Monday, December 21, 2009
RIP Robin Wood
I always had great regard for Canadian-based film critic Robin Wood, who died this week. His Hollywood From Vietnam To Reagan - subtitled "...And Beyond" for the revised edition - is one of my favourite, and most-referenced, books of film criticism. His chapter in The Shape Of Rage taking issue with the praises heaped on David Cronenberg and querying his ideology is the most thought-provoking and stimulating chapter in the book, and the short bit of back-and-forth between Cronenberg and Wood about Wood's criticisms is extremely revealing, in a way that the fawning (pseudo?)academic pose-striking that usually gets attached to Cronenberg never is. One of my proudest accomplishments as a writer has been to have my interview with Charles Mudede about Police Beat and Zoo appear in CineACTION!, a critical journal that Wood was intimately involved with and often appeared in -- I hope he read my article! (It's in issue 72, available for order online). As with any film critic, there are things he said that I disagree with, and I'm by no means a fan of all of the films he triumphed - he was very fond of Larry Cohen's It's Alive films, for example, but I find them almost entirely unwatchable, whatever Cohen's allegedly politically admirable intentions (...tho' I am quite fond of Q and various OTHER Larry Cohen movies; Wood just happened to have chosen some of his worst films to praise); but he was always thought-provoking and worth reading, and contributed much to my appreciation of cinema. Condolences to his family and partner and those who worked with him; film criticism is a poorer place without him.