The Atlantic has a beautiful commentary written by Noah Berlatsky on how James Baldwin’s 1976 book-length essay on film criticism is proof that art criticism can be art itself:

The themes of race, film, and truth circle around one another throughout the essay’s hundred pages, as Baldwin attempts to reconcile the cinema he loves, which represents the country he loves, with its duplicity and faithlessness. In one memorable description of the McCarthy era midway through the essay, he marvels at ‘the slimy depths to which the bulk of white Americans allowed themselves to sink: noisily, gracelessly, flatulent and foul with patriotism.’ It’s clear Baldwin believes that description can often be applied to American cinema as well—whether it’s the false self-congratulatory liberal Hollywood pap of The Heat of the Night or Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner or the travesty made of Billie Holiday’s life in Lady Sings the Blues, the script of which, Baldwin says, ‘Is as empty as a banana peel, and as treacherous.’

One more book for the ol’ Amazon wish list.

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