|Born||February 27, 1943|
Florence, Alabama, U.S.
|Alma mater||Bard College|
Jonathan Rosenbaum (born February 27, 1943) is an American film critic and author. Rosenbaum was the head film critic for The Chicago Reader from 1987 to 2008, when he retired. He has published and edited numerous books about cinema and has contributed to such notable film publications as Cahiers du cinéma and Film Comment.
Regarding Rosenbaum, French New Wave director Jean-Luc Godard said, "I think there is a very good film critic in the United States today, a successor of James Agee, and that is Jonathan Rosenbaum. He's one of the best; we don't have writers like him in France today. He's like André Bazin."
Rosenbaum grew up in Florence, Alabama, where his grandfather had owned a small chain of movie theaters. He grew up with his father Stanley and mother Mildred in the Rosenbaum House, designed by notable architect Frank Lloyd Wright, the only building by Wright in Alabama. As a teenager, he attended The Putney School in Putney, Vermont, where his classmates included actor Wallace Shawn. He graduated from Putney in 1961.
Rosenbaum developed a lifelong interest in jazz as a teenager. He frequently refers to it in his film criticism. He attended Bard College, where he played piano in an amateur jazz ensemble that included future actors Chevy Chase as a drummer and Blythe Danner as a vocalist. He studied literature at Bard with the intention of becoming a writer. Among his professors was German philosopher Heinrich Blücher, whose teaching had a strong effect on Rosenbaum.
Rosenbaum moved to Paris in 1969, working briefly as an assistant to director Jacques Tati and appearing as an extra in Robert Bresson's Four Nights of a Dreamer. While living there, he began writing film and literary criticism for The Village Voice, based in the Village in New York City, Film Comment, and Sight & Sound. In 1974, he moved from Paris to London, where he remained until March 1977, when he was offered a two-semester teaching position at the University of California, San Diego by Manny Farber. Farber had a major influence on Rosenbaum's criticism, but the two men had never met until the latter arrived in San Diego.
In addition, he has written many books on film and its criticism, including Film: The Front Line 1983 (1983), Placing Movies: The Practice of Film Criticism (1995), Moving Places: A Life at the Movies (1980; reprint 1995), Movies as Politics (1997), and Essential Cinema (2004).
His most popular work is Movie Wars: How Hollywood and the Media Limit What Movies We Can See (2002). He has written the best-known analysis of Jim Jarmusch's film Dead Man. Rosenbaum's book includes recorded interviews with Jarmusch; the book places the film in the acid western subgenre.
He edited This Is Orson Welles (1992), by Welles and Peter Bogdanovich, a collection of interviews and other materials relating to Welles. Rosenbaum consulted on both the 1998 re-editing of Welles's Touch of Evil (which was based on a lengthy memo written by Welles to Universal Pictures in the 1950s) and the 2018 completion ()of Welles's The Other Side of the Wind.
He is a frequent contributor to the DVD Beaver website, where he offers his alternative lists of genre films. He also writes the Global Discovery Column in the film journal Cinema Scope, where he reviews international DVD releases of films that are not widely available. He also writes a column called En Movimiento for the Spanish magazine Caimán Cuadernos De Cine.
Rosenbaum was a visiting professor of film at Virginia Commonwealth University's art history department in Richmond, Virginia from 2010 to 2011. From 2013 to 2015, he taught four times as a visiting lecturer at Bela Tarr's Film.Factory in Sarajevo, Bosnia.
Rosenbaum participated in the 2012 Sight & Sound critics' poll; he responded with these films as the ten best ever made: Vampir-Cuadecuc, Greed, Histoire(s) du cinéma, I Was Born, But..., Ivan, Rear Window, Sátántangó, Spione, The Wind Will Carry Us, and The World. He chose films other than those he had previously chosen for earlier Sight and Sound top ten lists.
Rosenbaum appears in the 2009 documentary For the Love of Movies: The Story of American Film Criticism, where he discusses the film criticism of Manny Farber.
He has said that his three favorite narrative films are Day of Wrath, Ordet and Gertrud, all directed by Carl Theodor Dreyer, the order depending, "almost entirely on which one I’ve seen most recently".
Alternative Top 100
In response to the AFI list of 100 greatest American movies published in 1998, Rosenbaum published his own list, focusing on less well-established, more diverse films. It also includes works by important independent American directors (such as John Cassavetes and Jim Jarmusch) who were absent from the AFI list. A second list by the AFI incorporated five titles from Rosenbaum's list.
In Essential Cinema: On the Necessity of Film Canons (2004), he appended a more general list of his 1,000 favorite films from all nations; slightly more than half were American. He starred his 100 favorite films on the list, marking both traditionally canonical films such as Greed (silent -) and Citizen Kane, and harder-to-find films such as Michael Snow's La Région Centrale and Jacques Rivette's Out 1.
Best films of the year
His top choices were:
- As author
- Moving Places: A Life in the Movies (1980–1995) ISBN 0-520-08907-3
- Midnight Movies (1983–1991) (with J. Hoberman) ISBN 0-306-80433-6
- Film: The Front Line 1983 (1983) ISBN 0-912869-03-8
- Greed (1993) ISBN 0-85170-806-4
- Placing Movies: The Practice of Film Criticism (1995) ISBN 0-520-08633-3
- Movies as Politics (1997) ISBN 0-520-20615-0
- Dead Man (2000) ISBN 0-85170-806-4
- Movie Wars: How Hollywood and the Media Limit What Films You See A Capella/Chicago Review Press (2000) ISBN 1-55652-454-4
- Abbas Kiarostami (Contemporary Film Directors) (2003–2018) (with Mehrnaz Saeed-Vafa) ISBN 0-252-07111-5
- Essential Cinema: On the Necessity of Film Canons (2004) ISBN 0-8018-7840-3
- Discovering Orson Welles (2007) ISBN 0-520-25123-7
- The Unquiet American: Transgressive Comedies from the U.S. (2009) ISBN 978-3-89472-693-5
- Goodbye Cinema, Hello Cinephilia: Film Culture in Transition (2010) ISBN 978-0-226-72664-9
- Cinematic Encounters: Interviews and Dialogues (2018) ISBN 978-0-252-08388-4
- Cinematic Encounters 2: Portraits and Polemics (2019) ISBN 978-0-252-08438-6
- As editor
- This is Orson Welles (1992–1998) ISBN 0-306-80834-X
- Movie Mutations: The Changing Face of World Cinephilia (2003) (with Adrian Martin) ISBN 0-85170-984-2
- "Something to Talk About". January 3, 2008. Archived from the original on September 20, 2009. Retrieved September 17, 2010.
- "Jonathan Rosenbaum". Archived from the original on June 16, 2006. Retrieved July 1, 2006.
- "Movies as Politics". Archived from the original on May 3, 2008. Retrieved July 3, 2008.
- Rosenbaum, Jonathan. Playing Oneself Archived November 9, 2020, at the Wayback Machine
- "To Understand Movies You Have to Understand the World": An Interview with Film Critic Jonathan Rosenbaum Archived June 3, 2010, at the Wayback Machine
- "True Believers". www.jonathanrosenbaum.net. July 26, 2018. Retrieved December 14, 2020.
- Rosenbaum, Jonathan. They Drive by Night: The Criticism of Manny Farber.
- "JonathanRosenbaum.net". Archived from the original on October 11, 2013. Retrieved March 9, 2013.
- "Scenes From an Overrated Career". The New York Times. Archived from the original on November 8, 2017. Retrieved February 22, 2017.
- "Jonathan Rosenbaum | BFI". Archived from the original on August 2, 2020. Retrieved April 27, 2020.
- "Reflections on the New Sight & Sound Poll (And Four Lists, 1982-2012) | Jonathan Rosenbaum".
- "Watch with Mother [on Carl Dreyer] | Jonathan Rosenbaum".
- "List-o-Mania. Or, How I Stopped Worrying and Learned to Love American Movies". June 25, 1998. Archived from the original on March 21, 2009. Retrieved November 10, 2006.
- "Ten Best Lists, 1972-1976 | Jonathan Rosenbaum". Archived from the original on June 14, 2015.
- "Ten Best Lists, 1980s | Jonathan Rosenbaum". Archived from the original on January 20, 2021.
- "Ten Best Lists, 1990-1994 | Jonathan Rosenbaum".
- "Ten & Twenty Best Lists, 1995-1999 | Jonathan Rosenbaum".
- "Ten Best Lists, 2000-2004 | Jonathan Rosenbaum".
- "Ten Best Lists, 2005-2009 | Jonathan Rosenbaum".
- Jonathan Rosenbaum Official Site
- Chicago Reader: Jonathan Rosenbaum bibliography
- Jonathan Rosenbaum's 1000 Essential Films
- Interview with Rosenbaum on Orson Welles
- CineScene interview
- Interview with: Jonathan Rosenbaum on The Oxford American
- 2007 video interview - Unseen Orson Welles - a Conversation With Jonathan Rosenbaum
- A conversation with Jonathan Rosenbaum on The Marketplace of Ideas