cultist, is excited about the upcoming night of discussion with the director and especially the long-established critic.
"Amy is only one of the main film critics I consistently read as an undergrad at FIU while studying English and journalism," he said. "I cited her in my essay assignments while her aesthetic seeped into my subconscious."
As much of an honor as it is for him to share the stage with a writer whose work shaped his own, he's just as glad to join the film's director.
"Daniel Patrick Carbone has seemingly come out of nowhere with a Kickstarter-funded film and made an impression on critics such as Amy and I who prefer narrative to be hinted at instead of over-explained."
While the panel features those with a well-established eye for filmmaking, the cinema director hopes the series will bring in anyone passionate about the art of film. Those who won't get a chance to attend shouldn't fear, as a video library of the events will be released soon on the Cinematheque website. Keith is especially grateful for the support from the Knight Foundation, without which none of this would be possible.
"What would artists and curators do without it in Miami?" Local critics are just as appreciative of the support.
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"This means both the Miami Beach Cinematheque and the Knight Foundation see a value to film criticism in an era where some newspapers and magazines have famously let their film critics go," Morgenstern says. "Here is Miami with a growing film criticism scene coming out of blogs and being invited to join the Florida Film Critics Circle alongside the few remaining newspaper critics who have survived the cuts. Speaking In Cinema only adds more prestige to the film-thinking coming out of this city."
With any luck, Hide Your Smiling Faces -- which has been playing since April 18th and will go on Wednesday and Thursday night -- will prove to be an interesting kick-off. Things won't be limited to Carbone's film. As our local panelist notes, they will touch on currently playing and upcoming art films to MBC, including "the moving Romanian family drama Child's Pose, the hypnotically creepy sci-fi film Under the Skin, and the disturbing drug-war fable from Mexico, Heli." With an opening night like this, one can only imagine what wonders of cinema and criticism Dana Keith and the Miami Beach Cinematheque will bring Miami's way.